Dayton divine TV diva Ms. Demure

S ince the dawn of cable television, public access stations have given local talk show wannabes a free forum to strut their stuff. With the internet explosion of services like YouTube and Vimeo, stardom has come easier, no matter the degree of talent. One Dayton resident, while finding fame online, has remained true to their […]

DATV’s longest-running LGBTQ
public access show


Ms. Demure’s variety show format includes everything from sketches and interviews,
to singing and baking.

By Tim Smith

Since the dawn of cable television, public access stations have given local talk show wannabes a free forum to strut their stuff. With the internet explosion of services like YouTube and Vimeo, stardom has come easier, no matter the degree of talent. One Dayton resident, while finding fame online, has remained true to their hometown roots.

Ms. Demure is the host of Harper’s Bazarroworld, which is the oldest GLBT public access variety talk show in the United States. It can be seen every Saturday evening on Dayton Access Television (DATV). Ms. Demure describes the show as sort of a cross between The Carol Burnett Show and Merv Griffin’s legendary daytime talkfest.

“It’s a combo concept,” she says. “My father and I, the way we bonded when I was growing up, every Friday night we’d watch the late, late show with the classic movies. Then I watched the variety shows that were on TV all the time, like Carol Burnett. That was my big influence. I’m just doing what I love and what I loved watching when I was growing up.”

Harper’s Bazarroworld Presents The Ms. Demure Show officially launched in 2001. According to Ms. Demure, the concept was ahead of its time.

“Public access TV is the original social media,” she says. “It was crazy when I first came down here and it was a bit of a shock. I saw an ad when it was still Time Warner Cable, offering public access TV spots. I went to school for broadcasting and I thought I’d give it a try. It was a bit off-putting at first, a show starring a drag performer. I hadn’t seen anything like that since the early 90’s with RuPaul, and most people around here hadn’t seen anything like this before. When we broadcast that first show, it got lots and lots of airplay and people began requesting it and we’ve gone on since then.”

The variety show concept blends hometown spirit with musical entertainment. The goal is to include something for everyone.

“I’ve interviewed a lot of performers from RuPaul’s Drag Race, to Richard Pryor, Jr., and a lot of local and state politicians,” she says. “I’ve also had kids on my show. I remember back in 2011, I had an Easybake oven contest. The Easybake oven has been a part of my show from the beginning. I had the kids on the show do a bake-off, the girls versus the boys. My show is very old-fashioned. The only difference is that I do
it in drag.”

Ms. Demure is cognizant of the socio-political impact of a show hosted by a drag performer, and often takes advantage of it to push the cause of diversity and tolerance.

Harper’s Bazarroworld (a play on the magazine Harper’s Bazaar and Superman’s Bizarro universe) has gained attention outside of the local market and has picked up a few awards along the way.

“After the second or third year, I heard about a lot of producers branching out,” she says. “If you could find a sponsor outside of the area, they would pick up the VHS tapes then return them when they were done. I did Cincinnati, then I tried Columbus. I’ve won the Roxie L. Cole Award of Excellence, which represents non-conformist ideas. I’ve also won two Philo Farnsworth Awards, and earned a couple of honorable mentions for homegrown video. About a year and a half ago I entered my show in the Guinness Book of World Records. I didn’t win the honor because there isn’t a category for a show
like mine.”

Ms. Demure has found the climate in the Gem City to be very accepting of her particular brand of entertainment.

“Dayton is very liberal,” she says. “It’s the surrounding cities that are a lot more conservative. DATV reaches about forty-thousand households, and about half of those watch my show. Then you’ve got social media. I think social media has taken my show to a whole new level, and I go out of my way to promote. What I usually do is promote on Instagram, which is connected to Twitter, which is connected to Facebook. When I’m putting something on there, it goes to all three outlets at the same time. There are just so many more ways to connect with people these days,” she adds.

“I’ve always been very political on my show,” she says. “Even though it’s a lighthearted show, sometimes I’ll do something a little political to remind people that we want to keep the momentum going. That’s very important. I believe in putting yourself out there with class and dignity and just showing everyone that we’re just like everyone else. In 2003, I interviewed a little person in Cincinnati, and her father had been one of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. And I said ‘All people should be treated with dignity and class, including little people.’ She looked at me and said ‘Who are you calling little?’ What a laugh we got!”

The Ms. Demure Show can be seen on DATV, Spectrum Cable Channel 6, on Saturday nights at 9:00 p.m., with a repeat showing on Thursday nights. For more information, visit DATV.org, or Harpersbazarroworld.facebook.com.

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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