The Bay Area led the way when it came to online drag shows during the panda. But betwixt The Stud’s “Drag Alive” to streaming swish of Oaklash’s 2020 edition, only one performance revue rose to the top when it came to last year’s Best of the Bay award for Best Streaming Show, and that was Nicki Jizz‘s all-Black and openly wealth-redistributing Reparations show.
The superlative reflects the urgent need for Black representation in the drag spotlight.
“I wish I had a show like this when I was a young baby gay,” Jizz—who also snagged our readers’ award for Best Drag Queen—told 48hills in an email interview days before Reparations IRL debut Fri/9 at Oasis. “Something that truly amplified Black talent and celebrated the melanin in my skin.”
Happily for the next gen, Jizz made baby Nicki’s dream come true when she hosted the first edition of Reparations on Juneteenth 2020 under the tagline “Be There Or Be Racist.” Now slated to become a monthly (with a continued online streaming option to ensure accessibility) the show does not hesitate to connect the dots when it comes to our support of local performers and racial justice.
That approach extends to its lineups—this week, ready your billfold for distribution between Rahni Nothingmore, Sir Joq, Meatball, Militia Scunt, Bionka Simone, and Madd Dog 20/20, not to mention a live set by Qing Qi and visuals by Dollii, with DJ Kidd on beats—as well as its pricing structure. Black attendees will pay $10 at the Oasis door, while non-Black fans pay $15 for general admission, with the option to drop an extra $10 to ensure a Black trans person can watch the show.
To celebrate one of SF’s favorite pandemic pleasures transitioning into this brave new IRL nightlife—with a brand new theme song from East Bay vocalist Freddie—we chatted with Jizz about how the role of Black drag has evolved during the pandemic, maintaining activist integrity, and the global support for the Bay’s Black performers that Reparations has made possible.
48HILLS Can you talk about how you see the state of Black drag in the Bay Area today? How has that answer changed—or has it changed—over the last year and a half that you’ve been doing Reparations?
NICKI JIZZ The Bay Area has some amazingly talented and creative Black performers, like Honey Mahogany, Rahni Nothingmore, Bionka Simone, and many more, who inspired me to start drag. I think over the past year and half drag bars/venues and non-Black show producers have read the room and started creating more diversity in their lineups and in their staff. It’s really beautiful to see the flyers with majority BIPOC performers. I would say pre-pandemic it would sometimes be the opposite. It would take it being a Nicki Minaj or Beyoncé night to have a cast with majority Black performers. With Reparations, every night is stacked with a talented lineup of Black performers, every night is Beyoncé night.
48HILLS What is the most significant aspect for you of overseeing a Black-run, Black-benefiting drag series?
NICKI JIZZ I do this show for the Black performers/artist that don’t get to see themselves represented on stages or in mainstream media. I wish I had a show like this when I was a young baby gay, something that truly amplified Black talent and celebrated the melanin in my skin. There is something truly magical and inspiring about seeing shows with a full cast that you can relate to, and represent who you are as a person, from skin to gender identity.
48HILLS You swept multiple categories in this year’s Best of the Bay awards, largely due to the success of Reparations. Did the eager response to the show surprise you?
NICKI JIZZ I was honestly shocked and most importantly truly honored with winning the Best of the Bay awards last year. With the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the BLM protests of the summer of 2020, I felt like I needed to do something in my own way to support the Black lives movement. I knew that doing a show like Reparations that centered Black artists was something that would pique people’s interest, but not to the extent of where it has gone. With everything being digital, I was able to broaden my audience to more than just the Bay Area. I have people from all over the country, even Argentina, Japan, and the UK. I appreciate the support from the community and I love that I can spotlight amazing Black performers, and give their artistry a chance to growth and flourish.
48HILLS Has the project been successful in supporting Black performers, as per the show’s name?
NICKI JIZZ OMG yes! This show is about amplifying Black talent but also about putting some coins in Black wallets too. Shaming white people for appropriating Black culture on TikTok and getting them to pay Reparations is the trick, lol. Over the past year, we have raised over $20k to be put back into the pockets of our amazing cast. We have had raffles with sponsored prizes from brands like Sugarpill, Laruce Beauty, and Tequila El Rey, with the proceeds going to benefit Black-led organizations and mutual aid. For the in-person shows we even have a discounted tier of tickets for Black people only, and another tier called the “Reparations” tier where non-Black people can pay the cover for a Black trans person. Money is great, but it isn’t everything—sometimes just supporting a Black artist with a follow on Instagram or streaming their music can go a long way towards showing appreciation and respect for someone’s talent and art. It cost zero dollars to hit a like, follow, or share button.
48HILLS The Oasis debut also marks the first time that you’re going IRL. How are you feeling about the world re-opening, and the show’s place in it?
NICKI JIZZ Not gonna lie, im a bit nervous but im ready to trade in my sweats for heels and get back on the Oasis stage again. Its been a long year-and-a-half-plus of being sequestered from the world, and lot has changed in that time. People were stuck at home and couldn’t escape the reality of systemic racism and police brutality in this country. I want people to take that same energy they had protesting and making BLM signs in the summer of 2020 with them into everyday life, and not just towards posting a Black square on Instagram. I’m ready for things to reopen, and to make nightlife vibrant again—and most importantly Black! I’m excited for the future of Reparations, for bringing amazing and talented Black artists from the Bay and beyond together onstage.
48HILLS What do you think will be the biggest change for the audience at the show now that Reparations performers are stepping out from behind the screen?
NICKI JIZZ I think people can expect to feel the energy, the electricity, and the power of the performers more! Expect fierce Black performers slaying it on stage and snatching all the dollars. I plan on having live musicians and even incorporating elements of digital drag. I want to make Reparations as accessible as possible, so we will be streaming the show live from the club on OasisTv for those who cant make it to in-person shows. I will miss having my dog sitting in my lap, just out of frame of the camera during the digital streams.oh and more skin! twitch had too many restrictions/guidelines and I hated it! get ready for more booty shorts!
REPARATIONS Fri/9, 10pm-3am, $10 Black admission, $15 general admission, $25 general admission + reparations. Oasis, SF. More info and tickets here.