ATLANTIC CITY — Sandy Beach sauntered across the stage at Bourre in a sparkling dress and wig singing the Four Seasons’ “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” when she was, for a split second, interrupted by a water droplet falling from the ceiling.
“They still haven’t fixed this leak,” the 65-year-old drag queen joked after her performance as she tucked a dollar bill into her top at the recently opened Cajun eatery’s monthly drag brunch.
Sandy Beach (Robert) is no stranger to the venue.
CAPE MAY — A local ice cream shop that had its Pride Month decorations stolen and vandalized…
She performed at Bourre throughout the 1970s when it was called the Saratoga, a popular gay bar that was one of dozens that lined New York and Kentucky avenues. She lived, for a time, in a boarding house on the Boardwalk where Ripley’s Believe it or Not now stands, with a group of other queens.
But by the end of the following decade, the strip had been bought and demolished by developers and subsequently left vacant, and the AIDS crisis put a strain on the gay community in Atlantic City, historians say. Throughout the 2000s, all that was left of the resort’s once bustling drag community were a few bars: Studio Six, which closed in 2007, and Resorts Casino Hotel’s ProBar.
Over the past few years, though, there’s been somewhat of a resurgence in Atlantic City, following the popularity of the cable-TV competition “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and societal changes. A slew of glittery, lighthearted casino productions and more theatrical cabaret shows have been popping up, and to some, it’s clear the resort’s drag culture has evolved.