On every second and fourth Friday night of each month, The Alamo sports bar in Mt. Vernon, NY is packed with all different walks of life, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, college students, regular patrons and passerbys who walked in to see what the fuss is about.
The fuss is "Fierce Fridays" hosted by Amber Guesa. Amber has been doing drag for three years after since participating in an armature competition during their freshman year of college.
“I never did drag before that, but I did perform in the theatre, and variety shows in high school," Amber recalls. “After competing for the first time, I started to reach out and do gigs here and there in the area.”
Amber continued doing small gigs until they graduated college. When they moved to New Rochelle in Westchester County, they noticed there was not much of a drag scene. Amber reached out to a queen they admired, Tess Tickles, who asked for Amber to perform at her birthday show and became a member of the Westchester drag family.
The chance to host their own show came up when another queen could not host the bi-weekly shows. Amber took that chance.
“In the beginning, they weren’t sure if I could bring in crowds as I was fairly new to the scene and community myself. After the first four shows, they saw the potential in me and what the show could bring to the bar.”
Fierce Fridays at The Alamo are the only bi-weekly queer parties and drag shows in all of Westchester. There is no permanent queer space in all of the county.
The Alamo, which is a Brazilian sports bar during its regular hours, has its busiest nights during the shows. The shows do not just offer performances from drag queens; drag kings, burlesque dancers, and comedians also perform.
“I look forward to hosting the night every other week there because I have created a home where I feel most comfortable, and my patrons and friends agree,” Amber said.
An occassional performer at Fierce Fridays is Tess Tickles, a queen that has been doing drag professionally for three years but started going out in drag at 18.
“Fierce Fridays is currently what I’d consider our ‘safe space’ in Westchester right now. Currently, Westchester has zero queer spaces," Tess said. "This one night we have to make this straight sports bar a queer night means the world to our community. It attracts so many different kinds of people into one place, and everyone's here just trying to escape their problems and forget about everything they're stressing about for a minute.”
It is a common occurrence for people to stop the queens after each show for pictures and to compliment them on their outfits, hair, makeup and performance. The stranger you sit next to one minute becomes your friend that next as you bond over the experience you are both sharing.
Amber and the other queens make sure that everyone feels 100% welcome and safe during each show.
“It’s exciting to see all the new faces every week as well as my regulars I know by name. Drag has always been for me, a community where I can be myself as well as play a character while being accepted and praised.”
The next show is this Friday, and there is no cover fee, so come on over and show your support for the LGBTQ+ and the importance of queer spaces.