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Watch: 'Drag Race' Contestant Shannel Denies Stealing $700 from Audience Member

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday August 21, 2022
Originally published on August 18, 2022

Shannel  (Source:World of Wonder)

In a viral TikTok video, "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant Shannel is accused slipping $700 from an audience member's purse during a drag brunch in Las Vegas. But is that really what the video shows? Shannel says otherwise.

As reported by NBC News, a video posted by Megan Gerber shows Shannel removing money from her purse all in good fun as part of the show. But there is a debate brewing between Gerber and Shannel about whether it was $700 in cash.

The video has gained over $4 million views, with some calling foul while others debating what the video actually shows.

The incident took place at the Mexican-themed bar and grill franchise Señor Frogs. After Gerber allegedly told Shannel, real name Bryan Watkins, about the lost money, happened, Watkins responded: "B—-, please, I took a dollar," Gerber alleged.

"There were tables next to us that saw him take the wad of cash out of my wallet, and nobody told him he could go into my purse," Gerber said in one of her videos.

Gerber claims that she excused herself from the performance and told the general manager, and then she reported the incident to the police. Las Vegas police confirmed that they received the report and are waiting to turn the case over to a detective.

In response to the ordeal, Watkins posted an 11-minute video to Instagram titled "In My Words," apologizing for the incident but maintaining his innocence.

"During my performance, I did pick up her purse, and I danced around with it for about 20 to 30 seconds or so. I opened it up. I took a couple of dollars out of it. I added it to the wad of singles that actually were already in my hand from having performed around the room," Watkins said.

He ended with, "No, I did not steal $700 from her purse. Yes, I inappropriately picked up her purse, and I made comments to her that were in poor taste. Yes, I ruined her birthday experience, and I apologize for that. It was never my intention, and I feel horrible for that. So for these reasons, I really am sorry and refrain from ever doing a bit like this in my show again."

The event-planning company behind the "Drag Brunch" show maintains that only $2 was removed from Gerber's purse. However, they offered Gerber and friends a refund of $1200 and an additional $700 for the trouble, while maintaining Watkins' innocence.

A spokesperson for the company said that they hope Gerber will take the video down as it is causing anti-gay blowback and threats against Watkins and other drag performers. But Gerber declined and "insisted on $7,000 in compensation to remove the posts," NBC News reports.