NORTHALSTED — Bulls basketball legend Dennis Rodman went to a Chicago drag show Tuesday night and tipped a queen a $100 bill.
Drag performer Ari Gato, who co-hosts the Roscoe’s Drag Race competition every Tuesday with Kara Mel D’Ville, said the former Bulls player was eating dinner at Roscoe’s Tavern, 3356 N. Halsted St., when the drag performers arrived about 9 p.m. to prepare for the show.
“He wanted to stick around to see the performers,” Gato said. “For context, we start the show at 11 p.m. He waited at least two hours just to watch the performers and stayed for a little more than half the show.”
Gato and D’Ville started the show with their usual banter, which includes a bit where Gato pretends it’s her birthday so everyone tips extra, Gato said.
“Yes, I came up with the bit. No, I have no shame,” Gato said.
Gato and D’Ville announced over the mic that Rodman was in the building, and he said he’d tip Gato $100 for her birthday, Gato said.
“I was totally joking and we laughed it off, but seconds later he was at the front of the stage handing me a $100 bill,” Gato said, who later tweeted the interaction.
Gato thanked Rodman for the tip and shared how Rodman’s unique style helped pave the way for Gato to feel accepted by her family, she said.
“My parents loved you, and seeing you be authentically you and expressing yourself the way you did back in the day made them look at me and think my eccentricity could still be normal and that I could still be successful in life,” Gato said she told Rodman.
Rodman took the mic “without hesitation” and thanked the community for having him that night, Gato said.
“He said something along the lines of, ‘I just want to say I love this community and y’all have to make sure y’all stick together and take care of each other,'” Gato said. “And that was it. We made jokes and references to him all night from the stage.”
Rodman watched most of the show and took photos with a lot of its performers, Gato said.
“I was so happy to see him out there and showing his support for the community, especially right now with all the legislation regarding drag in the world right now,” Gato said. “It felt so good to have a very vocal ally show up for the community, especially as a Black person.”
Rodman, a five-times NBA champion, played with the Chicago Bulls 1995-1998. He made history in the 1996 NBA Finals when he grabbed 11 offensive rebounds at the United Center, tying a NBA Finals record.
Rodman also made a name for himself as a fashion icon, donning psychedelic-colored hairdos styled by Jojo Baby, a Chicago nightlife legend who recently died, and donning countless tattoos and face piercings.
He has been well-known for defying gender norms with his style and dressing in drag himself. He told GQ in a 2021 interview that going to gay clubs and drag shows helped him throughout his NBA career because it encouraged him to freely express himself.
Drag queens in Houston, where Rodman’s ticket sales company is based, responded to Ari Gato’s tweet with photos of the basketball star attending drag shows in their city. His visits to the shows were covered by the Houston Chronicle.
“Dennis loves the girls,” wrote drag queen Blackberri. “He STAYS at the drag shows in Houston.”
Another Houston-based performer said “Dennis does LOVE to take care of the dolls.”
Gato’s photos of Rodman at Tuesday’s show had hundreds of “likes” and several comments praising him.
“He really made everyone’s night,” Gato said.
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