A Party to Die For: The Mysterious Nights of Talia Tucker-L’Whor’s Murder
As someone who describes herself as a “fashion clown,” it’s only fitting that drag queen Talia Tucker L’Whor (aka Tucker Ellsworth) first dragged on April Fool’s Day.
“The first of April was my fourth [drag] birthday. The surprise on my parents’ faces when it turned out it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke!” she recalled with a laugh.
The Denver native has been performing citywide for four years, but 2022 looks like her biggest year yet. Last fall, Tucker L’Whor presented a series of murder-mystery parties at Middleman, where attendees were asked to come as a certain character, complete with outfit suggestions, personality traits and outrageous stories. For two hours, the spectators wonder to solve a series of murders, under the direction of Tucker L’Whor. The murder mystery parties have become a huge success, constantly selling out, and now she hosts them at four different venues.
“Bring your best debonair,” Tucker L’Whor hints, “and by the end of the night, three of you will be dead.”
While she started her drag career with a different stage name, she changed it in 2020 to bridge the gap between her drag persona and her non-drag life. “I felt very Jekyll and Hyde-ish, like, ‘This is my daytime character and this is my nighttime character.’ I wanted something more me,” she says. “So Talia is from ‘Thalia,’ which is the Greek muse of comedy. And Tucker is my name, and I also do tuck, so that’s a nice little pun.”
The 26-year-old added “L’Whor” to her drag name last year when she was adopted by fellow Denver drag queen Jessica L’Whor. “She was always a really big supporter and a guiding figure,” she says of her mentor. “She gave me a lot of really essential advice in my life.”
Tucker L’Whor describes her drag, in one word, as “delusional”.
“That’s usually how I present myself on stage,” she says. “Talia is fun, fashionable, wacky, eccentric and a bit of a clown. But I guess I’m trying to push my drag into a realm of fashion clowning. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I fall flat on my face, but it’s all part of the journey.”
Although Tucker L’Whor performs at drag classics like brunch and bingo, she prefers to come up with her own unique show concepts for her hosting gigs. With its murder-mystery nights, it aims to deliver drag entertainment in an all-new interactive format. She originally dreamed up the idea during the pandemic and staged her first murder mystery with her quarantine bubble.
“In the midst of confinement, I was lucky enough to live in, like, an adult dormitory. It’s a very nice house, and there are seven apartments, so we did a lot of events together”, she explains. “One of the events I wanted to promote was a murder mystery party, and I looked online and found a murder mystery plot from Murders Incorporated. The person writing them, her name is Chelsea Opfer – she’s exceptional, so we downloaded the base one, which is a 1920s murder mystery, and I trained and directed it with the whole house, a total of eighteen people. had a blast, and Tucker L’Whor knew the idea of the party had potential on a larger scale.
Tucker L’Whor then presented his concept of murder mystery in all the different locations of the city. “In the case of the murder mysteries, I messaged over thirty locations. Over a period of two months, I would sit down on my break from work and email each location in a twenty mile radius. Until one day I took the day off to go to every place I could think of and walk in and say, ‘I want to talk to your manager, it’s my idea, that’s what I have. “Because of being told no so many times, there had to be a certain level of delusional confidence,” she says. “The responses ranged from ‘No thanks, I’ll get back to you, maybe when the pandemic is over’ to ‘No, we don’t do that here. “”
Unlike most drag performers, Tucker L’Whor specifically sought out allied gay-friendly spaces rather than LGBTQ+ bars and clubs. “I’ve only really stayed in allied spaces. The thing is, there are so many talented drag artists in Denver and Colorado in general, so much so that so many queer places, specifically gay and lesbian, are very frequented,” she added. Explain. “I wanted to go in a direction that was going to be different from the usual place where drag shows take place.”
One place finally responded favorably: the East Colfax Middleman cocktail bar. Tucker L’Whor hosted his first murder-mystery night at Middleman last September, using the original 1920s ban plot, and has been offering them consistently ever since.
Preparation for the murder mystery party begins a week or two in advance, when attendees receive an email with their character’s name, profession, history, and involvement in the murder plot. And everyone comes out with their costumes. When I attended the first night of September, I played the tired, talkative maid to the glamorous socialite (French maid uniform and all). As other characters perished, clues such as newspaper clippings and secret letters circulated to help solve their murders. After Tucker L’Whor revealed the culprits at the end of the night, she gave out awards for Best Costume, Closest Character, and Closest Guess.
Our “cast” that night coincidentally included two additional bonus drag queens, Whorechata as the money-hungry trophy wife and Venus Victrola as the mob boss, so naturally they landed the best costume and the most Character. And when Tucker L’Whor decided to write her own Clue-themed murder mystery plot for the Christmas edition, she included roles for Whorechata and Victrola.
“I designed the entire script, the action, the plot, entirely from scratch,” she says, “and worked with Anne-Michelle, Venus, Whorechata and Matthew Cox to create this experience of completely unique and very theatrical drag. It was so much fun.”
The Christmas Clue-inspired mystery plot was a unique experience, but Tucker L’Whor hasn’t ruled out writing another original plot in the future. In the meantime, she’ll run through the three storylines she purchased from Murders Incorporated: the 1920s Prohibition theme, a Masquerade theme, and a Midnight Mansion theme.
“We have Masquerade in New Orleans. It’s based on a lot of voodoo magic, but I want to clarify that it’s based on stereotypes of voodoo magic, not a real historical account of what it is. “, she specifies. “Then there’s Midnight Manor, which is my favorite, because it’s about a creepy mansion, and there’s a mystery within the mystery. It’s a mystery from thirty years ago that you also have to understand in order to solve the mystery that is happening now.”
Now that she’s proven just how popular parties are, other venues where Tucker L’Whor has previously hosted shows are jumping on the murder mystery bandwagon. “We’re going to do them at Middleman, Call to Arms Brewing Company, Lady Justice Brewing and Fiction Brewery,” she says. “Those are our main four, and then I also have people who message me for private events, where they host them at their homes.”
Tucker L’Whor’s favorite part of murder-mystery parties so far has completely turned the usual dynamic between audience and performers upside down. “In the stereotypical drag show, the performance comes from the performer. The performer brings their artistry, they perform for the people, people tip them and they walk out. With this model, the performance comes from the audience” , she explains.
With three murder mystery nights to come in the coming months, now is your chance to be part of the unique, captivating and carefully curated experience. The next event will be at Middleman on Sunday May 15, followed by another on June 11 at Lady Justice Brewing Company and a July date at Fiction Beer Company. Tickets range from $30 to $50 per person depending on venue, and all tickets include a themed cocktail.
Can you solve the murder at hand, or will you be one of the unlucky three who meet their demise? There’s only one way to find out.
The next Talia Tucker L’Whor murder mystery event will be at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 15, at Middleman, 3401 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $30 and are available on Tucker L’Whor’s website.