Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many queer spaces around the country have permanently closed their doors, but Tracy Martel isn’t going to let that happen on her watch.
After years of performing around the world, Trixie Mattel knows a thing or two about gay bars. The RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 winner is putting that knowledge to good use by buying Wisconsin’s oldest LGBTQ bar. Trixie — a Wisconsin native — now co-owns Milwaukee’s This Is It! alongside George Schneider, the bar’s longtime owner.
“A lot of drag queens [in Milwaukee] made This Is It! our happy hour moment before we had to put on the wig and go do the drag show,” Trixie told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “My relationship is such that sometimes I will come from General Mitchell [Milwaukee’s airport] to the bar with my bags. It really is like the Cheers in Milwaukee. I met some of my lifelong best friends there.”
This Is It! was the first gay bar Trixie, a.k.a. Brian Firkus, ever visited after she turned 21. She continued to perform at and visit the bar whenever she would come back to her home state, even convincing Schneider to install TVs and host Drag Race viewing parties.
“I’ve gone to every bar on the planet, and it’s really honed some of my keen senses of what works and doesn’t work in a nightlife environment,” Mattel said. “Even before I was officially with This Is It!, George and I had a lot of conversations about things to try, things I saw work at other bars halfway across the planet.”
Trixie currently lives in L.A. but recently bought a place back in Milwaukee, along with a house for her mom, who still lives in Wisconsin.
“All my tour dates moved to 2021, and now my ’21 tour dates have moved to 2022. To be honest, it reminded me of how important my roots in Wisconsin are,” Trixie explained. “I moved my whole family to Milwaukee, I have a house in Milwaukee, now I have a bar in Milwaukee. 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. I miss living there, and this year definitely I had a little bit more of a self-assessment about what do I really want and what other things in my life do I feel like are missing.”
“In 2020, it’s been thrown in our faces that queer spaces can disappear like that,” she added. “And it really makes you think this is a really valuable service we are providing, not just to the community, but to humanity. People need this. They really do.”
We already know what we’ll be ordering when we visit This Is It! Perhaps an UNHhhh-tini or a Mattel Mai Tai? All we know is that it better be half-price drinks for balds!