|F. Charles "Chuck" Knipp|
Chuck Knipp, a white male comedian, performs in blackface as Shirley Q. Liquor in New Orleans
|Occupation||actor, comedian, Nurse, Minister.|
|Shirley Q. Liquor|
Chuck Knipp (born 1961) is an American and Canadian (dual citizenship) drag queen and comedian best known for his alter egos, the characters 'Shirley Q. Liquor' and 'Betty Butterfield.' Videos feature Butterfield relating her struggle to find a religion and/or church where she feels at home.
Knipp is a 1979 graduate of West Orange-Stark High School in Orange, Texas, where he served as drum major of the high school band.
- Entertainer RuPaul has long been a fan and supporter of Knipp. "Critics who think that Shirley Q. Liquor is offensive are idiots. Listen, I've been discriminated against by everybody in the world: gay people, black people, whatever. I know discrimination, I know racism, I know it very intimately. She's not racist, and if she were, she wouldn't be on my new CD." In her blog, RuPaul adds: "I am very sensitive to issues of racism, sexism and discrimination. I am a gay black man, who started my career as a professional transvestite in Georgia, twenty years ago."
- Boston Phoenix journalist Dan Kennedy awarded Boston government official Jerome Smith the dubious Muzzle Award for his part in leading to the cancellation of Knipp's scheduled 2004 Boston performance.
- Writer David Holthouse, anti-racist investigator for the "Intelligence Report" from the Southern Poverty Law Center, stated "Knipp is in no way a white supremacist" and that Knipp "invites the audience to sympathize with a single Black mother." An in-depth article was printed in the June, 2007 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine.
- The New York Blade criticized GLAAD for condemning Knipp, stating, "We commend GLAAD for condemning racism, but we question whether the organization’s goal is best attained by joining this particular fight."
- John Strausbaugh, author of Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture, explores Liquor's act in his book.
- Radio host Michael Berry plays frequent clips, and often live call ins. She introduces his show in her best Southern Louisiana drawl. Some of her recent parodies include the Democratic National Convention and weekend updates in Houston.
Knipp concedes that his performances as Shirley can make people uncomfortable. Knipp has said his show is about "lancing the boil of institutionalized racism" and that "treating African Americans as if they have a disease is the real racism" because black people are "more than intelligent enough to discern the nuance" of his performances. He's also said that "many people thought that Harriet Beecher-Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was and still is perceived as racist, despite being the probable artistic genesis of emotional support against slavery in the 19th century."
There have been a number of articles in media that have taken issue with Knipp and the character.
- To Knipp's declaration that Liquor "was created in celebration of, not to downgrade, black women," Jasmyne Cannick countered in her blog: "...it is not possible for Charles Knipp, a white man, to help heal years of mistreatment and racism at the hands of his people by putting on a wig, speaking Ebonics, and in blackface...There is nothing remotely uplifting about Knipp’s act and I wish people would stop defending his character with the tired argument that he’s trying to heal the nation. The only thing Knipp is trying to heal is the hole in his pocket by filling it with all of the money he makes off of degrading Black people."
- BET.com writer Jennifer Daniels wrote: "I have [no] intention of slinking off into some corner while some pseudo-bigot paints his face black and gets rich off spewing hurtful and embarrassing stereotypes about Black women...Knipp is free to celebrate Black women his way. That is certainly his right. But I have a right to publicly critique said celebration and encourage others not to participate." Daniels offered Knipp an interview with BET to set the record straight about his Shirley Q. Liquor character, but Knipp declined to participate, preferring an in-depth article by Rolling Stone Magazine.
- RuPaul. "These Folks Is Just Plain Ignunt!" (blog entry) 3 November 2002
- Kennedy, Dan. "The sixth annual Muzzle Awards", The Boston Phoenix, 10 July 2003
- GLAAD’s New Act, "The New York Blade Online", 23 February 2007
- "Shirley Q. Liquor Does Southern Decadence", Southern Decadence
- Cannick, Jasmyne. "Shirley Q. Liquor Update: A Response to the Blade Editorial "GLAAD's New Act" (blog entry), 23 February 2007
- Daniels, Jennifer. "The Racist Sting of Shirley Q.", Black Entertainment Television, 22 January 2007