For 20-odd years, Darryl Demure — better known as drag queen and television host Ms. Demure — has put passion, dedication, and love into hosting a public access talk show for southwest Ohio communities, bringing a whole lot of drag, acceptance, and queerness into viewers’ lives. Today, Harper’s Bazzaroworld Presents the Ms. Demure Show on DATV is hailed as the oldest LGBTQ+ public access variety talk show in the country.
Demure, 55, has created a show that is an act of love for her community. It features interviews with community members and celebrities, performances by herself and others, puppet shows, and whatever else the tenured host can think up.
Show business was always the goal, Demure says. However, it wasn’t until she was 32 that she stepped into the drag scene and found her ticket to stardom.
“I’ve been going out to the bars for decades,” Demure says. “I had lost a lot of weight, and I was sort of rebooting myself, hitting the reset button.”
She says she needed something to take her to the next level, and so she started performing in drag. Eventually, she decided that she needed her own niche, and as a devoted public access television viewer with a background in broadcasting, community television was an obvious choice.
“I went down [to DATV]. I saw, at that time, it was only $20 to become a member, and you got to use their state-of-the-art equipment,” Demure says. “I thought, Well, you know, this is a place where I really feel at home because there’s all these oddballs down here.”
The rest is history. DATV has shown its own appreciation of Demure: In 2019, for a tie-in with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, the station featured her in a billboard advertisement.
Demure says she has tried to get the show into Guinness World Records, but there needs to be competition for that. It’s hard to demonstrate a show is the longest-running of its kind when it’s so eclectic there’s little to compare it to.
That’s OK — Demure isn’t in it for the glory. She just wants people to feel safe when they tune in.
“I just want to show people that they have a refuge,” she explains. “It’s sort of like the old days in the LGBT community, when you went to a bar and you knocked on the door. And it was always in this undisclosed location, and you knew that you were going to be safe.”
“I’ve applied that to my program,” she continues. “I’m just doing it on a bigger scale and also giving people a window into our community.”
A lover of the 1960s sitcom Bewitched, Demure compares her work welcoming in audiences to Darrin Stephens’s desire to just exist and be like everyone else.
“We all just want to be loved,” she says.
The Ms. Demure Show has become the queen’s way of showing people and her community the love she has for them. “This show has been my husband, my boyfriend — like I mean it’s everything to me,” she says.
Demure adds that she hopes viewers find it lighthearted and that it allows them to escape from the world for a bit.
“It’s about universes within universes, and we all strive for nurturing love and being accepted and treated with dignity,” she says.
This story is part of The Advocate’s 2022 Love issue, which is out on newsstands February 22, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.