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Drag Race Star Shannel Accused of Stealing Hundreds During Show

Drag Race Star Shannel Accused of Stealing Hundreds During Show

Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Film Magic

In a viral video clip, the drag star is seen taking from a purse, but Shannel says it was part of the act.

A video on TikTok seems to show former RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Shannel taking money from a woman's purse in the middle of a Las Vegas drag brunch.

Posted Tuesday by Megan Gerber, the video has almost 5 million views and 500,000 likes on the platform.

Shannel is seen taking some cash from a purse before giving the purse back and walking away. Gerber said the pursue was hers and claimed around $700 was stolen.

"Social media is the best platform to try to get the word out," Gerber said in another TikTok video, detailing the situation further.

Gerber attended a drag brunch show at Mexican-themed bar and grill franchise Senor Frogs to celebrate her birthday with her friends and family. She said in the original video that the Drag Race star, whose real name is Bryan Watkins, grabbed "my purse and proceeded to open it up and take a wad of cash."

Gerber claimed Watkins, after stealing the money, called her out onstage, saying, "What's wrong with you, white girl in the tan dress?'' she reported. She accused him of stealing money in front of the audience, and he responded with "Bitch, please, I took a dollar," Gerber alleged.

Gerber and her party excused themselves midway through the performance before reporting the incident to the venue's general manager and the police. She said Watkins cursed at her, calling her "Karen" while she was leaving the show.

The Las Vegas police said in an email they were looking into Gerber's complaint, and a spokesperson said it "will be turned over to that bureau or detective to do a followup or investigation," NBC News reports.

Since the incident, Watkins has posted a video to Instagram titled "In My Words," apologizing to Gerber and explaining his side of the situation. "I want to apologize to the customer who did not have a good time," he started his apology. He then went on to say that taking the purse was a comedic bit with "no intention of any ill will is ever done with it."

"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," the 43-year-old continued, referring to a page of notes. The total amount of tips collected at the end and what others saw suggests that the amount Gerber claimed was not accurate, according to Watkins.

Watkins said Gerber and her companions were reimbursed for the $1,200 they spent on the show for and that Gerber was compensated with an additional $700. He added that Gerber rejected his offer to speak with her personally "to open up a professional dialogue to discuss her concerns of the incident."

He ended his comment on the situation by saying, "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, Voss Events, told NBC News in a statement that only $2 was taken from Gerber's purse. The company also said that it was later returned.

"We have taken appropriate actions to ensure this never happens again at any of our events and feel terrible this guest had her experience ruined by this unfortunate incident," a spokesperson said. They added that they've asked Gerber to delete the videos, telling NBC News that the videos are instigating hate toward the drag performers. However, Gerber has refused, instead asking for $7,000 to remove the posts.

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