Shirley Q. Liquor is  featured in this weeks Rolling Stone! GUHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL! That’s gonna create some controversy!

Wealthy white people are starting to hire me for private parties, where I play the raisin in a bowl of oatmeal. From the way they interact with me, I can see that my being there as Shirley makes them feel it’s acceptable to openly mock black people in a way they otherwise would not, and that does cause me to have second thoughts. If what I’m doing is truly hurtful, then I need to stop.”—-Charles Knipp a.k.a. Shirley Q. Liquor

Charles Knipp is a white man who performs what many site as racially offensive material in drag and blackface. He describes his character Shirley Q. Liquor as an “inarticulate black welfare mother with 19 children.” While in blackface as Liquor, Knipp speaks in Ebonics and makes comments like “axe your mamma how she durrin” and misuses words like “ignunt.”

Knipp mocks the Black American holiday Kwanzaa and uses black faces to make fun of stereotypical Black names in a music video entitled, “Who Is My Baby’s Daddy.” Knipp, who is gay, is a minister and a registered nurse, with a extensive background in emergency, intensive care and psychiatric nursing.

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.”

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.”

Knipp’s act has emerged from the dive bars and semi-underground gay clubs in the South, and he has he rapidly developed a second-tier celebrity cachet. Shirley Q. routines are now popular not only at burlesque drag revues but also at frat parties, and house-music DJs from Atlanta to San Francisco mix Shirley Q. samples into their late-night sets. The cast members of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy repeatedly dropped Shirley Q.’s catchphrase greeting, “How you durrin?” into the show, and they hired Knipp to perform at their wrap party last June.

There are legions of fans – and legions of protesters out there.

The character, Shirley Q. Liquor, is a welfare mother with nineteen kids who guzzles malt liquor, drives a Caddy and says in an “ignunt” Gulf Coast black dialect, “I’m gonna burn me up some chitlins and put some ketchup on there and aks Jesus to forgive my sins.” Shirley also shops at “Kmark,” eats “Egg McMuffmans,” visits her “gynechiatrist” and just loves “homosexicals.”

“She’s a lady who doesn’t give a damn,” Knipp says. “She just raises her kids and watches her stories and hangs out with her best friend, Watusi.” -“Baby, we was extremely povertied this week,” Shirley Q. announces. “My check had not came on time. Oooh, we was stretchin’ it, honey. I aks them to keep my power on. I said, ‘A woman have got to have some fans runnin’ down here in this heat.’ “

While Shirley is coarse and boisterous, Knipp when he’s playing himself is delicately mannered and reluctant to reflect upon the implications of Shirley’s rising popularity or the corresponding uproar.

“Gosh, you know, if I have to explain to people what my show is about at its deepest levels, it kind of takes the fun out of it,” he says. “I do see that Shirley Q. Liquor unleashes a lot of important emotions and issues around race, but I’ll be damned if I can get a grasp on it. I wish God would clue me in on where I am supposed to go with her.”

Knipp routinely sells out small venues in the South, and Shirley Q. is a huge draw at Southern Decadence, the annual “Gay Mardi Gras” bacchanalia in New Orleans. “My core audience is gay men, their moms and rednecks,” he says.

He is paid between $4,000 and $7,000 per gig, depending on how far he must travel from Lexington, Kentucky, where he moved after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his beach front apartment in Mississippi. Knipp’s cat Rebel miraculously survived.

“There are so many pent-up things that black people want to say to white people and vice versa, but we’re all scared to death of offending each other,” he says. “I think God’s plan for me is to get right in the middle of all the tension and just make them laugh and say, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve thought that, but nobody’s ever said it out loud.’ There’s gotta be some healing that comes from that. And I truly think that’s why God put me here: to be a healer.”