Trixie Mattel Comes to the Rescue of Milwaukee Gay Bar

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday February 4, 2021

"RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 7 contestant and "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" champion Trixie Mattel hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When This Is It! — a gay bar in her home town, and, having operated for 53 years, the state's oldest -— faced hard times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mattel stepped up to help ensure the bar would weather the downturn, local newspaper the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

The bar has played a central role in the city's, and the state's, LGBTQ culture, USA Today noted. But it was also, the newspaper recalled, "the first LGBTQ+ bar that Brian Firkus — who developed his Mattel drag character in Milwaukee — visited after turning 21."

Mattel, speaking to the Journal Sentinel via Zoom, said that drag performers in the city "made This Is It! our happy hour moment before we had to put on the wig and go do the drag show.

"My relationship is such that sometimes I will come from General Mitchell" — the city's airport — "to the bar with my bags."

Added Mattel, "It really is like the Cheers in Milwaukee. I met some of my lifelong best friends there."

This Is It! owner George Schneider had taken on debt to expand the venue not long before the crisis hit, the Journal Sentinel reported. That made an already-devastating downturn that much worse.

But now that the recording artist and comedian "has become a co-owner," she "plans to use her celebrity and business savvy to help make This Is It! a 'destination,' " the story noted.

The Journal Sentinel said that Mattel, who lives in Los Angeles, had seen the pandemic ravage LA's gay bars, with at least half a dozen establishments shuttering over the course of the health and economic catastrophe. Her love for her home town's famed gay night spot played into her decision.

"She'd host after-parties there whenever her tour came to town and would make other special appearances," the Journal Sentinel noted. "She helped convince Schneider to install TVs for 'Drag Race' watch parties, and frequently praises the bar in interviews."

"I'm lucky enough that when people think of Milwaukee they do think of me a little bit, and if somebody comes to Milwaukee they may go, 'Oh my God, doesn't Trixie Mattel have a bar here? We have to go,' " Mattel told the newspaper.

Scheider spoke to the hope that Mattel's involvement brought to This Is It!, telling the Journal Sentinel, "Trixie has roots here in Wisconsin, and made good on all of her talent and ability, and still recognizes the value not just of her hometown, but the places she holds close that are also near and dear to their hearts."

Mattel's own words underscored her sentiments: "I just love home, and to me, it's important for me to grow my roots a little deeper and have more of a recurring reason to come home and have more of a presence in the city."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.