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Orange billboard may cause a stir - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Billboard featuring comedian in blackface gets mixed reaction

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ORANGE -

A billboard is raising questions before it even goes up.

The sign will welcome visitors to Orange using Orange natives who are now celebrities. The three locals are football legend Bum Phillips, syndicated radio host Michael Berry, and comedian Charles Knipp.

Knipp is a drag queen comedian who dresses as fictional character Shirley Q. Liquor. While dressed as Liquor, Knipp speaks of caring for 19 children and how white people have too many television shows.

Some people compare the character to the blackface minstrel shows of the 1800s that stereotyped blacks as lazy and musical. But others see no problem, finding it comical and harmless, even empowering to black women which Knipp has said Shirley Q. was meant to do.

Shirley's slang and stereotypical dialect captivate her fans. Some Orange citizens say they ‘get the joke,' but others say they find the billboard inappropriate.

"I don't think that's right. Be who you are, don't dress as someone else," said Orange citizen Vivan Holbrooks.

"If he's from our area and he makes people happy, why not," said another resident.

KLVI radio and sponsoring companies Plastic Machining, Inc, and M&P Sealing Company have confirmed the billboard would be put up soon.

We asked the sponsor companies why not put a different person on the billboard. The president said the billboard is meant to be priority advertising for Clear Channel because Shirley Q. is often a guest on Michael Berry's syndicated radio show.

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