Drag king comic Murray Hill vows ‘the show will go on’ after fire at Brooklyn apartment on his birthday

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·3 min read

Drag king comic Murray Hill is anything but camera shy, but on Monday, as he sifted through the remnants of a fire that destroyed his Brooklyn home on his birthday, he was reluctant to pose for a picture.

Why? Because he wasn’t in character. And Murray Hill is always in character, unless a four-alarm fire tears through his Williamsburg townhouse on Thanksgiving, damaging his gaudy suits, colorful ties and every piece of stage memorabilia that helps make him a star.

But Hill, always a trouper, obliged the camera, puffy coat and sneakers notwithstanding, fulfilling the promise that endures even in the hardest of times: The show must go on.

“I was able to go and get the suits today,” Hill said. “There’s water and smoke damage, so we just put them in a bag. We’re talking right now to see if I can get my memorabilia out.”

Hill, who turned 50 on Thanksgiving, was celebrating with friends in Amagansett, L.I., when someone told him about the fire that erupted inside a neighboring apartment building, engulfing the residence before scorching Hill’s home.

The blaze broke out just after 11 p.m. on the top floor of a three-story, wood-framed house on Devoe St. near Lorimer Street.

The fire spread into the space between the top floor and the roof. In all, 170 fire personnel were needed to bring the blaze under control just before 2 a.m.

Photos of the aftermath showed the top floor had been badly burned. The roof was destroyed. Debris and tenants’ belongings littered the sidewalk.

Six firefighters sustained non-life-threatening injuries. No civilians were hurt, but four families were left homeless, according to the American Red Cross. Hill is now staying at a local hotel, unsure of when or if he’ll be able to return to the apartment where he lived for 15 years.

Friends, including standup comedian Bridget Everett, launched a GoFundMe page to help raise money to cover Hill’s relocating costs including furniture, appliances, clothing, rent and storage space.

It was a payback of sorts for 20-plus years of joy Hill has spread in New York City clubs through his drag persona that falls somewhere between Jackie Gleason and Joey Bishop. It’s a shtick he has been perfecting for decades, so much so that his alter ego is more or less a mystery.

The downtown fixture has shot episodes for Amy Schumer’s new Hulu Show “Life & Beth” and played a recurring character on the HBO show “Somebody Somewhere,” among other gigs.

Hill said he was moved by the GoFundMe donations, which have already netted $34,000 above the $100,000 goal. But the comedian said he was even more inspired by the first responders who risk their lives to protect people and property.

“I’ve always appreciated the city services, but I’m blown away by the FDNY,” Hill said. “Because all of these houses have been here for so long. They’re all connected, and six firefighters got hurt and it took them like three and a half hours to put it out.”

Despite the Thanksgiving setback, Hill said he is looking forward to his next holiday gathering, “A Murray Little Christmas” at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan from Dec. 14 through Dec. 18.

“The show will go on. It will,” Hill said. “And you know, Stephen Sondheim just passed, and he had that classic song, ‘I’m Still Here.’ So that’s basically how I feel. I’m still here.”

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