Katherine Jania: A Night Out with the Queen


Photography and Text by Katherine Jania



It smells of spirits and cigarettes with mild undertones of eclectic youth looking to start their weekend a day early. The bright red and blue lights paint over the Philadelphia regulars that decorate the bar, looking to quench their thirst with Jim Bean and companionship. A glue of dried beer and spilled cocktails coats the floor. No one cares. All eyes are drawn to the front of the establishment where Miss Lisa struts in her transparent top. One more shot glass of amber whiskey and PBR is handed off to a patron who staggers into the crowd.


Bob and Barbara’s Lounge, the history-soaked saloon, is a Philadelphia classic that opened its doors 46 years ago. The establishment is tucked away on South Street, its modest exterior warding off aimless tourists. On Thursday nights a teeming crowd of regulars, current or former, fill the bar and spill onto the adjacent street. Outside, stumbling friends and strangers pass off cigarettes while inside patrons shoot back the highly popular “Special”—a shot of Jim Bean with PBR. The gathered crowd presses together in the smoky haze enjoying Philadelphia’s most recognized drag show. The best impersonators take the stage on Thursday’s ‘Drag Queen Night’ to showcase their talents. The show, like the bar, is a staple in Philadelphia.


“This goes out to all you single ladies,” the ornate drag queen purrs winking to the audience. Audience members wave dollar bills like white flags of defeat, surrendering to their vices as the queen soulfully begins her ballad.

Bob and Barbars Lounge, Philadelphia

Photography and Text by Katherine Jania, Copyright 2015
About The Author: About The Author: Katherine Jania is a senior enrolled in the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. Class of 2016. To read more articles by Katherine Jania, go to the search bar at the bottom of the page, type in author’s name: click the search icon.

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