Twenty Years of Lips

by Joseph Gerbino
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From one small restaurant in New York’s West Village, Lips has grown into a beloved nationwide chain with five locations in  Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego and Chicago.  

“We’re not surprised by the enormous success of Lips,” explains Yvonne Lame’,  the visionary who co-founded NYC's ultimate drag show palace, restaurant and dining experience with investors Michael Pacca, Paul Galluccio and Robert DeBenedictis.  “Fans love the uniqueness of the Lips experience.  We are more than a stage show because our performers are the waitresses too.  The interaction is unparalleled, the access unequaled, and that's what makes Lips special.” 

It all started twenty years ago when Lame’ was inspired to create a Las Vegas-style dinner theatre that looked like the inside of a drag queen’s jewelry box.  With the help of shoe designer Brenda Starr,  she designed the original eatery with bejeweled mirrors, crystal chandeliers, luxurious fabrics, a glittery stage and VIP cabanas.  It quickly became a beloved gay nightspot and a place for wild and crazy people to celebrate anything:  birthdays, bachelorette parties, divorces, graduations, promotions and more.

“We have an incredibly loyal gay clientele that fill our weekday dinner shows and Sunday Broadway Brunch,” says Lame’.  “But the weekend is bachelorette central. Ladies appreciate drag queens because, like us, they love fashion and makeup and they correctly view our transformations as a tribute to their beauty.”

In addition to nightly Vegas-style drag shows, Lips hosts special event evenings including Dragalicious Karaoke, Glitz and Glam Saturdays and Dinner with the Divas, one of New York’s longest-running drag shows.  Every night is filled with drinks, food, hoots, hollers, and sexiness.   Patrons under 21 must make reservations before 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The emphasis is always on fun.  Most of the performers got their start in drag at Lips and have perfected their craft on its stages. They are incredibly talented yet down to earth queens who have a desire to please their customers. Many have gone on to become international drag superstars, including Violet Chachki, season seven winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Lame’ describes the future of Lips as unstoppable and exciting.   She notes that partners Edward LaFaye and Michael Pacca are currently searching Texas, Washington and Washington DC for suitable locations. Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Boston are also on their radar.  A new Lips restaurant is scheduled to open soon in Chicago.