DC drag queen Kabuki Bukkake was arrested for “unwanted sexual assault” after she fell on top of an audience member during a Pride drag brunch. The performer was taken to jail in full drag and held for 38 hours before being released after prosecutors declined to file charges.
The queen had pulled the woman on stage during the performance when the accident occurred and her costume got caught on the woman’s top. One of the straps on the woman’s top ripped, but her breasts were not exposed.
LGBTQ Nation will refer to the performer by his drag name since charges weren’t filed. The Associated Press recently made a similar decision not to publish names in similar stories “out of concern that such stories can have a long, damaging afterlife on the internet.”
Kabuki, along with other performers, was performing at a brunch that was part of a Pride Month exhibit on drag culture at the Dupont Circle Underground space. He has performed his celebrity impersonation act at the Kennedy Center and is a fixture of the city’s drag brunch scene.
“I have to follow up on this because I as I understand it, the case was not papered, which means I was arrested with these charges, because that’s what the other person claimed. When this was presented to the prosecutors or to whoever when it goes up the up the ladder, it was dismissed. I didn’t see a judge. I didn’t talk to a prosecutor, none of that,” Kabuki told Metro Weekly. “But I was fingerprinted and was entered into a database of sorts. I mean, I have a mugshot on file. So I don’t know how this will haunt me moving forward.”
“I work in a nonprofit 12-step recovery clubhouse, so having these charges against me doesn’t make me look good. I’m also a dog walker. I take care of people’s dogs part time, and there are some people who trust me with their dogs, which are their babies, and their possessions, the keys to their house, their cars. The consequences go beyond just wanting to see me punished for whatever she claims I did.”
“If I walk into an employer and they say, ‘Have you ever been arrested?’ I have to let them know I’ve been arrested for sexual assault,” she said. “That is not something that I, as an employer, would look at and say, ‘Okay, this is the person I want working with us.’”
Other people in the audience told the newspaper that as Kabuki got up after the accident he grabbed the woman’s neck and it appeared that he was simulating oral sex. The woman stayed for the rest of the performance with a group of friends and reportedly called the police after telling her parents what happened at the show.
“They were sitting on the front row of the show and throughout the course of the evening they were enjoying the show, clapping and dancing and singing along and everything,” Shi-Queeta Lee, the drag queen organizer of the production, said. “She seemed happy-go-lucky with the friends she was with.”
Lee said the venue’s managers approached her to apologize for the accident and “then she was bawling, crying and saying that she was this and that. I don’t know what words transpired between the managers and her. And then she was fine and dandy. She was eating gummy bears or whatever [snack] they were eating with her friend.”
But after the woman called her parents and the police arrived, “she’s boo-hooing and crying and all that stuff all over again. And around 1:45 a.m., the cop says, ‘Unfortunately, we’re just doing our job. We do understand and we know what goes on and what happens in a drag show. And we really don’t want to arrest him, but we have to do our job, it’s protocol.’”
“I’d never been in jail, never been locked up,” Kabuki said. “I didn’t know what I was walking into. The amount of anxiety of the unknown is overwhelming, being in there with people yelling, fighting with police officers, yelling at each other. I had to relive my own sexual trauma for 38 fucking hours. I even almost started to believe that I was a sexual predator or something.”
“I’ve been doing drag for 25 years, and nothing has ever happened like that,” Lee added. “People have sometimes said they felt uncomfortable and spoken with the manager or to an individual entertainer afterwards. But for us to be in a safe space that was given to us at that time, and then for her to call the cops and say that she was sexually assaulted in front of 200 people, that’s ridiculous.”
“As an entertainer, as a member of the gay community, we were supposed to feel safe at this event,” Kabuki said. “That’s the whole point. That’s how pride started, and for something that could have, in my opinion, could have been addressed and taken care of right there on the spot, for it to be taken to the proportions that it was taken to, the ramifications of those actions have become bigger than the incident.”
“And I don’t want to undermine the trauma that the other person claims to have gone through because it was never my intention to cause any harm, psychological or physical, to anyone. And I don’t dismiss that, I only have my perspective, but I think it could have been addressed. I saw the young lady while I was waiting to speak to police. She was laughing and talking to the detective, while I’m over here thinking my life is over.”
“It’s also worth noting that the patron was white and female-presenting. White women using their tears to inflict pain on black people has been happening for centuries,” Lee told the Washington Blade.
“But unfortunately, it takes acts like catching Amy Cooper in Central Park on camera for people to realize that this display is weaponized against black and brown communities — often knowingly and intentionally.
“This past Saturday, the tears were out in force when the cops were around, but it was all laughs and smiles when the cops weren’t. I don’t know what was in this woman’s soul, but having seen videos of people like Amy Cooper in Central Park and knowing that no one would believe you if you said Amy was making up the tears, I can tell you that white woman need to understand the power of their tears and the pain it causes to so many black and brown people.”