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Plattsburgh’s Red D. Liches performs at Belvedere’s Sunday Brunch, possibly Saranac Lake’s first brunch. (Enterprise photo by Aaron Serbone)

SARANAC LAKE. On Sunday, the owners of the Belvedere restaurant hosted what may be Saranac Lake’s first brunch, bringing six kings and drag queens to a sold-out show that Belvedere owners say is the first of many.

Chrissy Weiss, who owns the Belvedere, said she’s a longtime fan of drag and wanted to host a drag event at the restaurant, which her partner, John Levy, has been running since February.

“This is art. The art of this is interesting to me.” Weiss said. “And personally, I like to question gender.”

Weiss said there were a lot of first-timers there for Sunday’s performances.

“As far as I know, this is the first brunch in Saranac Lake,” she told.

Haniva Cash gets close to Chris Kinney at Sunday brunch at the Belvedere restaurant. Breakfast host and performer Victoria Beaumore can be seen through the window inside. (Enterprise photo by Aaron Serbone)

It was “hot ticket” event. Within six days of going on sale, 60 seats were sold out, she said, with more than 500 people looking for tickets on the event’s website and another 50 coming to the Belvedere in person to look for tickets. Weiss said she was “floor” this reaction – it was unexpected, exciting and disturbing.

The Lake Placid Center for the Arts hosts drag bingo nights, so it’s not unprecedented, she said, but she didn’t know what to expect.

On Sunday, Weiss announced that demand for the event has been so high that the Belvedere will host another drag brunch — two, in fact — on Sept. 18.

Levy said that when Weiss brought him the drag brunch idea, he wasn’t sure Belvedere would lose some of its patrons.

“I actually lost three people” he said.

Mhisty Knights, hailing from Peru, New York, frantically grab dollar bills during Sunday brunch at Belvedere. (Enterprise photo by Aaron Serbone)

But he saw a chance to build a community and said it was worth it.

“Everyone is what he is. Let them live their lives. If you don’t like it, just keep your mouth shut.” said Levi.

He was pleased to see a large local presence on Sunday. Levy said he wants to breathe new life into the business and let people know it’s a safe and acceptable place to hang out.

“I want this place to be open to everyone. If they don’t want to be a part of everybody, then they can be a part of what they want to be somewhere else.” said Levi. “Food is a uniting of people. Having conversations. Talking about memories. Talking about the future. We’re talking about now.”

Mhisti Knights, a drag queen from Peru, New York, and now Plattsburgh, said she got into drag ender when she lived in Saranac Lake 20 years ago. At the time, she was performing in Plattsburgh and never thought she would be able to do drag here.

Bleu Darlin’ performs at Belvedere Drag Brunch on Sunday. (Enterprise photo by Aaron Serbone)

Knights saved life and limb by volunteering at the fire station, but she always maintained her sexiness and power of attraction “restrained”, because there wasn’t much recognition back then. There was a drag scene at that time “dead”.

Now, according to her, it is gaining momentum.

“Saranac Lake is an artistic district. Because there were no brunches the day before, it’s like a disappointment.” The knights said. “I’m glad Saranac Lake finally has a drag community.”

Knights encourages people to be expressive and honest about their sexuality and gender, but she said young people coming out face being kicked out of their homes or being abused — verbally or physically. She serves on the board of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance and said there is a community ready to embrace.

The Knights said the crowd on Sunday was “amazing.” They loved it—laughing, clapping, dancing, even dancing with the drag queens and tipping them generously or turning red when the queens danced on them.

On Sunday, Victoria Beaumore hosted the brunch and closed the event with romantic and bawdy ballads. She introduced the rest of the drag queens and kings.

When Bleu Darlin’ entered—or walked—into the room, she brought energy: she twirled hair in the audience’s faces and moved in close.

Red D. Licious brought a classic, nostalgic style, scattering flower pedals and dollar bills across the floor.

Christian Gay from Buffalo is a drag king.

Drag Kings are less common than Drag Queens, but Gay said: “It’s literally the opposite” — a woman dressing as a man instead of a man dressing as a woman.

Gay is a former Mr. Gay United States citizen and said he’s done many brunches around the country, but the Belvedere show was one of his favorites. Besides, the food was good, he said.

“I’m all for promoting the show, but if I think your food stinks, I’m not going to promote it.” – said Gay.

Haniva Cash of Baltimore, Maryland, said he had never heard of Saranac Lake before.

“At first I was like, ‘Where? What is the name of this place? I’ve never heard of it” Cash said.

But they were happy to make history in Saranac Lake.

Chris Kinney, a 2018 Winter Olympic bobsledder who lives in Lake Placid to work as an athlete advisor, hails from Atlanta, Ga., where he says he used to go for brunch. He didn’t expect to end up like this when he moved here, but he was pleasantly surprised.

He said that although the event was smaller than in Atlanta, he enjoyed interacting with the queens more than at the big events in the cities.

“It was really fun for a small town and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.” Kinney said.

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