Shannon Jenkins, Associate Writer, Lifestyle & Culture
Experiencing Atlanta’s gay nightlife isn’t complete until you’ve bumped into Princess Charles. The vivacious performer, whose real name is Charles Kollock, has hosted countless events around the city and runs his own signature show, the Sophisticated Ladies of Atlanta. Raised in Statesboro, Princess Charles moved to Atlanta in 1993 for gymnastics and dance and eventually made his way to Atlanta. While working at Blake’s, a manager asked him if he’d ever thought about doing drag. Charles said he wasn’t opposed to it, and the two of them created a show. The rest, Princess Charles said, was drag history.
Shannon: How did you get your start as a performer?
Charles: I’ve always entertained as long as I could remember—singing and dancing for my family. As a professional entertainer I first danced for a company called Peepshow Entertainment. Later on a guy saw me dancing at the Masquerade and they hired me dance. Then I met Romeo Cologne, who is known as the Best Funk DJ in Atlanta out one night, and he told me he was holding auditions for dancers for his spin night at a club formerly known as Kaya. I danced for him for four years.
Shannon: How would you describe your style of entertainment?
Charles: It’s joyful. I’m a trained dancer, so I live to incorporate the technique of dance and gymnastics into my performances. It’s high energy, if you will. I love to emcee and I bring elements of the old school shows like Sonny and Cher, the Rat Pack, Flip Wilson, and Carol Burnett to the composition of the show. I frequently watch these shows over and over again to learn how these stars engaged their audiences
Shannon: What inspires your style?
Charles: The 1920’s, old Hollywood and, of course, the 70’s. Oh how I love a bell bottom! In that era fashion was soooooo much fun, and everyone seemed to get it in their own unique way. It’s the glamour of it all, dahlllings!
Shannon: Who has influenced your work?
Charles: My all-time favorite entertainers here in Atlanta are the ones who paved the way, so people like me have a chance to become a bright light within the community … i.e.. Lena Lust! I call her Auntie; she is amazing! Her energy is so infectious. Charlie Brown: I use to watch her at Backstreet. I was memorized at her wit and her timing as an emcee. Shawnna Brooks: I think she is electrifying on stage. Shawnna walks into a room and commands it; that’s something that can’t be taught. Budda D., Heather Daniels, Niesha Dupree, Alicia Kelly, and Mary Edith are all the mothers from whom I’ve learn so much. I’ve also been influenced by Brent Star, EJ Aviance, Phoenix, Nicole Paige Brooks, Destiny Brooks and my lil’ sistah Jasmine Aviance. Also my mom and stepfather. I must give props to my family Bill Kaelin, Lisa Jordan, Wally Lee, Bobbette Vance, Marcus Jackson and Caliber Enterprises who all continue to influence my work by providing ongoing support, belief in me, unconditional love and for showing me to be above the rest.
Shannon: What are a few highlights from your career?
Charles: I have also been in several SCAD documentaries. I have danced at the Fox Theatre, the Atlanta Ballet, and Gotta Dance Studios. I have also worked with renowned choreographer Jimmy Locust, who danced for Janet Jackson. In fashion I have worked with model Cynthia Bailey commentating from the red carpet during a fashion event for the International Interior Design Association at the Botanical Gardens, which was televised on the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” last year.
Shannon: What do you do to psych yourself up for a performance?
Charles: Hmmm … champagne is nice. No, no I say a lil’ prayer, take a deep breath and just go for it!
Shannon: What are some of your upcoming gigs?
Charles: I just finished hosting the Fenuxe Fire Party, which was a smash! I will be the host for an amateur drag show with a panel of judges during Atlanta Pride weekend, and I’m hosting a birthday party in September at the W Hotel in Buckhead. The Sophisticated Ladies of Atlanta will perform for the GLAAD Hero Award Gala in October. We are holding auditions for an upcoming SLOA show. Auditions are scheduled to be completed by the end of September. The girls and I have an amazing show prepared for you this holiday season. It is unlike anything Atlanta has ever seen before and you will want to be there.
To keep up with Princess Charless, follow him on Twitter @ckollock93.