Shannel has responded to accusations that she stole “hundreds of dollars” from a customer’s purse during a recent drag brunch in Las Vegas.

Earlier this week, Megan Gerber went viral on TikTok after posting a video showing the RuPaul’s Drag Race alum, whose real name is Bryan Watkins, removing cash from her purse in front of the audience. 

The incident occurred Saturday (13 August) at the Mexican-themed bar and grill franchise Señor Frogs.

Gerber, who claims Shannel stole $700, captioned the video: “Brian [Watkins] STEALING a wad of cash from my purse. You can see I say “I had $100’s in there””. 

In a series of videos posted to TikTok, Gerber said she approached Shannel and accused her of stealing hundreds of dollars, to which the star allegedly responded: “Bitch please, I took a dollar.” 

“There were tables next to us that saw him take the wad of cash out of my wallet, and nobody told him he could go into my purse,” explained Gerber, who filed a report with the police and the venue’s manager. 

Shannel, best known as a contestant on the first seasons of Drag Race and Drag Race All Stars, broke her silence on the incident in an 11-minute video on Instagram titled, “In My Words”. 

“As a host of shows, my goal always is to make people happy. I want you to come to the show and I want you to have a good time. I want you to celebrate, whether it’s getting married, whether it’s your birthday, whatever’s going on,” started Shannel.

“First and foremost, I want to apologise for the fact that this customer did not have a good time. I actually did not know it was her birthday. I wish I had, but I did not know that. That in itself is unfortunate, that she did not have a good or great birthday experience at all.” 

Describing the incident as a “whirlwind of emotions” for Shannel, who said she’s not accustomed to backlash on social media, the star detailed how there are “comedic bits” that often occur in drag shows such as “the bit with the purse”. 

@meggymomma #dragbrunch #vegas #seniorfrogs #theft #cabtgetmoneyback ♬ original sound – Meggy Momma

“It’s happened for years in shows all over, where queens will grab a purse and run away with it,” she explained. 

“No intention of any ill is ever done with it, but there are just things and there are elements that happen in a show like that. Obviously with this specific guest, this bit did not go over well at all.”

‘Reviewing’ what happened in the performance, Shannel said she picked up Gerber’s purse and danced around with it for “about 20 to 30 seconds” and only removed a “couple of dollars.”

“I added it to the wad of singles that actually were already in my hand from having performed around the rest of the room. I then placed the purse back in front of her on the table.” 

Following her number, Shannel noticed that Gerber “seemed upset” and tried to resolve the situation. 

“I thought I heard her say, ‘You took all the money out of my purpose,’ and I was very upset with the interpretation of what was meant to be a comedic silly moment because I felt like my honesty was in question,” said Shannel, “when I knew I’d only taken a couple dollars out of the purse.”

Taking ownership for her “rude comments” towards Gerber, Shannel admitted that she didn’t “handle” her emotions well at the time. In her attempt to make amends, Shannel “threw” a $20 bill from the stage in her direction.

After the brunch came to an end, Gerber claimed to a manager that Shannel had actually taken $1300 dollars, “which I definitely did not do”. 

“Later that afternoon we did receive an email from her lawyer who said they wanted a total of $6241 and 15 cents, which included a full refund of the tickets as well as $5000 in damages,” continued Shannel.

“In the email, they reduced the amount taken from her purse to $700 to $800 and the additional quote unquote “damages” included a cabana they reserved as the Aria Hotel.”

Shannel then revealed: “Management reviewed the footage and the statements from the customers sitting next to her party who again corroborated that it was not a large amount of money taken from her.

“Lastly, management collects and counts our tips at the end of the show and the total amount of my tips was not even close to the $700 she claimed I stole from her.” 


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A post shared by Bryan Watkins (@theofficialshannel)

Gerber was offered a personal apology from Shannel, a full refund for her nine tickets – worth over $1200 – and “out of good faith for how the situation was handled,” an additional $700. She declined their offer. 

“In addition to the nearly $2000 that now she had been offered, I agreed to speak with her personally to open up a professional dialogue to discuss her concerns about the incident,” said Shannel, “so that I can personally do better in the future because obviously I would never want a situation like this to occur again.”

Shannel again disputed her claims but expressed remorse over ruining her “birthday experience. Never ever my intention and I feel horrible for that. For these reasons, I really am sorry and I refrain from doing this type of a bit in the show again.”

Towards the end of her video, Shannel revealed that she’s been inundated with “homophobic” comments on social media, some of which include death threats, “all for something that was meant to be a laugh.” 

“Strangers have been given the license to harass, bully and threaten me, my coworkers, my friends, my family. People are calling our office to scream “faggot” at our reception in NYC. Many of our performers are even fearful about returning to their work schedules this week.” 

“I make mistakes. I own up to that. It’s unfortunate the situation happened. It was meant to be silly. I picked up a purse and picked up a couple of dollars out of it to be silly,” Shannel concluded. 

Fans and fellow Drag Race stars flooded her comments with support including season 12 alum Brita, who wrote: “Sending you so much love. I’m sorry you have to go through this with so much negativity. We live, we learn, we grow.”

Drag Race Thailand star Genie highlighted how “most fans” are aware that the incident was “just a comedic bit”.

“It happens, and we all get that,” said the star. “Good on you for apologizing and doing what you can. Those who are getting angry most likely just haven’t had the chance to attend many live drag shows.”

Due to the hate being directed towards their LGBTQ+ staff, Señor Frogs asked Gerber to take down her TikTok videos. Again, Gerber declined and insisted on “$7,000 in compensation to remove the posts.”