RuPaul’s Drag Race star denies stealing hundreds from woman’s purse during performance

In this side by side, drag queen Shannel poses in drag and, in a screen capture of a video, holds a purse

A RuPaul’s Drag Race star has denied stealing hundreds of dollars from a woman’s performance mid-performance.

Season one contestant Shannel was accused by a woman attending a Drag Brunch event in Las Vegas, Nevada, on 13 August.

She was headlining the show at the bar Señor Frogs when she allegedly took out dollar bills from attendee Megan Gerber’s purse before walking off as the audience looked on, a since-deleted TikTok showed.

Gerber claimed Shannel, known off-stage as Bryan Watkins, made off with $700. When Gerber called out the queen during the show, Shannel played it for laughs.

“B****h, please. I only took a dollar,” Shannel said. Gerber, who had attended the brunch for her birthday, claimed she excused herself before reporting what happened to the police.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed to NBC News Gerber filed a larceny report which “will be turned over to that bureau or detective to do a followup or investigation”.

On Wednesday (17 August), Shannel responded to the allegations in a nearly 12-minute-long Instagram video captioned: “In My Words.”
The Drag Race All Stars alum denied taking the money – but did make off with “a couple of dollars” from the bag, she said, as part of a “comedic silly moment”.

“It’s happened for years in shows all over, where queens will grab a purse and run away with it. No intention of any ill is ever done with it but there are just things and there are elements that happen in a show like that,” she said.

“Obviously, with this specific guest, this bit did not go over well at all.”

He continued: “No, I did not steal $700 from her purse. Yes, I inappropriately picked up her purse and I made comments to her that were in poor taste.


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A post shared by Bryan Watkins (@theofficialshannel)

“Yes, I ruined her birthday experience, and I apologise for that. It was never my intention, and I feel horrible for that.

“So for these reasons, I really am sorry and refrain from ever doing a bit like this in my show again.”

“Later that afternoon, we did receive an email from her lawyer who said they wanted a total of $6,241.15, which included a full refund of the tickets as well as $5,000 in damages,” she added.

“In the email, they reduced the amount taken from her purse to $700 to $800 and the additional quote-unquote ‘damages’ included a cabana they reserved as the Aria Hotel.”

The drag brunch organisers, Voss Events, said only $2 was taken and was later returned to Gerber. She was offered a full refund of the nine tickets tallying $1,200 and an additional $700 “despite the fact it was never stolen”, a spokesperson said.

“We have taken appropriate actions to ensure this never happens again at any of our events and feel terrible this guest had her experience ruined by this unfortunate experience,” they said, adding that the company requested Gerber take the videos down as they were stoking homophobia towards Shannel.

She declined and demanded, “$7,000 in compensation to remove the posts”.

Shannel said she has been the target of “harassment, bullying” and death threats since, saying: “All this for something that was meant to be a laugh.”

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