Performers jammed, dancers in their skivvies gyrated, and bartenders broke down their favorite drinks — all while keeping a safe distance in an audience-free club during the coronavirus outbreak in California and around the world. In other words, the drag and go-go show must go on.
A gay nightclub in Los Angeles began live-streaming a drag and go-go show on Friday night in hopes of helping out its performers who are unable to dance and lip-sync before regular clubgoers during the coronavirus shutdown in the city and beyond.
Club Cobra in North Hollywood announced on Thursday that it would air a variety show live on the subscription platform OnlyFans. The show is in effect a streaming version of a weekend night of entertainment at a typical gay Latin nightclub in Los Angeles. Club Cobra is owned by the same team behind the well-known Club Chico in Montebello; the clubs’ 32 employees work equally at both venues.
Marty Sokol, co-owner and co-founder of Cobra and Chico, said the streaming shows would continue as long as the nightlife venues remained closed during the state’s efforts to stave off the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
“This week I’ve been so bowled over by my team; everyone is coming together, and they’re ready to be little rascals and put on a show,” Sokol said prior to the launch of the live stream. “It’s going to be a regular gay Latin television network for everyone, for our community, and that community extends beyond ‘gay’ and beyond ‘Latino.’”
During taping, Sokol said, no more than five or six people are in Club Cobra’s vast central room at any given moment, all practicing “social distancing” while performers vamp, vogue and dance for streaming viewers. OnlyFans is sometimes used by adult entertainment figures, but the Cobra live stream does not involve explicit behavior or imagery; rather, it is presenting what would happen on a weekend night at the club in normal times.
The first 100 people to sign up for the show get a discount, and thereafter, the streaming is available for $19.99 a month and could extend to more days, including streaming sessions of Club Chico’s popular Homo Homie Podcast. Viewers are able to virtually interact with the performers during the streaming. Proceeds go directly to the Team Cobra/Chico Relief Fund for Team Members, Sokol said.
“Gay nightlife is … really important,” the club co-owner continued. “It’s part of what makes us tick as a community, so we must preserve it. And when we figure out how to do that, the community will persevere.”
The first show streamed Friday night at 9 p.m., after “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on VH-1, which is a traditional motivator for social gatherings of gay people. It will move into other nights until the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
“What we’re offering is a party in a box,” Sokol said. “All you need to do is add the Fireball!”