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Hershae Bar 

This stripper-turned-drag-queen has a sweet stage presence.

Strike a pose: Female impersonator Hershae - Chocolatae delivers the sweet stuff.
  • Strike a pose: Female impersonator Hershae Chocolatae delivers the sweet stuff.
WED 5/11

Hershae Chocolatae describes herself as a piping-hot mug of cocoa. "Easy on the foam," she advises. "Have a little sip. It will go right to your dome."

Quirky quotes are the norm from the Toledo-based stripper-turned-drag queen. In the summer of 1999, she was frequently partying at a Bowling Green bar, where Nadirah -- an ex-stripper herself -- was headlining the club's Tuesday-night drag shows. One night, the veteran illusionist coaxed Chocolatae onto the stage. "I said no, she said yes, and the club owner said, 'Let's see what you got.' The next thing I know, I'm performing Toni Braxton," recalls Chocolatae. "When I stepped on the stage, the roar of the crowd was so overwhelming and fulfilling, I instantly became addicted."

Chocolatae's repertoire is now peppered with impersonations of Tina Turner, RuPaul, and American Idol's Fantasia Barrino. And her act has been booked at bars and beauty pageants from Canada to Texas. "My plan is to become an old, haggard queen of 60, 70 years of age, who still does shows," she says. Show times are midnight and 1 a.m. Wednesday at Club Decó, 11213 Detroit Avenue. Admission is $3. Call 216-221-8576 for more info. -- Cris Glaser

Stage One
Thespians get their monologue on at weekly gathering.

MON 5/9

At Connie Blair's weekly Monologue Party, she has only one request: Don't put her to sleep. Every Monday night, Blair calls on actors, poets, and storytellers to perform original monologues or scenes from well-known plays. Afterward, the audience discusses them. "Sometimes, people don't want a critique," says Blair. "So they just sit and watch to get up the courage for the next week." And if you're feeling a little stage fright, don't worry: Blair always has someone available to read your work aloud. If you choose to do it yourself, keep in mind that your stage time is limited to five minutes. "We don't want you to hog up the whole evening," says Blair. "But if you go over a little bit, we don't care. Just don't bore me for 10 minutes." It happens from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Cleveland Alternative Theatre, 11625 Euclid Avenue. It's free; call 216-241-1494. -- Cris Glaser

Solid Rock
Hayes Carll finally gets around to album No. 2.

FRI 5/6

Texas-bred singer-songwriter Hayes Carll has a ready explanation for why it took nearly three years to get his second album, Little Rock, released. "I didn't have a producer, I didn't have a record deal, and I was broke," he explains. Drawing comparisons to Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, and other alt-country legends, the 29-year-old Carll sings in a smoky drawl that skillfully matches his tales of assorted losers and lovers. "I've gotten to the point where I can write a song about something that's happened to me," he says. "I'm not trying to write another 'Girl From the North Country' or 'Pancho and Lefty' anymore." Carll is at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Road) at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $20; call 216-383-1124. -- Michael Gallucci

The Big Chill

5/6-5/7

If Northern Exposure's taught us anything, it's that remote villages existing in sub-zero climates harbor a bushel of quirky folks. In the slight but charming foreign comedy Vodka Lemon, dirt-poor Armenian townspeople barter TVs, wait for money from France, and look for love at the local cemetery. It's at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11131 East Boulevard) at 8 p.m. Friday and 5:45 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $8; call 216-421-7450. -- Michael Gallucci

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