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Prominent Drag Queen Restores Little Bevo

Posted on January 25, 2022.

Vacant since the 1980s, the beautifully renovated venue opens as an event space.

Many hard-earned crowns adorn the imposing display case in the lobby of Janessa Markstone-Mornett Highland’s "Drag Embassy" on South Grand—the mid-century mixed-use building that serves as the home of her drag family, and as the workshop of famed drag designer Alicia Markstone. But the 2021 Miss Cosmopolitan’s crowning achievement may be the meticulous restoration of the Little Bevo—the charming building across the street from Das Bevo—vacant since the 1980s. 

By day, Highland is known as Nick Fruend, a 32-year-old successful Realtor with Three Doors. “My grandfather, who passed away in 2020, had been a major developer in St. Charles. My father also made his living in real estate, so Little Bevo pays tribute to three generations,” Highland says.

With her real estate expertise, Highland was able to take advantage of historic tax credits and navigate the city’s permitting processes. With her drag bona fides, she’s been able to get media attention and bookings. While the senior Freund knew his son was gay, he didn’t know about the drag career. 

“He didn’t understand how I was able to generate the media attention and reservations, so I came out to him about Janessa, and he took it really well.” 

The 6,900-square-foot Little Bevo features ornate woodwork, stained glass, and original iron chandeliers. It has two large rooms on the main level, one of which includes the original bar. A grand staircase leads to a lower-level ballroom. On the back of the building, Highland has designed a complete apartment that she will rent out to guests. 

Events already booked include drag pageants and holiday parties. “I want the community to have a beautiful space they can be proud of,” she says. “I’m wanting to host LGBTQ fundraisers and similar events.” Highland also envisions weddings in the space, with newlyweds retreating to the attached private quarters. 

After four long decades, The Little Bevo wakes from its slumber restored, refreshed, and fit for a queen. 

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