LGBTQ

Black Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend for Felony Misdemeanor

You're most likely to catch Misdemeanor performing at Hamburger Mary's (pictured), Xbar, Triangle and Ophelia's.
Miles Chrisinger
You're most likely to catch Misdemeanor performing at Hamburger Mary's (pictured), Xbar, Triangle and Ophelia's.
If you go to a drag show hosted by Felony Misdemeanor (born Theariale St. Cyr Stallings), hang on tight to your boyfriend (or dad). The outrageous, hilarious, provocative stoner queen and unofficial Ivy Park spokesmodel is known for pushing audience members out of their comfort zone, whether it's pulling them up on stage for a lap dance or singling out the one cis-het man in the crowd to flirt with. The 47-year-old Misdemeanor has been seducing Denver audiences for almost twenty years, and has been doing drag for even longer.

She's the mother of one of the most recognizable drag families in Denver, which now has eight members, including herself (plus one who has passed away). When she's not on stage, Misdemeanor works for local nonprofits Black Pride Colorado and YouthSeen, which focus on providing services to queer Black and Brown people in Colorado. She is a champion of the Black queer community, specifically Black drag entertainers, and never misses an opportunity to give them a platform to perform. This Saturday, June 18, during Black Pride weekend, she will be bringing some of Colorado's best and brightest Black drag performers (plus a few special guests) to X Bar for her third annual Black Diamonds show.

Although she considers herself a Denver native after spending nearly two decades in the city, Misdemeanor is originally from El Paso. It was where she first started performing in drag. "One of my friends back in El Paso was the manager of a local gay bar. He was having his birthday party, and one of the drag performers for his party dropped out. He knew I liked Janet Jackson, and asked if he could dress me up and I could go ahead and do some Janet numbers," recalls Misdemeanor. "A friend of mine put me in drag, I borrowed her hair and clothes and makeup, and I went out there and performed Janet Jackson, Missy Elliott and Björk."

With the help of her drag mother, Diamond Briseño, Misdemeanor continued to develop her drag, and won the Miss Gay El Paso pageant in 2002. She moved to Denver with a few friends in December 2003. "I needed to get away from where I was at," she says. "There was nothing wrong with where I was at, but I just had bigger ideas."
Black Diamonds is a collaboration between Misdemeanor, X Bar and Black Pride Colorado.
Jeremiah Corder
Misdemeanor's unique name came from her love of rapper Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, as well as a warning sign at Circle K. "I was hanging out with some cousins, and we were at Circle K. They went in to go get some beer — or actually, it was Mad Dog and Zimas, that was the thing. I was waiting in the car, and I read the sign that said, 'It is a Felony/Misdemeanor to shoplift from this store.' And I was like, 'Oh, wow! That's my name!" she says. She also is quick to clarify that she does not actually have any felonies or misdemeanors on her record.

After she had been in Denver for a few years, Misdemeanor started to build what is now known as the "Misdemeanor Crew" or "House of Misdemeanor." 

"I didn't start adding family members until ten or fifteen years ago. It started out with just one, Minor Misdemeanor, and it was just her and I for a very long while. Then I had a third named Roxy, but she's passed away," Misdemeanor explains. "It wasn't until maybe within the last two to three years that I started adding way more people. The fourth one was LeeLee James, and that was maybe five years ago. Everyone else has been added within the last two years."

The current roster of Misdemeanors includes Felony, Minor Misdemeanor, LeeLee the Twirling Tech Goddess, Juiccy Misdemeanor, Miss Zarah Misdemeanor, Anne-Michelle Misdemeanor, Michelle B. Misdemeanor and Rias Jey Misdemeanor. The family of entertainers is known for high-energy dance numbers, mixing streetwear staples and high fashion, and their close bond in and out of drag. If you go to a show where one of the Misdemeanors is performing, you'll probably see at least two more house members cheering them on in the crowd.

For Misdemeanor, having a house where members love and support each other is the most important thing. She takes her role as the matriarch seriously, but never too seriously. "I'm mostly there to provide support. It's instantaneous support if you join the House of Misdemeanor, from myself and from their sisters," she says. "We're there to hype each other up and have each others' backs. If there are any issues, we're here to talk about it. We poke fun, and we have a lot of fun. I really envision family as your support system, no matter if they're chosen or blood. So I just try to be the mother. I'm quite nurturing."

She also does her best to avoid getting into any drama, of which there is plenty in the drag scene. "I call myself the Switzerland of the drag queens," Misdemeanor says. "I get along with everybody, I really do."
The name "Black Diamonds" is a reference to Janet Jackson's upcoming album of the same name.
Jeremiah Corder
Three of the Misdemeanors — Felony, Zarah and Juiccy — will be performing in the Black Diamonds showcase at X Bar. They'll be joined by Bootzy Edwards Collynz, Lisa Frank 666, Kendra D. Crase, RuPaul's Drag Race alumni Yvie Oddly (winner of Season 11 and currently competing on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars: All Winners) and Angeria Paris VanMichaels (a Season 14 finalist).

Misdemeanor produced the first Black Diamonds show in 2020 as a way to showcase the wide variety of Black drag entertainers that Colorado has to offer. Because of COVID, the show was streamed digitally, but Misdemeanor was still able to host a small watch party with live commentary at X Bar. "It was amazing," she recalls. "I hate digital drag, but that itself was very momentous, and I'll never forget it."

With so many talented Black drag entertainers in the Denver metro area, narrowing down a cast list can be difficult, which is why Misdemeanor decided to make it easy. "The cast for this year was quite easy for me to pick, because we are using all of the Black hosts that have their own shows at X Bar. We're going to use all people that are in-house, because one, it's easier, and two, it beats me having to pick and choose and then having people ask me, 'Well, why didn't you pick me?'"

The only exceptions are VanMichaels and Oddly, this year's headliners. Misdemeanor and Oddly, who is a Denver native, go way back. "I've known Yvie before Yvie was Yvie. She went by Avon Eve at the time. She was competing in a competition here called the Ultimate Queen Contest, and we were having the auditions. ... Yvie did her Yvie thing, and I immediately fell in love with it," Misdemeanor remembers. "The other judges didn't like it at all, and I thought they were crazy. Immediately after the show, I approached her and offered her a spot in one of my shows. So I gave her her first paid booking in Denver."

The two queens have remained close friends, with Misdemeanor even guest-starring in Oddly's "Watermelon Bubblegum" music video, which was filmed at X Bar.

When Westword spoke with Misdemeanor in 2020 before the first Black Diamonds show, Misdemeanor voiced frustration with how a few established Black drag queens were tokenized as "the faces of Black drag in Denver," and newer Black drag performers rarely got the opportunities they needed to gain performance experience. She says that's now no longer the standard.

"It's changed so much," Misdemeanor says. "There are so many Black entertainers running around town and taking up space. And granted, there's still more untapped energies out there, but from then to now, it is triple-fold how many Black entertainers are out here doing their thing. A lot of them have their own shows. It's really changed, and I couldn't be more happy."
Felony Misdemeanor has been a staple of the Denver drag scene for nearly twenty years.
Jeremiah Corder
But another issue that she brought up in 2020 hasn't changed, according to Misdemeanor. She maintains that Black drag entertainers have to work twice as hard for the applause and tips that white performers get easily, though she adds that entertainers of all races have to work harder these days, too. "I've also seen it happening with everyone now. More and more people want to be entertained, versus the walking around. So it's not just us, but we still have to work harder. We have to do hard choreography. For the most part, the audiences want a show," she explains. "I think it's because TV has put that on us. We always have to work harder, but for the most part, everyone has to work harder these days."

Saturday's Black Diamonds show will highlight Black excellence, but there's no specific theme beyond that; Misdemeanor always wants the artists she books to retain their creative freedom.

"When I have people in my shows, I don't take that away. They always ask me what theme it is, and I say, 'The theme is you. Please do you, because only you can do you, and you're the best at you.' I'll never take away anyone's creative output, because I don't like being told what to do."

The word "icon" may be so overused in the LGBTQ+ community that its meaning has become diluted. But Misdemeanor is — in the original sense — a true icon of Denver drag.

Felony Misdemeanor's Black Diamonds show, Saturday, June 18, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at X Bar. Tickets are $20.