Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"[Phil Berger] was once a female impersonator"

[Phil Berger], a Republican state Senat[or] who supports North Carolina’s constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage [and HB2], once worked as a female impersonator at a gay nightclub in Winston-Salem and was gay at the time, according to a co-owner of the nightclub and a former employee.

[Phil Berger] worked at the now-defunct nightclub, Club Odyssey, according to co-owner Randy Duggins and former employee Gray Tomlinson.

“He is Mona Sinclair,” Duggins said, referring to [Phil Berger's] female persona.

Wiles’ responses over the past three weeks have ranged from categorical denial to tacit admission.

“I have already apologized to the people who matter most to me for the things I did when I was young,” [Phil Berger] said this week, declining to clarify for what he has apologized. The comment was made in the last of three separate interviews. At first, [Berger] denied the claim.

“That’s not me,” Wiles said three weeks ago, referring to Mona Sinclair. Wiles responded “no” when asked whether he was gay. This week, [Phil Berger's] campaign website, Facebook page and Twitter handle were taken down.

For about 14 years until 2010, Club Odyssey on Country Club Road was a nightclub where gay, lesbian and straight clientele could spend some money on drinks, relax with friends and, weekly, watch a show with talented female impersonators.

[Phil Berger] was a frequent patron in the late 1990s, Duggins said. Around 2001 and 2002, [Phil] worked for Duggins as the show director, booking performers and running the show as Mona Sinclair, the emcee....

“That’s him,” Tomlinson said, referring to current photos...

Duggins said he had no doubts.

“I recognized his picture when I was looking in the paper. That’s definitely him. He has aged some, but that’s him,” Duggins said. "I have no ax to grind against him. I just think he's a liar."

[Phil Berger] denied accusation to GOP

...“Why is it even an issue?” he asked, referring to questions about his time at Club Odyssey and the amendment.

...An online search for “[Phil Berger]” and ...his town of residence in campaign filings, turns up a link to the Miss Gay America website.

Within the website, a webpage with [Phil Berger's] name has been taken offline but the cached version was still accessible this week. The webpage lists a [Phil Berger] as Mona Sinclair. It says he ...was a promoter of Miss Gay Eastern States America and a promoter for Miss Gay North Carolina America.

The webpage also says that Wiles was suspended for “conduct unbecoming to a promoter of the Miss Gay America pageant system,” according to the webpage, without providing more information. Larry Tyger, a co-owner of the Miss Gay America pageant, said in a telephone interview that he does not discuss suspensions.

The content of that webpage has provided fodder for a political attack ad on a social-media website..."