Drag Queens Raise Holy Hell in Jerusalem’s Only Gay Bar

Israeli drag queen Yossale gets dressed at the family home in Jerusalem before performing at the "Video" bar outside the Old City

In conservative Jerusalem, the last thing you might expect to find in the cramped back of a bar is a clutch of amateur drag queens railing against political and religious taboos.

But there they are, balancing on needle-like high heels and heavily made up, spouting unholy views in the holiest of cities, a place revered by three of the world’s major religions.

Anything goes with “Allah Nash”, a group whose name plays upon the Hebrew for cross-dressing and the Arabic for God.

Fair game abounds, from laughing at the Israeli army and the Palestinians, mocking Jewish prayers and the sexual practices of the ultra-Orthodox, even impersonating Jewish American gay icon Barbra Streisand but with a yellow star pinned on her dress, recalling the evils of Nazism.

Yossale is our hostess for the evening. The young man in blonde wig, short sparkly dress and legs that go on forever singles out a member of the audience.

“He’s cute enough to be introduced to the rabbi!”

The “Video” is now the only gay bar in town, just a few hundred metres (yards) from the walls of the Old City that shelter Christianity’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Islam’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and Judaism’s Western Wall.

Some 30 people, both local and just passing through, are in the audience this night for the musical show that Allah Nash has put on for two years now.

The regularity of their performances depends on both availability and motivation of the artists in a city where religious and social inhibitions are widespread.