Hansel is an aspiring photographer with a greater passion for the half-naked models he works with than for his art. Gretel is a Drag Superstar -- or will be, she’s convinced, the moment she’s discovered by ... anybody. One night, out in the tony gay-borhood The Woods, they stumble upon The Sugar Shack, a second-story nightclub they’re both delighted to discover, Gretel for the nightly drag shows of which she’d thrill to be a part, Hansel for the vast free buffet.
They meet the club's owner, local drag legend Sugar Rush, who offers Gretel a spot on stage vacated by a last-minute no-show. When she wows the crowd, Sugar offers Gretel a trial spot on the Sugar Shack’s lineup, and invites Hansel to drop in anytime, and to bring his appetite with him.
Gretel is a smash, and jumps at the eventual offer of a permanent gig. Hansel’s a hit, too, at Sugar’s private table upstairs in The Cage, where he lets Sugar flirt with him while he eats everything he can reach. He enjoys the attention almost as much as the free food, but he’s about as gay as they get, and can’t see himself falling for a dude who looks and smells like a chick, even if she is gorgeous. She’s also an inveterate chubby chaser, Gretel points out to him one day, and her apparent mission to fatten Hansel up seems to be proceeding apace.
Spending time with Sugar, Hansel's horizons expand along with his hips, but will he ever see her as more than just his “Sugar Daddy?”
“What are you doing?” Gretel asked. “You can’t just dive in and start eating.”
“Why not?” Hansel asked, licking at the spicy barbecue sauce he’d already smeared across his cheek.
“I mean, look at all this,” Gretel said vaguely. “This can’t possibly all be free.”
Hansel shrugged. He was hungry, here was food; nobody besides Gretel had made a move to stop him from eating it, and if it ended up costing, he’d figure something out. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” he said.
“You sure it’s not ‘Don’t eat like a gift horse while you’re still in the buffet line?’ Should we at least get a table? You’re getting macaroni and cheese all over yourself.”
“Cuz it’s delicious!” Hansel enthused. He was unaccustomed to making quite such a spectacle of himself eating in public, but everything looked so good and smelled so enticing, he couldn’t figure out how to get everything he wanted to taste onto his plate.
“Then let’s go sit and you can eat it,” Gretel said with a laugh. “Geeze, Andy must’ve really worked you out this afternoon.”
As good an excuse as any, Hansel decided, piling crab/cheese wontons and baked pork buns atop his teetering plate even as Gretel steered him across the room. In keeping with their luck of the evening, the perfect table awaited them. It was close to the bar, close to the food, with an unimpeded view of every angle of the stage, and they settled happily in, exchanging bug-eyed looks of incredulity. Where had this place been all of their lives?
And what kind of deadbeats had they been hanging around? For certainly people knew about this place; it was packed. People were drinking, people were eating, people were throwing money at the drag queens and at the bartenders and generally carrying on like kids on the greatest playground in the world. A cursory scan of the room revealed few of the trendy toothpick twink types to whom Hansel and Gretel tended to gravitate, but everybody else in town was present and accounted for: bearded big guys, dolled-up doyennes of a certain age, sporty dykes in ponytails and Latina bombshells in cha-cha heels. Onstage, a black drag queen in a lime green wig was lip-synching to a song in Tagalog that had half the room in stitches; behind the bar the big boys glistened with sweat, laughing and flirting, slinging drinks without pause and calling everybody “Baby.” Hansel plowed through the food on his plate like a hungry farm hand, and when Gretel took her place in line at the bar, he hit another section of the buffet table.
“You’re killing me,” Gretel said when she came back from the bar. She set a hot pink martini and a huge, frosty beer on the table and slid sideways into her seat. “Did you at least leave some scraps for these other people?”
In response, Hansel quaffed his martini and let out a smashed-saxophone-sounding belch.
“Nice,” Gretel said, rolling her eyes.
“I like to see a hungry man eat.” They looked up, Gretel over the rim of her huge beer, Hansel from deep within a grilled goat cheese sandwich, to the bedazzled stranger who had sidled up to their table. The new arrival presented neither as a feminine man nor as a masculine woman; rather, she was all drag queen, from her three wigs woven into one down to her strappy, snowshoe-sized silvery heels.
Gretel raised an eyebrow in sisterly appreciation and ventured a crack. “Yeah? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Looks like some of the boys in this joint tuck right in.”
“Oh, they’re big fellas,” said the stranger, her eyes riveted to Hansel, whose cheeks were chipmunked with cheese sandwich. “I didn’t hire a one of ‘em for his brains.”
Gretel’s other eyebrow joined the first high up under her synthetic hairline. “Is this your place?”
“Balcony to basement,” she said. Her eyes didn’t budge.
“We love it!” Gretel enthused.
“Glad to hear it,” the stranger said. “We’re pretty proud of it. Might not be much, but it’s home.”
“Not much?” Gretel mimicked. “It’s awesome!”
“Why thank you, Honey. All I did was buy the place and paint it pink. Take any old club, throw out all the boring parts to make room for the buffet table, and this is what you get.”
“The buffet table was a great idea!” Hansel avowed.
The stranger smiled at him. “Glad you approve.”
“Oh, he approves,” Gretel said. “You’ve got this kid’s number, for sure.”
“Well,” said the stranger, “I have what you might call an eye for talent.” She all but licked her chops regarding Hansel when she said this.
“Yeah, well, he’s an eater, our Hansel,” Gretel said. “We’re all real proud of him.”
“As you should be,” the drag queen said. She turned her attention to Gretel for the first time. “But I was talking about you,” she said, indicating Gretel’s general head-to-toe flawlessness with one of her painstakingly polished index fingers. “This look, Honey: it’s unbeatable. Where’d you get those legs?”
“They came with the shoes,” Gretel said. Dancing and hiking around The Woods on platform heels had done more for Gretel’s legs than a lifetime of leg presses could ever do; the stranger shared a knowing laugh.
“I’ll just bet they did.”