Bryan Watkins, a former reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant and current Las Vegas cast member, is defending himself over a viral video clip that allegedly shows him stealing money from a woman’s purse.
The incident happened at a drag brunch event in Vegas, where Watkins is performing 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 been viewed more than four million times on Thursday, particularly after the woman claimed Watkins pocketed her money without permission .
The publication says they spoke to Watkins and he claims he took several dollars just for fun. But the alleged thief victim tells a different story.
Megan Gerber said she had over $1,000 in her pocket since celebrating her birthday there and accused the performer of taking $700 with her. The video does not show how much money was actually stolen.
A video posted to TikTok by Megan Gerber shows former Drag Race contestant Shannel, whose real name is Bryan Watkins, taking 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 on the Mexican bar and grill franchise Señor Frogs, according to NBC News. Gerber claims that Watkins asked her from the stage after the incident why she looked so upset. Gerber publicly accused Watkins of stealing her money, to which Watkins reportedly replied, “B**** please I took a dollar.”
“There were tables next to us where he took the wad of bills from my wallet and nobody told him to go in my purse,” Gerber explains in one of the videos. She says she reached out to the venue manager and later reported what happened to local authorities.
Watkins alleges that the venue manager paid Gerber $700 in cash in good faith and reimbursed her admission costs via TMZ.
Las Vegas police confirmed in an email to NBC News that they had received Gerber’s theft report. A spokesman said the case would be “handed over to that office or detective for a follow-up or investigation.”
Watkins posted an 11-minute Instagram video defending himself and further explaining the incident. The post, titled “In My Words,” features the drag performer apologizing to Gerber and detailing how the whole thing was meant to be a joke.
While many commenters expressed support, they also agreed that touching Gerber’s purse was a huge mistake.
“It’s common sense not to respond to anyone [sic] personal items or [sic] it’s a joke or not. So easy. I love and support drag queens but definitely feel like they can handle things that normal people can’t just because they’re a performer,” shared one follower.