Anthony Stamey and three siblings grew up queer in the Bible Belt. As tough as that experience was, it certainly provided them with a story to tell, people to parody and inspiration for entertainment.
That inspiration was the force behind Yes, God!, a drag show and stage production Anthony launched with his brother Ryan in 2018. The second running of the show, based on their life in the church, will run on July 12 and 13 at Visulite Theatre.
Before anyone gets any ideas, Anthony reassures me that the show is not meant to bash religion or specifically Christianity. The high-camp drag show is an ode to their upbringing in the church, and while it turns the Southern Baptist church service on its head, it also highlights the endearing aspects that they loved as children.
“It’s not get up there and be crass for no reason. It has some heart to it. And it’s embracing part of our history,” Anthony says.
In Yes, God!, Anthony and Ryan assume their drag personas of Charlotte Douglas — yes, inspired by the city’s airport — and Robyn O’Ladies, respectively, to lead an inclusive church service featuring silly announcements and original hymns as the pastors of their own church of drag.
“We want queer people — and other people who were pushed out of the church or would like to still maybe be part of the church, but feel like they can’t — we want them to be safe and let them know, you are not alone just come and have a cathartic experience with us,” Anthony says.
After a sold-out show at Petra’s in 2018, the brothers’ partnered with Visulite to accommodate more people and give a home to their up-and-coming drag show company.
Fresh off the heels of writing and producing a new show, The Devil Made Me Duet, the first they performed at Visulite Theatre on May 18, the two had their work cut out for them to write a new version of Yes, God!
Despite both Anthony and Ryan having full-time jobs outside of the company and regularly performing elsewhere around town as Robyn and Charlotte, the duo’s creativity flourishes in the shows they write and host themselves.
Yes, God! is a combination of brothers’ Bible Belt roots and queer identities.
“Being Southern is very part of Robyn and Charlotte. And I think a lot of people like to forget that part of their past, but we want to embrace it,” Anthony says. “We are proud to be Southern, we are proud to be queer, and our shows are unapologetically both of those things.”
Church-goers should expect comedy, music and an uplifting experience from Charlotte and Robyn as pastors. Arguably, the most important thing the congregation should expect is the absolute campiness that the two drag queens incorporate into their sermon.
Camp as a style is something carefully approached with opposing silliness and seriousness at the same time, Anthony says.
“It’s like those Southern people that are so serious about something but if you look at it, it’s just completely goofy,” Anthony explains about the high-camp structure of Yes, God! “So it’s like playing something and flipping it on its head. So we’re two drag pastors, we’re taking ourselves so seriously, but you can see past that, that we just don’t know anything we’re talking about.”
Because in the end, who really does?