Bryan Watkins is accused of stealing money from an audience member during the “Drag Brunch” show in Las Vegas. The drag performer — who placed fourth in the first season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — denied the allegations. Police are reportedly investigating the incident.
Megan Gerber said she attended the “Drag Brunch” show — at Senor Frogs inside Treasure Island — to celebrate her birthday with friends and family last Saturday. As part of the show, Gerber said, Watkins rifled through her purse and stole between $500 and $700. Watkins hosts the show as his drag character, Shannel.
A TikTok video posted by Gerber seemed to show Watkins taking some cash, then giving the purse back and walking away. The video earned 5 million views and 500,000 likes before Gerber made it private on Thursday. According to subsequent videos posted by Gerber, after being confronted about the theft, Watkins replied, “Bitch, please, I took a dollar!”
Gerber claimed she and her party excused themselves midway through the show before reporting the incident to the venue’s general manager and police. She said Watkins cursed at her, calling her “Karen” while she left the show.
“Drag Brunch” is not affiliated with the “RuPaul’s Drag Race Live!” show running at the Flamingo since 2020.
On Wednesday, Watkins posted an 11-minute video to Instagram denying the allegations and apologizing to Gerber for losing control of his emotions.
“I did not steal $700 out of this person’s purse,” he said. “During my performance, I did pick up her purse and I danced around with it for probably 20 or 30 seconds or so. I opened it up. I took a couple of dollars out of it.” (The event-planning company behind the drag brunch show, Voss Events, told NBC News that the $2 was later returned.)
Watkins said “the bit with the purse” is an old drag-show staple. “Queens will grab a purse and you kind of run away with it. I see queens that will open up a purse and they’ll just start immediately going through it. No intention of any ill will is ever done with it.”
After the show, Watkins claimed in his video, the venue’s management offered Gerber a personal apology from him, a full $1,200 refund for her 9 tickets and an additional $700. He said she did not accept the resolution. Later, he claimed to have received an e-mail from Gerber’s attorney demanding more than $6,000, which included $5,000 in damages.
“I have definitely learned from this experience and, moving forward, I will never touch a guest’s personal belongings again,” Watkins said.
A spokesperson for the Las Vegas police told NBC news that the case “will be turned over to that bureau or detective to do a follow-up or investigation.”
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