Chasity Valentino Announces Sunday Protest of Hamburger Mary’s Owner David Pardue. Danielle Hunter Goes Live in Defense of Embattled Restaurateur **UPDATED**

Chasity Valentino

On Tuesday evening, Chasity Valentino announced a protest against Hamburger Mary’s owner David Pardue with the following post:

LGBTQIA+ Community stands against Dave Pardue, owner of Hamburger Mary’s St. Louis, Missouri.

St. Louis, Mo on Sunday July 5th 2020 a group of local community members will come together to protest owner of Hamburger Mary’s St. Louis, Dave Pardue at 400 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102.

We believe it is important that Pardue be exposed for exhibiting racism, transphobia, and sexual assault on members of the LGBTQIA+ community. With our protest, we endeavor to bring awareness to the fact that Pardue has numerous allegations against him that include sexual assault, racism towards customers and staff, as well as transphobia towards the Drag Queens employed by him.

Time is up for abusers. We will not stand for people having power or control any longer. We believe that David Pardue should be removed from ownership of Hamburger Mary’s St. Louis, as well as removal from the School Board in Fairview Heights, IL at Grant Middle School, and stripped from his role on the board of directors for pageants.

The protest will include stories from victims of David Pardue’s violence toward the community.

Late Tuesday evening Danielle Hunter went live to defend Pardue, which she describes as a close friend. “There’s a lot of girls who work there and we need our job and we love David.” WATCH HERE

House of Markstone Responds to Hunter

Danielle Hunter was part of the House of Markstone, living at their Drag Embassy on South Grand, before siding with Pardue in a feud.

Alicia Markstone unloaded on Hunter after last night’s video.

Danielle Hunter, As I watched your performance tonight I was actually saddened by your life. For the 35+ years I’ve known you, you have continually destroyed not only me but everyone you have come in contact with. Thrown me to the trash so many times to get what you want I have lost count. I didn’t want to forgive you this time but you sat on my couch and said “ I have changed a lot I’m not that horrible person anymore” I gave in because unlike you I am good. I was good enough to sew for you for nearly free to free. All the way up to the minute you lied about everything and frantically moved out because I was “evil” well the week before you did this it was ok I made you 7 costumes for New Year’s Eve weekend. For free Yep that’s evil. You knowingly took the side of someone that did me horribly wrong, over mine. You let him be so mean and cruel to me , because he could give you work and be your meal ticket. But you have done this my entire life to me. You have never been good to me you have always used me. Had me put in jail for something you were responsible for and threaten my ability to get hiv medicine. All the time. You have been ran out of every place you’ve ever lived because you are evil. I was still afraid of you until I realized that I lived in a city that sees your evil too. I am proud and you can no longer hurt me. I have reclaimed my strength that you have stolen from me over 35 years……..

UPDATE: Facebook link for the demonstration is live.

UPDATE: Robyn Hearts and Tiffany Hunter are Out


Segment begins at the 15:00 mark. WATCH


I worked there for about 5 months and experienced a lot of micro aggressive racism from David making comments like “who would want to be black” to singling out black employees and trans employees for “jokes” that only he really laughed at. If there was a table of black patrons, he would joke negatively about them being cousins of black employees, especially if they were difficult. Sexual remarks about my ass where made often and I’ve been groped by his husband more than once during shifts and drag shows. He and his husband often made sexual advances and jokes towards a another guy we worked with.

Dexter Peebles

In October of 2019 I lent costumes to David Pardue of Hamburger Mary’s and Miss Gay America to help him decorate for the national Miss Gay America Pageant. Afterwards due to lies spread by a member of his cast and former roommate of mine our cordial relationship ended. My belongings were still in Davids possession. Over the months following our falling out, David and his group of friends proceeded in an attempt to ruin my professional and personal reputation by spreading falsities about me being physically abusive, a drug addict and trash among many other slanderous rumors. I could write an entire novel about the experiences I’ve had with David Pardue, but he’s taken enough from me already. I’ll leave you with his words, after I kindly reached out (again nearly a year after lending them) to retrieve my belongings.“Oh Janessa… may have a few fooled in this city but trust you are nothing and will always be nothing.”

Should this voice be allowed to continue pretending to be a leader in our community?

-Janessa M Highland

Gay Republicans Cancel Krista Versace

I’ve said Krista Versace is the Elektra of St. Louis

I’ve joked privately to friends that Krista Versace is our own Elektra–the villainess diva on Pose. She’s a bitch and always has been, but she’s fierce and she’s ours. 

Yesterday Versace was fired from Hamburger Mary’s after a handsome gay Republican with a large social media following accused her of bullying him and dicslosing his HIV status and past drug use. The post where the exchange took place, which was on Just John bartender Kareem Lahai-Pumagoi’s wall, has been removed. I haven’t seen images of the comment and it seems images haven’t been produced. 

“I never said he had HIV. I said he was a drug addicted porn star prostitute and has had his virus for over two decades, something he’s publicly talked about” Versace said in reference to the man’s interview with POZ Magazine. 

“I hate to see it” begins longtime follower Mac Taylor upon hearing of Versace’s termination. “Krista is a bitch but a bitch you enjoy. Like an Alexis Carrington. I remember she had on this baby blue jumper once, sipping on a glass of white wine at the back bar at the Complex. I stopped and told her, mid sip, that the blue was a really good color for her and without missing a beat as I walked on toward the bathroom she yelled back at me ‘ANY COLOR!’”

According to bartender Kareem Lahai-Pumagoi, the same gay Republican behind the campaign against Versace has been viciously targeting him over his support of Black Lives Matter for some time. On a since-deleted post where Lahai-Pumagoi shared numerous screenshots, he writes: “This dude is trash. So obsessed with clout chasing. His narcissism knows no bounds and I love how he’s attempting to intimidate me by blowing up my IG and Facebook page. It’s harassment and you have zero power over my life.” 

I’m withholding the name of the gay Republican and his known Trump supporting associates at this time as I wait to see a fuller picture of what occurred in the coming days. I don’t condone mocking someone’s status, period. As far as being bullied, though, it’s hard to see someone as a victim when they love trolling “libtards” and using their sizable following to harass people of color. 

Knowing that Kareem Lahai-Pumagoi seems to be next on the gay Republican hit list, it’s important for the community to be vigilant. In St. Louis especially we’ve seen cancel culture co-opted by narcissists time and again to advance their own self-interests.


Let me add my 2 cents without going into a lot of details. The other day this same gay republican (GP) called my bar and demanded to speak to one of the owners because he was upset with what Kareem had posted on his own FB page. FYI, it had absolutely nothing to do with my bar. I told the GP that this was in between him and Kareem and that they needed to work it out. He did not like my answer and threatened me by saying he had thousands of followers and that he was going to blast my bar is a negative way on his page. I told him to be my guest and then he immediately hung up on me. He called me back within 3 minutes apologizing. Kareem and the GP did end up talking and the post was removed. Kareem and I both thought he was in a good place but evidently not. This GP was determined to get “someone” fired. What a POS! In my opinion, Krista should NOT be fired. They need to hire her back. I have nothing but respect for Krista. This GP talks publicly about everything she mentioned.This pandemic has brought out the worst in people. Our bar is only allowing 25% of our capacity but we are at 150% worth of drama since opening. People are going out of their minds. It is like they have all been cooped up for months and now they just need to start some kind of DRAMA


“WHAT AN EGOTISTICAL PRICK! SUCH AN ASSHOLE! SO HURTFUL AND DISGUSTING!” Kareem exclaimed upon hearing of Verace’s termination.

Kareem called me to defend Versace. “Krista did not disclose his status. He disclosed it himself on that very thread! He then deleted the comments.”

Kareem said the gay Republican, since outed as Matt Shiermeier, had been harassing him for three weeks, triggered by Kareem telling Shiermeier “You don’t have the clout you think you do.”

Since then, Kareem says, Shiermeier has been bombarding him with messages about how popular he is. He also has his followers post laughing emoji on Kareem’s photos, and on the photos of those who engage with Kareem’s posts.

After John O. Arnold was unpersuaded to terminate Kareem, Kareem reached out directly to Shiermeier. “What is the deal that you do nothing but think about this all day at 42 years old. Don’t you have friends?”

Kareem said Shiermeier said no and began crying. He thought they had some sort of breakthrough, and is furious that Shiermeier cost Versace her position.


Standards of Shade

Shade has always been part of queer culture, but with the advent of social media shade has gone mainstream and unfortunately that means everyone thinks they know how to throw it, often with cringeworthy results. 

I’ve broken down shade into four categories so you can better appreciate when it’s done artfully, and dismiss it when it’s not. 

Ballroom Legend Mechee Harper

Ballroom Standard: The Ballroom Standard (think Pose) is the Gold Standard. 

“Ballroom is shade. I grew up in shade,” says ballroom legend Mechee Harper, who was recently tagged in a post throwing shade her way. On that very post where someone shaded her, Harper replied, “Feel free to check my wall for my response. I wouldn’t dare reply on such a low trending thread. Bye.”

And of course on her wall, she delivered a quality read.

Ballroom shade is delivered with the same skill, precision, and nimble improvisation as if the two parties were “battling” on stage. The mere fact that shade is being thrown isn’t enough for the discerning audience. 

Facebook Friendly Shade: Saying an actual name can land you in Facebook jail if reported which is one reason most social media shade stops just short of naming names. To make the shade credible, though, the post must be public.  

While not the fine art of Ballroom, Facebook Friendly Shade can still be witty and effective, while letting you live to shade another day. 

Sassy Screenshot Shade: This spineless approach involves blocking someone and then vaguely (no real name) reading them, counting on folks to send the read party screenshots. Sadly, the kind of person who does this typically has equally undiscerning friends who shower them with attention, enforcing the cringeworthy behavior. 

“Tell Camp” Standard: Named after a man infamous for this approach, Tell Camp is the “block and talk” approach on steroids, and is the lowest, most underhanded, and least respected form of shade. There’s vigorous debate as to whether it should even be classified as shade, as that gives it too much credit. Not only are you talking about someone who can’t defend themselves, you are actually using their name while doing it. Reputationally, it’s a suicide bomber approach.

Shade is a cultural art form passed down through drag families and ballroom houses. Just as you wouldn’t run onto an NBA court and try to compete, amateurs are best served by watching the show from the sidelines, lest you find your name forever associated with your humiliating efforts.

Controversy Engulfs Producer Chuck Pfoutz as Defenders Cite Racism

Chuck Pfoutz at New York Fashion Week

Last week’s social media firestorm rages on, ignited by reports of a proposed “Trans Murder Mystery” skit during The Maximum Exposure Fashion Series: Beyond the Binary. The venue, Mad Art Gallery, dropped the event, and producer Chuck J. Pfoutz opted to cancel rather than find a new location.

Outraged commenters swarmed Pfoutz’s social media pages to say he was transphobic, and accused him of seeking to exploit the trans community for financial gain. Trans performer Billy Midol has taken credit for pressuring Mad Art to cancel, and has proclaimed that Chuck’s career is over in St. Louis.

India Reid is among Pfoutz’s main defenders.

As the online debate raged and the threads grew, one pattern became clear: Pfoutz’s detractors were almost exclusively white, while his defenders were largely people of color.

Friend and model India Reid, a trans woman of color, says it was her idea to highlight violence against the trans community based on her own experiences, and decries what she sees as racism against Pfoutz’s diverse cast.

“Chuck has a very good name in the African-American Community” -India Reid

“Our community is just like any other community, with Caucasians on one side and African-Americans on the other” Reid begins. “I’m a trans woman who has been through violence and abuse from a spouse. I was discussing this with Chuck, who told me he lost a trans friend to violence. We decided to speak on it. The ‘Trans Murder Mystery’ was just a working title until we could decide what to call it.”

In a nod to the public relations disaster that resulted from the title, Reid said, “The title was misleading.”

Not Ready to Make Nice

Reached for comment this morning, Pfoutz was defiant. “I will not tolerate and enable the racism in the St. Louis LQBTQ Community. This beautiful person has the right to tell her story. They turned a blind eye on her just like they turned a blind eye on Marsha P. Johnson for decades and she gave us our voices.”

Pfoutz during a January 2019 interview at Villadiva

Cancel Culture Versus St. Louis Culture

I’ve long said St. Louis is where the disgraced stay in place. In many cities, someone engulfed in controversy would pack up and head to the next town. Here, folks just wait it out. As a non-native, it’s taken me a long time to understand certain things about the local culture, mainly the ride or die nature of friendships. Regardless of how much someone is in the wrong, their defenders will come out swinging if they believe people are piling on their friend. I can think of several instances where someone had a shameful public moment, but in the end fared much better than those who attacked them over it.

There’s also a disdain for anyone seen as abusing their power and influence. If one ever gets drunk on power here, this town will sober them up quick, as I’ve learned from experience. St. Louisans will offer you some room to have an objection or opinion, but when they determine you’re interfering with one’s ability to peacefully exist, they turn en masse.

I’ve followed and covered Pfoutz for a few years and while this working title of the skit was clearly disastrous, I’ve never seen any trait of malice or discrimination in him. Quite the opposite, as echoed by many who have worked on his projects.

Beyond the Binary

Regarding the “Transphobia or Racism” debate, I dismiss both. I do not at all believe Pfoutz is anti-trans and I don’t believe his detractors are motivated by racism. I do, however, believe his detractors need to do a better job listening to people of color.

In addition to her public comments defending Pfoutz, Reid said she’s tried to calm the controversy behind the scenes as well, which has proved difficult because Pfoutz’s core detractors have such an intense hatred for him. “Just because you don’t like someone doesn’t mean they’re transphobic. It just means you don’t like them. You have to know the difference.”

Addressing Conflicts

I consider Chuck a friend, but I also have a good working relationship with writer Terry Willits, who has publicly denounced him. We have agreed to disagree on this subject, and both look forward to continuing our collaboration on the upcoming Out in STL Influence Issue and other projects.

Note: The original piece incorrectly identified India Reid as a board member of Metro Trans Umbrella Group. I apologize for the error.

An Optimist on Failure

I woke to screen shots of three or four people ripping me to shreds last night (after a bit of pot stirring), and when that happens I’m always intrigued by what they focus on. In this case, one argument was that I couldn’t make it in New York. 

I drove in Manhattan twice: When I arrived and when I left.

Not only is that true, there’s an entire chapter in my book about it. 

I was living in Oakland with my husband of a dozen years when he fell in love with someone else. Moving to New York was something I had intended to do since I was fifteen, and I considered it to be the unfinished business of my life.  The silver lining in the separation was that I had nothing left to lose (I even quoted Janis Joplin in the closing of my way too personal notice to my Berkeley employer–a letter they used against me when I tried to file for unemployment to fund a few extra months in New York). The decision to make that leap also allowed me to deliver one of the best lines of my entire life, when my flippant husband came home and I announced out of the blue, “At this point in your life you need to be single, and I need to be in New York.” 

The euphoria of being liberated, which lasted through a weeklong cross country trip visiting friends from Oklahoma City to Detroit, was followed by a crash once I arrived and reality set in, and New York was not the kind of place you go to lick your wounds and regroup. With several real estate recruiters telling me, “Nobody in this town will hire you without Manhattan experience,” writing jobs offering $25k, my savings dwindling, and the only regional job prospects being in places like Philadelphia and Hartford, I had another epiphany. This was an opportunity to downshift, return to St. Louis, and finish my long delayed book, Delusions of Grandeur

My view while living in Manhattan

So yes, it’s true I did not succeed in New York, there’s just not much power in that insult when it’s something I’ve written about years earlier. My failures are something I own, and they are an asset to my craft. 

The only thing in the screen shots that annoyed me is the claim that I “crawled back to St. Louis,” as if this isn’t where I wanted to be. 

I lived in San Francisco for a total of eight years (over two periods of time, and with the last year in Oakland) and during that time I not only wrote about how St. Louis was my muse, I convinced friends from around the nation to converge in St. Louis for events based on my stories about this place. On a civic pride level, I don’t like people describing this as a last-resort town. 

I’m not from here, and there are certainly easier places to live. 

My perspective as an optimist is there’s value in seeing what they’re saying, as long as you don’t let it get to you. Maybe someone will say something you can learn from, or maybe you’ll read it and think “Is that it?” 

I also know that by this little group focusing on me, they gave another target the night off, and that person probably needed it.