28 January 2020

South Street, Philadelphia: After Hours!

Taking it down to South Street in Philadelphia had to be done, I was ready for all kinds of shenanigans to take place that night! The weather was bitterly cold but South Street had its nighttime game on fire! I was mad hungry, ready for some Philly cheese-steak goodness at one of South Street's eateries! Bob & Barbara's opened my eyes to a new kind of drag! P, let's get it!

I wasn't bothered with food in Philadelphia aside from the afternoon's find at Nick's Grille & Bar in the Old City, that all changed when I found Ishkabibble's on South Street. I had my sights set on one of their cheese-steaks ever since I put together a paid USA travel blog during 2014. Ordering one Philly chicken cheese-steak needed to happen, doing just that I lived for the pint-sized kitchen facing seating that gave me full views of the realness that went on around me. My sandwich was freshly prepared in front of me, I kindly moved up one seat to allow three fabulous ladies to sit together. Taking in the South Street during my Iskhabibble's visit gave me life! Choosing the original venue at 337 South Street allowed me to see how things went down up close and personal. I tucked into my sandwich, the flavours were immense, the extra cheese had me in food heaven again! The toasted bun was crunchy, so delicious!

Taking my time at Ishkabibble's was necessary, my Philly chicken cheese-steak was huge and I wasn't about to waste any of it! If the food wasn't enough, the clientele made me crease with laughter because they were straight up Philly! One lady had ordered three subs for takeaway, she openly ran her mouth about the freezing temperature that the shop was! The three ladies were on their way to the 'Trap Karaoke' event that was taking place across the road were dressed to kill, their hair and nails were on prey! For me it wasn't just about the food, I was soaking up every piece of realness! What in the hell was 'Trap Karaoke' anyway? I would be finding out eventually, that nugget of ratchetness needed to be uncovered! Needless to say, I devoured my Philly chicken cheese-steak but I couldn't finish all of it because it was absolutely huge! Loving Iskhabibble's, it had been well worth the wait since those 2014 days of Philly blog research. Philadelphia was giving me those food feelings!

Walking back into the cold, I was in search of Bob & Barbara's Lounge to see Lisa Lisa's weekly Thursday night drag extravaganza. I was early, unknowingly walking in the wrong direction I was able to see South Street from a very quieter side. Even though those establishments were closed it was still interesting to see the variety that South Street served on a daily basis. I saw shop windows that featured mannequins who were wearing next to nothing, serving all kinds of risqué lingerie and the rest. Having already eaten at Ishkabibble's a little bit before my bitterly cold walk, I didn't pay any mind to the other restaurants. South Street served difference, I had been drawn to this much talked about street after one of the former Rupaul's Drag Race queens responded to my tweet. Finding Bob & Barbara's was the only thing that I wanted to do, the cold was well below zero! Pulling myself together I turned around without any haste!

Getting back into the vibe of South Street during that freezing Philadelphia night, South Street still served something vibrant without things going over the top. Getting closer to Bob & Barbara's the shops along South Street ranged from tobacco shops to vintage antique stores, the antique store front window transported me to another world! My last night out had been in Jackson Heights, Queens where things went down a Latino path, I was walking along a very different street that served something totally different! Oh, I was ready to get my drink on but that had to wait, consulting with my Apple Maps on my iPhone, I only had to walk for a few more moments. My day in Philadelphia had been full-bodied, I had seen so much! No, 2012 me would never venture down to South Street let alone stay overnight! South Street's Thursday night vibe from the outside was quiet, I could sense that what would greet me down the street would be another story entirely. I needed a drink!

Stepping foot into Bob & Barbara's transported me into a film set, giving me all the feelings of a premium dive bar! I had asked Philadelphia native, Willam Belli for advice for things to do at night in the city. William suggested that I check out the drag show at Bob & Barbara's. Ordering a hot toddy needed to happen, giving me life and the assurance that I wasn't going to freeze, I allowed myself to enjoy the environment. The venue gradually became busier and the legendary Lisa Lisa could be seen walking around the bar, greeting patrons and making slick jokes. I couldn't wait for the show to begin, something told me the queens performing would challenge my thoughts about types of drag in the best way! Getting myself another couple drinks from the bar, sure the bar filled up before the show started. I wasn't bothered about getting a good seat, it was all about snatching views of the queens to tip them well, B!

'All I Want For Christmas' was served with a smattering of 'Toni Braxton' from another performer. The first two performers slayed the venue with their nerve and uniqueness, I lived for those early performances! Serving some Christmas inspired 'Ariana Grande' with all her Christmas finery, one of the performers with blonde locks and a Mrs Christmas suit knew what to do, she brought the house down! An ebony beauty graced the stage with a sultry rendition of a song that I couldn't recall, I tipped her favourably and even got a photo taken with her! The performer in the photo above didn't have to stand, she slayed the her number with ferocity. It was only necessary to have one of the queens perform a bit of 'Liza Minelli!' I got my drink on, enjoying several double vodka cranberry, I was having the time of my life, I got my life! The night was so good and the performers opened my eyes to drag queens who served it big time, serving it with something special! Philadelphia done right!

Send Me South!

Joseph Harrison

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