When San Francisco shut down due to the pandemic, cabaret Oasis started a meal delivery service, complete with a full drag performance.
Oasis, a popular nightclub and cabaret based in San Francisco, has found a creative way to make the best out of the city's ongoing shutdown. The nightclub has started a meal delivery service for customers in the city, but there's more than just food and beverage. Every delivery comes with a customer's own personal drag show. The initiative, called Meals on Heels, features drag queens from the cabaret and is the brainchild of Oasis owner D'Arcy Drollinger, aged 51. Drollinger bought out his business partners to become the full owner of Oasis right before the pandemic hit, so this initiative has helped him keep his business afloat, CNN reports.
"The show must go on!" The owner said in an interview with CNN. "It's like doing a drag show. If your zipper breaks or the DJ loses your song, you've got to figure out what to do. Put some duct tape on it and keep going." When you order a meal from Meals on Heels, in addition to a delicious, homemade, and restaurant-quality dinner, you will also be able to enjoy a fun drag performance—all while social distancing. Drollinger came up with the idea when Oasis ran out of funds from the Paycheck Protection Program. Instead of laying off his staff and continuing to pay rent, he decided to take the show on the road.
Local government officials made an announcement that bars could deliver alcohol if they also delivered food, so Drollinger decided to partner with the local catering business Martha Avenue to do exactly that. At first, he thought a drag king or queen could deliver the food with some of the club's signature cocktails. After trying it out "just once" way back in June, however, it has become a staple in San Francisco. At first, deliveries were only made on Fridays. Oasis has since expanded to delivering on Thursdays as well. The owner said of the initiative, "It brings so much joy to people who haven't left their house for a long time. And it's also providing some income for a lot of the performers who had at least half, if not all, of their income come from the drag shows that suddenly got taken away completely."
For Roxy-Cotten Candy, who has been a regular at Oasis and a drag performer for over a decade now, the Meals on Heels initiative is the safest way to continue performing (apart from recording videos at home). They said it has been equally tough and rewarding. "It's been pretty cool to actually physically have that eye connection and in-the-moment performing," they said. "[But] it's hard! In San Francisco, you're on hills and in heels, trying to do high energy but at the same time preserve your energy for seven more numbers." Roxy gets dropped off to a customer's location by a driver.and as soon as they step out of the car, the show begins.
They will turn a Bluetooth speaker as high as it will go and begin performing, making jokes about having to run the whole show by themselves and entertain right from the moment they open the car door. So far, customers have called in for a Meals on Heels delivery to surprise their friends on their birthdays. Sometimes, they will even bring their neighbors out. One time, a customer notified their entire apartment building so everyone could come out and have a good time watching the drag show. "The amount of gratitude that people have for it has been overwhelming," Roxy stated. "There has been really kind financial support from the patrons that was unexpected." While tipping is not necessary, just like at any other drag show, it is always encouraged.
The deliveries, which can run up to $105 per meal, don't exactly provide a huge source of income for Oasis. Nonetheless, it has been enough to keep the lights on. More recently, the club opened up its rooftop to small groups and socially distant performances. Additionally, Drollinger has started a weekly news roundup on YouTube. The owner explained, "We're trying to find ways to keep that energy of what the club meant for people, but in this time to not let it just disappear." As things return to a new kind of normal, Drollinger believes Meals on Heels may continue even after Oasis reopens fully. "There are so many lemons right now, might as well make lemonade," he affirmed. "And there's a lot to be made!"