Bryan Watkins, a former contestant on the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and current performer in Las Vegasis defending himself over a viral video clip that allegedly shows him stealing money from a woman’s purse.
The incident occurred at a Drag Brunch event in Vegas where Watkins performs under the identity of “Shannel,” TMZ reported. A TikTok clip showing the reality star reaching into a woman’s purse as part of a gag during the show has more than four million views as of Thursday, especially after the woman claimed Watkins pocketed her money without permission.
The publication says they spoke with Watkins and he claims he only took several dollars as a joke. But the alleged theft victim tells a different story.
Megan Gerber said she had over $1,000 in her bag since she was there celebrating her birthday and accused the performer of taking out $700. The video does not make it clear how much money was actually taken.
A video posted to TikTok by Megan Gerber shows former “Drag Race” contestant Shannel, whose real name is Bryan Watkins, removing cash from a purse while the audience looks on.
— Jay Valle (@OfficialJValle) August 18, 2022
Gerber shared details of what happened in a series of TikTok videos. Over the weekend, Gerber was at the Mexican-themed bar and grill franchise Señor Frogs, per NBC News. Gerber claims that after the incident, Watkins asked her from the stage why she looked so upset. Gerber publicly accused Watkins of stealing her money, to which Watkins allegedly replied, “B****, please, I took a dollar.”
“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 explains in one of the videos. She says she sought out the venue manager and later reported what happened to local authorities.
Watkins alleges that the venue manager paid Gerber $700 cash in a good faith payment plus refunded her cost of admission, per TMZ.
Las Vegas police confirmed in an email to NBC News that they had received Gerber’s larceny report. A spokesperson said the case “will be turned over to that bureau or detective to do a followup or investigation.”
Watkins posted an 11-minute Instagram video defending himself and further explaining the incident. The post, titled “In My Words,” includes the drag performer apologizing to Gerber and detailing how the whole thing was supposed to be a joke.
While many commenters expressed their support, they also agreed that touching Gerber’s purse was a huge mistake.
“It’s common sense not to go into anyone [sic] personal belongings wether [sic] it’s a joke or not. That simple. I love and support drag queens but definitely feel that they can get with things normal people can’t just because they’re a performer,” one follower shared.