"Whatamess" is about the expression that best sums up the debacle in which a restaurant chain denied service to a customer dressed in drag.
Erika Klash, a drag queen known for her appearance on the second season of The Boulet Brothers' Dragula, said a Whataburger in Austin barred her even entering and turned her away because she was in drag.
After reeling from the incident which took place in Austin, Texas, on November 16, Klash made it clear she was a professional artist and "not a security threat."
(1 of 2) I was just refused service at a @Whataburger in Austin, Texas because I was in drag. Manager didn’t want m… https://t.co/YLXXL2f86P— Erika Klash (@Erika Klash)1573974502.0
In a November 19 Facebook post, Klash explained it was difficult to identify the motivation for the establishment barring her from entry, but she also could not rule out discrimination.
“I REALLY want to believe that this was all a misunderstanding, but at this moment I cannot be certain."
"When one is in full drag, and there are strangers staring at you while you're being physically blocked from entering an establishment, AND the person blocking your entry does not give a clear reason for doing so, its [sic] hard for one not to wonder WHY all of that is happening."
“As a queer person, It's also hard to feel safe in those moments."
Klash had been in Texas performing at the 2019 Austin International Drag Festival when she was denied entry at a Whataburger location on Saturday night around 11 p.m.
After being turning away, she still had a craving for Whataburger and opted to go to another location and utilize their drive-through.
A representative for the restaurant chain issued an apology for the unfortunate incident, and wrote:
“We apologize you had a bad experience at Whataburger."
“We love all of our customers & we are investigating the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident."
@ErikaKlash We apologize you had a bad experience at Whataburger. We love all of our customers & we are investigati… https://t.co/CGMQdpyjgC— Whataburger® (@Whataburger®)1574027071.0
Klash continued on her Facebook post:
"They apologized, recorded my statement on the incident, and are currently investigating. I am told the investigation will be completed this week."
But according to a report in The Daily Mail, the drag personality added that the fast food company's apology was a little under-cooked, citing a lack of any “discriminatory intent."
"They did concede that the issue was mishandled by staff."
Klash was told by the manager of the second location that the company has a policy about refusing service to patrons wearing masks.
Her elaborate makeup may have fallen under that violation.
“I was wearing makeup and their mask policy was irresponsibly applied to my issue."
“There was no proper assessment, no mention of policy and we were not made aware of anything."
@ErikaKlash @Whataburger 😡 This person is ignorant. Is it possible it was a rogue manager? I hope it’s not corporat… https://t.co/QscofPC1WS— AnnaMarie_MN 🌿 (@AnnaMarie_MN 🌿)1574011321.0
The San Francisco based drag queen is known for invoking Japanese manga and anime with a twist of horror for her looks.
On the evening of the Whataburger incident, Klash was dressed as Monokum, a character from the video game Danganronpa.
While Austin is generally known for its embracing culture and inclusion of LGBTQ+, Klash was still left with questions.
“I was told that a local ordinance in Austin protects LGBTQ folks from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."
“However it seems that the question of whether this refusal of entry/service was in violation of that ordinance in particular still remains."
@ErikaKlash @thatonequeen @Whataburger Wtf which whataburger was it?? Usually the one on Barton springs lets queens… https://t.co/jl4dFgEgZW— Gay of Sunshine (@Gay of Sunshine)1574004518.0
@ErikaKlash @Whataburger Not cool. Austin should be better than this...and Whataburger should be expecting professi… https://t.co/ZWJ5wtcjdy— Dawn H (@Dawn H)1573996451.0
Her allies were armed and ready for a wet standoff.
@ErikaKlash @Whataburger coming to rob them https://t.co/MvpN8bFUx8— julia chiu (@julia chiu)1573977770.0
@ErikaKlash @Whataburger WOWWWWW so much for "pride at every location" ... so damn shameful @Whataburger please inv… https://t.co/qSrsKQTgPn— 🄳🄴🄰🄳🄿🄰🄽 (@🄳🄴🄰🄳🄿🄰🄽)1573976467.0
@ErikaKlash @Whataburger I am so sorry that happened 😢 Absolutely disgusting behavior against such a kind and gener… https://t.co/qF65u4gwmG— Suzanne Egan (@Suzanne Egan)1574006509.0
@ErikaKlash @Whataburger Wow. @Whataburger what the hell?? You done messed up now. Ericka is a NATIONALLY KNOWN AR… https://t.co/KnP23Gy1BE— Trans Daddy (@Trans Daddy)1573990876.0
Klash explained why she chose to expose Whataburger for their greasy episode.
“It was really important that I speak out about this because I wanted to make these commitments public and we need to continue to hold them accountable."
'It has not deterred me from the goal to stand up for myself, the drag community and other queer people."
She concluded her post by encouraging everyone to do better and to "blow the whistle" if they feel they've been treated poorly.
The book Drag: The Complete Story (A Look at the History and Culture of Drag) is available here.