Drag-History-Month

MARSHA P. JOHNSON 1944–1992

American activist, Stonewall Riots instigator, “Queen Mother” and “saint.” She moved to New York City in 1966, where her outgoing, ebullient personality made her a well-known fixture among the drag queens and trans women on Christopher Street. She was often homeless, but she was also known for giving her last few dollars away to someone who might need it more. When asked what her middle initial stood for, she would say, “Pay it no mind.” She was present in 1969 when the police raided the Stonewall Inn, proclaiming “I got my civil rights!” and throwing a shot glass at a mirror. The “shot glass heard around the world” is believed by some to be the inciting action of the ensuing riots. After Stonewall, as “crossdressers” were being shunted away from the mainstream gay rights movement, Johnson and her close friend Sylvia Rivera founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR. Securing a run-down apartment, they took in as many drag queens and transgender youth as they could, then hustled the streets to raise money so that their children wouldn’t have to. In 1972 she joined the queer performance troupe Hot Peaches, and in 1974 Andy Warhol painted her portrait as part of his series “Ladies and Gentlemen.” She fought for LGBTQ rights all her life, and later joined ACT UP to advocate for people with AIDS. In 1992, shortly after the Pride March, Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River. The police ruled it a suicide, and refused to investigate the death further.

In celebration of LGBT Pride month, we take a bow to the Queen RuPaul ( RuPaul Andre Charles) the first openly gay African American cross-dresser to become a mainstream celebrity. RuPaul stormed onto the scene with the 1992 debut album Supermodel of the World, featuring the hit single “Supermodel (You Better Work)”, which had dance clubs across the world ready to “sashay, shantay” and “work,” channeling their inner supermodel.

GIF via Giphy

SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 27, 2012 – Tula

Caroline “Tula” Cossey (born 31 August 1954) is an English model. She is one of the world’s most well known transsexual women, having appeared in a James Bond film and been the first to pose for Playboy. Since being outed by British tabloid News of the World, Cossey has fought for her right to legally marry and to be recognized by the law as a woman.

Cossey was born Barry Kenneth Cossey in Brooke, Norfolk, and raised as male. Through puberty, Cossey was distinctly feminine in appearance due to an intersex condition known as Klinefelter’s syndrome, where, instead of having the XY male chromosome pattern, she possesses the genotype XXXY. In Cossey’s autobiography My Story, she describes an unhappy childhood, where she suffered confusing feelings and bullying by peers due to her femininity. At sixteen she moved to London and worked at a variety of low-wage jobs.

Cossey started transitioning after befriending a post-operative transsexual woman. By seventeen, Cossey was receiving hormone therapy, living full-time in a female gender role and had begun a career as a showgirl at a London nightclub. Despite initial shock, Cossey’s parents were eventually supportive.Following breast augmentation surgery, Cossey worked as a showgirl in Paris and as a topless dancer in Rome to save up for sex reassignment surgery (SRS). After years of hormonal and psychological treatment, and legally changing her name, Cossey had her final surgery on 31 December 1974 at Charing Cross Hospital, London.

Cossey now began an active social life as a woman, concealing her past as a male. Asked about her dating life, Cossey replied, “I’m afraid I went a little wild”. She told tabloids she had a romance with Des Lynam, though Lynam says he does not recall it. Cossey worked as a model under the name “Tula”. She appeared in top magazines such as the Australian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and worked extensively as a glamour model. She was a Page Three Girl for the British tabloid The Sun and appeared in Playboy in 1981.

In 1978, Cossey won a part on the British game show 3-2-1. A tabloid journalist then contacted her, revealing he had discovered she was transsexual, and planned to write about it. Other journalists researched her past, attempting to interview her family members. Cossey dropped out of the show, convincing the producers to release her from her contract. After this incident, Cossey maintained a lower profile, accepting only smaller assignments.

Cossey was cast as an extra in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. Shortly after the film’s release, the tabloid News of the World came out with a front page headline that read “James Bond Girl Was a Boy.” By her own accounts, Cossey was so upset she contemplated suicide. However, she continued her modelling career. Cossey responded by releasing I Am a Woman, her first autobiography.

Cossey became engaged to Count Glauco Lasinio, an Italian advertising executive, who was the first man to date her knowing of her past. He encouraged her to petition for changes in the British law concerning transsexuals. The engagement ended, but her legal efforts continued for seven years, eventually reaching the European Court of Human Rights.

In 1985, Cossey appeared extensively in the video for The Power Station’s “Some Like It Hot”. After breaking up with Lasinio, Cossey met Elias Fattal, a Jewish businessman, who was unaware of her history until he proposed marriage on Valentine’s Day 1988. When she told him, rather than rejecting her, he merely asked if she would convert to Judaism. She agreed. They were married on 21 May 1989, just weeks after the European Court of Human Rights decided legally to recognize Cossey as a woman. They returned from their honeymoon to find that The News of the World had published a story on their wedding. Fattal’s family was angry and persuaded him to have the marriage annulled.

On 27 September 1990, the European Court overturned their decision on a British government appeal. (Later, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was passed, giving transgender people in the United Kingdom means to change their legal sex.) Cossey returned to modeling, which she had given up for four years

In 1991, Cossey released My Story, her second autobiography. In it she gave details of her transition and her unsuccessful battle with the European Commission. She was featured in the September 1991 issue of Playboy, in a pictorial, “The Transformation Of Tula”, as an acknowledged transsexual.

Cossey married Canadian David Finch in 1992. They live together in Kennesaw, Georgia near Atlanta.

LGBTQ Black History Icons: RuPaul
By Benjamin Adam

RuPaul (born November 17, 1960) is a drag queen, recording artist and television personality. RuPaul gained prominence in the Atlanta and New York City club scenes in the 1980s, before earning widespread fame in the early 1990s with the hit single “Supermodel (You Better Work)”. Ru co-hosted the BRIT Awards with Elton John in 1997, also earning a UK top 10 together, RuPaul modeled with MAC Cosmetics, appearing as a spokesperson for MAC Viva Glam. RuPaul hosted a talk show, The RuPaul Show, on VH1 in 1996 and appeared in episodes of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Popular and Ugly Betty. As the creator of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a talent competition in search of “America’s next drag superstar,” RuPaul returned to the forefront of pop culture. Season six of Drag Race premieres on Logo TV on Monday, February 24th at 9/8c, coinciding with the release of Ru’s new album Born Naked.

SassySays.com Drag History Month - January 3, 2012 - Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson (1944 - July 6, 1992) born in Elizabeth, New Jersey as Malcolm Michaels, Jr. Marsha was an African-American transgender activist and a popular figure in New York City’s gay and art scene from the 1960s to the 1990s.

One of the city’s best known drag queens of the times Johnson was a leader in clashes with the police amid the Stonewall Riots. She was a co-founder, along with Sylvia Rivera, of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) in the early 1970s. She also was the “mother” of S.T.A.R. House along with Sylvia, getting together food and clothing to help support the young queens living in the house on the lower East Side of New York.

Once, appearing in a court the judge asked Marsha, “What does the ‘P’ stand for?” Johnson gave her customary response “Pay it No Mind.” This phrase became her trademark. In 1974 Marsha P. Johnson was photographed by famed artist Andy Warhol, as part of a “ladies and gentlemen” series of polaroids featuring drag queens. An interview with Marsha P. Johnson by gay activist Allen Young (writer) can be found in the book “Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation,” originally published in 1972 and available in a new edition from New York University Press.

In July 1992, Johnson’s body was found floating in the Hudson River off the West Village Piers shortly after the 1992 Pride March. Police ruled the death a suicide. Johnson friends and supporters said she was not suicidal, and a people’s postering campaign later declared that Johnson had earlier been harassed near the spot where her body was found. Attempts to get the police to investigate the cause of death were unsuccessful.

Today Johnson’s legacy still survives, and popular New York City art band Antony and the Johnsons adopted their name from Johnson.

For More on Johnson Please check out the new film Pay It No Mind !

 SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 8, 2012 - Jackie Beat

International drag superstar Jackie Beat has been entertaining audiences across the world for over two decades with her razor-sharp comedy and hysterical song parodies. 

Her hilarious music videos on YouTube are huge hits that have been seen by millions of people.   Her one-woman show “Jackie Beat Is A Whole Lotta’ Love” ran a record 18 months at NYC’s premiere cabaret, Fez, and she returns to The Big Apple every year with her award-winning, standing-room-only holiday show.

Jackie’s stand-up has been featured in comedy clubs across the country and on Comedy Central, VH-1 and MTV.  She was a staff writer for the WB comedy series “Hype!”, has written for the Sci Fi Channel and was one of US Magazine’s Fashion Police top cops.  Her scathing song parodies have been featured on America’s Top Forty with Ryan Seacrest, The Howard Stern Show, Much Music TV, Yo on E! and PerezHilton.com.

She has appeared on many TV shows such as “Sex and the City” and in several movies including “Flawless” with Robert DeNiro, the festival hit “Wigstock The Movie” and the camp cult horror favorite “Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver.”  Jackie has also been in many off-Broadway productions, performed on countless cruises ships, toured with Roseanne Barr as her opening act (including a 7 week run at the New York New York in Las Vegas!), enjoys a sold-out 8-week run in Provincetown every summer, and is lead singer of the popular electro-rock band Dirty Sanchez, who toured with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.  Their debut CD on Hypnotic Records is available in stores now.

For More: www.MissJackieBeat.com

SassySays.com Drag History Month - January 2, 2012 - Sylvia Rae Rivera

Sylvia Rae Rivera (2 July 1951–19 February 2002) was an American transgender activist. Rivera was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance and helped found STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a group dedicated to helping homeless young street trans women.

For More information on Sylvia and how you can help please visit: www.srlp.org 

SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 15, 2012 - Kevin Aviance

Kevin Aviance (born on June 22, 1968 in Richmond, Virginia) is an American female impressionist, Club/Dance musician, and fashion designer and nightclub personality. He is a very popular personality in New York City’s gay scene and has performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He is a member of the House of Aviance, a local gay performer’s group. He is known for his trademark phrase, “Work. Fierce. Over. Aviance!” He won the 1998 and 1999 Glammy Awards, the award for nightlife personalities in New York City.

Aviance was raised in Richmond, Virginia, in a close-knit family of eight siblings. His father provided for them as a landscape contractor. From an early age, Aviance dedicated himself to the study of music and theatre, his first experience in drag was in the seventh grade. His early influences were “punk, Boy George, Devo, and Grace Jones”. He moved to Washington D.C. where he worked as a hairdresser and did drag performances. He developed a bad crack habit but with help of the House of Aviance he was able to overcome it, after his initiation in the house he took the name Kevin Aviance. He later moved to New York City and made a name for himself as a dancer/performer at Sound Factory, a club mainly for queer Latinos and blacks. Major DJs and club promoters saw him performing and started hiring him, he became one of a handful of drag performers in NYC able to support themselves solely on performances. His career as a performance artist and club personality began in Washington, DC, continued in Miami, and eventually landed him in New York City. In 1989, the House of Aviance was founded in Washington by Mother Juan Aviance. In July 1999 Aviance performed as part of Billboard’s sixth annual Dance Music Summit.

Aviance has appeared in several films, including Flawless starring Robert De Niro and the independent film Punks. Besides his feature-film work he has made guest appearances on such shows as The Tyra Banks Show, and America’s Next Top Model, also hosted by Tyra Banks. His songs Din Da Daa, Rhythm Is My Bitch, Alive, Give It Up and Strut, have all reached Number 1 of the Billboard dance chart. The only one of his singles not to peak at Number 1 to date is Dance For Love. Aviance’s most successful dance radio hit to date is Give It Up released in 2004. His second album, Entity is a more consistent effort than his first but seems to be available online only.

On June 10, 2006 while exiting the Phoenix, a popular gay bar located in the East Village section of Manhattan, Aviance was robbed and beaten by a group of men who yelled anti-gay slurs at him. Four suspects were arrested under New York’s hate-crime law, but reports say up to seven men were involved in the attack. Aviance was not dressed in his gender-bending performance clothes but as a boy, he had to have his jaw wired for a month. He also suffered a fractured knee and neck injuries as well as blows to the face.Despite suffering a broken jaw, he insisted on appearing in the city’s gay pride parade later that month.

On March 21, 2007 all four assailants pled guilty, receiving prison sentences ranging from 6 to 15 years in plea agreements that included hate crimes embellishments. The four young men, who range in age from 17 to 21 years old, [would have] faced up to 25 years each for the attack, had they been found guilty in a trial. All had been charged with gang assault as a hate crime.

Recently, Aviance appeared on the song This is New York City (Bitch!) by the transgender rap group, La'Mady from the album Jonny McGovern Presents: This is NYC, Bitch! The East Village Mixtape. In April 2008, Aviance staged a comeback to the club scene and entertainment world, and was reunited on stage with Junior Vasquez, who had previously worked together but had become estranged over a professional dispute. At Cielo, a club in New York known for its lighted walls, the tandem performance marked the return to the spotlight for Aviance, performing two of his new hit singles. He most recently recorded a cover of Britney Spears’s Gimme More, produced by Jonny McGovern and Adam Joseph for inclusion on The East Village Mixtape 2: The Legends Ball.

 

 For More info: www.facebook.com/kevinaviancefans

SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 26, 2012 - Jamie Clayton

Jamie Clayton Is a transgender model turned television actress. This year Jamie can be seen playing “Kyla” on Season 3 of the hit HBO series “HUNG” alongside Thomas Jane.

 

In 2010 Jamie co-hosted and was the on screen Makeup Artist on Vh1′s first makeover show, “TRANSform Me”.

The show quickly became a breakout hit and was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. 

 

For More: www.jamieclayton.net

SassySays.com -Drag History Month-January 16, 2012 Justin Vivian Bond

Justin Vivian Bond (born May 9, 1963), formerly simply Justin Bond, is an American singer-songwriter, performance artist, occasional actor and Radical Faerie. Described as a “fixture of the New York avant-garde”, Bond arose to notability playing the role of Kiki DuRayne in the drag cabaret act Kiki and Herb from the early 1990s through to 2004. Born physically male, Bond is transgender and eschews gender-specific honorifics and pronouns, preferring “Mx.” and “V” respectively.

Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, Bond went on to study theater at Adelphi University before moving to San Francisco after graduating in 1985. It was here that v met Kenny Mellman, and they began a cabaret act together, which would eventually lead to them creating the characters of Kiki and Herb. Bond designed Kiki to be an elderly alcoholic woman who would perform covers of pre-existing songs in her own distinct style. Bond decided to bring an end to the Kiki character in 2004, subsequently embarking on a solo career, and starring in John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus (2006) as vself before releasing vs first EP, Pink Slip (2009), and then an album, Dendrophile (2011). That same year also saw the publication of a memoir, entitled Tango: My Childhood Backwards and in High Heels.

Bond self describes vs voice as being “kind of woody and full with a lot of vibration”. For vs musical work, Bond has received numerous accolades including the Obie Award (2001), Bessie Award (2004), and Ethyl Eichelberger Award (2007). Bond was also nominated for a Tony Award in 2007.

 

For more on Mx. V: www.justinbond.com

SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 22, 2012 - Brini Maxwell

Described as part Donna Reed, part Mary Tyler Moore, Maxwell makes kitsch feel classy through her unparalleled personal flair for home design, entertaining and savvy household tips. Inspired by a divine thrift shop purchase of 1950’s nesting bowls, she first began sharing her vintage/classic know-how with other Manhattanites in 1998 through her self-titled cable access television show. With an emphasis on uncompromising fabulousness, Brini quickly garnered a devoted fan base and established herself as the go-to-girl on vintage fashion and mid-century modern treasures. After five years on the local airwaves her show was picked up by the Style Network. The subsequent series has been called a delightful success and has attracted a diverse audience thorough its national platform.

Brini was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised there and the Midwest. She was a child prodigy in the area of domestic science, piping perfect mashed potatoes at the age of five and redesigning the rumpus room in her family home by age 10. At the Fashion Institute of Technology, between spontaneous bouts of cleaning and organizing the student union she achieved a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design. She worked in the fashion industry for 5 years, never finding fulfillment until she started developing her television show.

Brini still lives in the same tiny intricately apportioned New York City apartment used as the set for the original television show. She spends her time between shooting the television show and making personal appearances, doing needlepoint, shopping for inspiration in thrift shops and vintage stores and spending time with friends. She’s currently shopping for a second home in Palm Springs California and looking wistfully at vintage 1960’s convertibles on eBay Motors.

 For More: www.BriniMaxwell.com

SassySays.com Drag History Month - January 1, 2012 - The Unsung Queens of The Stonewall Riots.

In the summer of 1969, the New York gay activist movement was born when a group of gay New Yorkers made a stand against raiding police officers at The Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Village. In those days, gay bars were regularly raided by the police. But on June 27, 1969, the patrons of The Stonewall Inn had had enough.

The crowd, which eventually grew to an estimated 2000 strong, was fed up. Something about that night ignited years of anger at the way police treated gay people. Chants of “Gay Power!” echoed in the streets.

Soon, beer bottles and trash cans were flying. As the police raided the bar, a crowd of four hundred patrons gathered on the street outside and watched the officers arrest the bartender, the doorman, and some of the Drag Queens.

Police reinforcements arrived and attempted to beat the crowd away, but the angry protesters fought back, lead by the Drag Queens who had, had enough. 

By 4AM, it looked like it was over. But the next night, the crowd returned, even larger than the night before. For two hours, protesters rioted in the street outside of the Stonewall Inn until the police sent a riot-control squad to disperse the crowd.

The following Wednesday, approximately 1000 protesters returned to continue the protest and march on Christopher Street. A movement had begun.

Due to the lack of historical recordings, exact facts and names are difficult to confirm. Some are more solid than others. However to any of our “Fore-Drag Mothers” whose names has been left out or forgotten in history. Today we remember you and your bravery in the face of adversity. Thank you, you will never be forgotten. 

Happy Drag History Month!

 

 

 

 

 

 SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 7, 2012 - Rollerena “Queen of Studio 54”

Roller (A)rena (the A is silent) came into being on the evening of Saturday, September 16, 1972. Born in Gravelsnatch, Kentucky in 1948, the boy who became Rollerena came out in 1961. He would hitch hike or take a bus to Louisville and became the “bluegrass* belle” of three counties as a teenager. In April of 1966, at the age of 18, he registered for the draft and graduated from High School in May of 1967. He served in the artillery infantry in Vietnam and returned to the states in September 1969. Late in 1969 he worked on Wall Street spent New Year’s Eve of 1969 in Times Square.

He started roller skating to work in 1970 (this was regular roller skates, not in-line rollerblades which became popular on the streets in the 1980s and 1990s). He was 5 feet 11 inches and 128 lbs, he practiced at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue. He was given the nicknamed “Rollin’ Skeets”; he wore a visor, umbrella on his head, a backpack and a little horn at his waist for foot traffic. In 1971 he was in the Gay Pride Parade as “Rollin’ Skeets.”

On September 16, 1972, he went into an antique store on Christopher Street put on a bathrobe-like gown, a 1950s hat, a straw basket and skated up and down Christopher Street. He went into a bar, “the whole place went absolutely wild!” “A crowd gathered like they were awaiting Glinda landing in Oz.” This was the birth of “Roller Arena the Fairy Godmother”. She made her debut as “Roller Arena” in the 1973 Easter Parade. Her skating was limited to well-heeled neighborhoods, gay spots and chic haunts like Studio 54. She collected thirty 1950s hats, costume jewelry earrings, and 15 pairs of rhinestone glasses. October 15,1979 “Roller- Arena” changed her name to “Rollerena.” In 1980-81 Rollerena became a cartoon subject in “Rollerena” published in The New York Native, by Mike Thomas. The creator of Rollerena did not consider himself a drag queen; instead she became the character of a Fairy Godmother. As Rollerena became more and more well known people began to request her presence at various events. She had a post office box, a friend as business representative, post cards, began skate dancing at the popular discos, and was in many newspaper articles and TV and radio talk shows.

Rollerena went by the names Rollin’ Skeets in 1970, Roller Arena Fairy Godmother in 1972 and Rollerena Fairy Godmother in 1979. Various newspapers gave different spellings to the Fairy Godmother and these spellings are used in the Finding Aid as they appear in the articles, they include: “Rollerina”, “Roller Rena”, Rolla-Reena”, “Rollerarena”, “Roll-Arena.”

 

For more check out this article on Rollerena in the NYPress: http://www.nypress.com/article-16374-when-being-a-freak-was-chic.html

 SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 6, 2012 - Jackie Curtis

Jackie Curtis was born in New York City. He performed as both a man and a woman throughout his career. While performing in drag, Curtis would typically wear lipstick, glitter, bright red hair, and ripped and torn dresses and stockings. Curtis pioneered this unique style, a combination of trash and glamour which prompted assertions that Curtis inspired the “Glitter rock” or “Glam Rock” movement of the 1970s.

“Jackie Curtis is not a drag queen. Jackie is an artist. A pioneer without a frontier”, Andy Warhol said of his associate. Primarily a stage actor, Curtis debuted at the age of 17 in Tom Eyen’s play Miss Neferititi Regrets. Curtis began to write his own plays immediately after this experience, often featuring famous transsexuals, such as Candy Darling and, later, Holly Woodlawn, both of whom appeared in his productions, which enjoyed successful runs at La Mama and were well-reviewed. Curtis’ work was inspired, in part, by the Playhouse of the Ridiculous. As writer and lead actor his plays include Glamour, Glory and Gold, which also starred Candy Darling, Melba LaRose, Jr. and Robert De Niro in his first appearance on stage, playing several roles; Vain Victory, Amerika Cleopatra featuring Harvey Fierstein; Femme Fatale, with Patti Smith, Jayne County and Penny Arcade; and Heaven Grand In Amber Orbit with Holly Woodlawn.

Andy Warhol and his director Paul Morrissey cast Curtis and Candy Darling in Flesh (1968) and, with the addition of Holly Woodlawn, in Women in Revolt (1971); a comedic spoof of the women’s liberation movement.

Jackie Curtis made two more movies during the 1980s. Drug addiction, however, had taken control of his life, eventually leading to his death of heroin overdose at the age of 38.

For more info please see: www.jackiecurtis.com

SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 20, 2012 - Sweetie

Sweetie, an accomplished entertainer, hostess, and whore, Sweetie is New York’s “big-titted honkey soul momma.” A daughter of the unforgettable drag houses Pyramid and Boy Bar, she has enjoyed success as an iconic club performer, cable television star, stage and motion picture actress, and mother of the infamous tranny fest QUEEN BEE.

Sweetie gained notoriety at JACKIE 60 as a writer and actress for her irreverent portrayals of tragic billionairess Christina Onassis, social outcast Big Sue, Appalachian earth mother Vernell Puckett, and 1980s fag-hag Heather Peleshock. As a golfclub-wielding “Patsy Ramsey” in the Jackie’s Playhouse presentation of Daddy’s Little Prostitute, Sweetie was seen by millions on the sensational tabloid news program Hard Copy (footage smuggled out by reporters with live cameras in their baseball caps.) As well as live theatre pieces, Sweetie is also touted as one of New York’s most heart-wrenching lip sync artists.

 

Sweetie has appeared in the Motion Pictures: Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie NewMar and Starrbooty. As well as the television series “Faking It” and “Project Runway.”

She is the hostess for the Off-Broadway hit show: The Ultimate Drag-Off.

 

SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 19, 2012 - Chi Chi LaRue 

Chi Chi LaRue  Born Larry David Paciotti ( November 8, 1959) is an American film director of gay, bisexual and straight pornography. He is best known in his drag persona as Chi Chi LaRue and has also directed under the names “Lawrence David” and “Taylor Hudson”.

Director and DJ, Paciotti, mainly acting under his drag diva persona, Chi Chi LaRue, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in the adult film industry. His fame far surpassing that of most superstars he created over the past decades. Beginning in the press department for Catalina Video, a label he now owns under his company Channel 1 Releasing, it wasn’t long before Chi Chi LaRue’s creative spark set afire. He was soon directing some of the highest selling releases of all time. Multi-award winning and an GayVN Award Hall of Fame inductee, Chi Chi has branded his name and image creating everything sex toys to candles to Chi Chi LaRue water, all sold at his adult boutique, Chi Chi LaRue’s, on Santa Monica Blvd. in the heart of West Hollywood. In 2005, Chi Chi LaRue became a DJ and now tours with porn stars from his movies, selling out nights in clubs all over the world. In 2007 LaRue was chosen as one of Out (magazine)’s Top 50 most influential people in the GLBT community.

LaRue’s drag persona began upon moving to the Twin Cities area where Chi Chi began performing in drag as one-half of “The Weather Gals”, a “hag drag” revue.

He later moved to California with a friend and was hired by Catalina Video as an administrative assistant and publicist because of his knowledge of porn and the workings of the porn industry.

LaRue worked at Catalina in the late 1980s, in which many of the producers and directors in the gay porn industry were falling ill or dying.

In 2001 LaRue made a Cameo appearance in the U.S. independent film The Fluffer, a triangular story of obsessive love set against the backdrop of the adult film industry.

LaRue has directed hundreds of gay porn films since 1988. In 2003, he began to direct straight porn for Vivid Video, where he became a favorite among female stars, particularly Jenna Jameson. For some time, LaRue divided his attention between Vivid Video and his own Rascal Video for Channel 1 Releasing.

In 2006, LaRue announced that she would no longer produce films for Vivid Video because they were featuring actors and actresses having sex without condoms.

In August 2008, he directed the controversial bisexual film titled Shifting Gears. LaRue coined the term Straight-for-pay (a play on word for Gay-for-pay), to reference performer Blake Riley’s first encounter with a woman, Shy Love, and liking it.

LaRue and partner, Channel 1 Releasing opened their first company store, Chi Chi LaRue’s, in West Hollywood in 2008. The store offers the entire Channel 1 catalog of more than 2,000 titles and products. An exclusive arrangement has also been made with One Condoms to provide all the protective barrier products for the store.

For More: www.chichilarues.com

SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 12, 2012 - Amanda Lepore

Amanda Lepore is an American transgender model, musician, nightclub hostess, fashion icon, performance artist and New York City Icon. She has appeared in advertising for numerous companies, including M.A.C. cosmetics, Mego Jeans, The Blonds, Swatch, CAMP Cosmetics, and Heatherette, which has used her likeness on clothing as well as hiring her as a model. Lepore is also noted as a muse for photographer David LaChapelle’s work. She participated in his Artists and Prostitutes 1985-2005 exhibit in New York, where she “lived” in a voyeuristic life-sized set.

 According to Michael Musto, Lepore grew up in the Essex County community of Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Lepore told a reporter “from day one she knew she was a girl,” and in her teens she began making costumes for a go-go dancer in exchange for hormones. She says her parents soon took her from public school and hired a private tutor, then took her to a psychologist who helped her get a hormone prescription. Lepore says she then got married and moved in with her in-laws, who assisted her with getting sex reassignment surgery. She says she left the marriage after several years and moved to New York City, where she worked in a nail salon and as a dominatrix before meeting Michael Alig and becoming a fixture on the New York nightlife scene. She soon met David LaChapelle and began collaborating with him.

Lepore has appeared in fashion magazines, including French Playboy, Ponytail, DAMn and TUSH. She is on the cover of Lords of Acid’s 1999 album Expand Your Head and on Thighpaulsandra’ 2006 album The Lepore Extrusion.

Lepore had a cameo in the 1998 documentary Party Monster: The Shockumentary as well as the 2003 film Party Monster. She was also featured in Another Gay Sequel in 2008. Lepore has also had cameos in music videos for artists including Elton John, Thalía, The Dandy Warhols, Girl in a Coma, Grace Jones, and TIGA for his cover of “Sunglasses at Night."Lepore appears in many of Cazwell music videos, including "Watch my Mouth” and "All Over Your Face”.

In October 1999 Swatch released “Time Tranny”, a watch designed by LaChapelle with Lepore on the face displaying a printed crack on the glass and marble stripes as the background. A second version displays no cracked glass and a blue and yellow striped background.

 Possessing the hourglass measurements of 39-23-37 and standing at 5'2, Amanda Lepore is very petite.

Her first single, “Deeper,” is a 2003 dance song written by Lady Bunny.

In 2005 Lepore released her first album, Introducing… Amanda Lepore, which contains “Champagne” and “My Hair Looks Fierce”.

In April 2006, Integrity Toys launched an Amanda Lepore doll produced by Jason Wu as a benefit for AIDS charities.

In 2007 she released two remix albums, Fierce Pussy and My Pussy E.P. Lepore also sings the main title for Another Gay Movie, “I Know What Boys Like”. She also performs “Cotton Candy”, from the soundtrack of Another Gay Sequel.

Lepore was a part of True Colors Tour 2007, a 15-city North American benefit tour sponsored by the Logo channel, hosted by comedian Margaret Cho and headlined by Cyndi Lauper. The tour benefited the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG and the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and it included Erasure, Debbie Harry, The Gossip, Rufus Wainwright, The Dresden Dolls, The MisShapes, Rosie O'Donnell, Indigo Girls, The Cliks and other special guests.

Her second album I…Amanda Lepore was released in 2011.

Lepore has a line of cosmetics in partnership with CAMP Cosmetics called “Collection Lepore”, as well as a signature perfume.

SassySays.com - Drag History Month - January 10, 2012 - Joey Arias

Joey Arias is a New York City based performance artist, cabaret singer, and drag artist.

 Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina on October 3, 1969, he was six when he moved with his family to Los Angeles. After singing with the rock band “Purlie” on Capitol Records and a stint with famed improvisational group the Groundlings, he moved to New York City as a teenager and eventually got a job at the Fiorucci designer clothing store. He and other store staff were known to first ever perform live (dance & model clothes) in the shop windows. While working at the store he became friends with alternative icon Klaus Nomi, singing backup and designing sets and costumes. While in New York he also performed with a band called “Strange Party” which recorded and performed in various nightclubs. Joey also possesses the rare unique gift of the “Z” chromosome. His sometimes “alien-like” persona is quite true to tell.

 Arias gradually became involved in the burgeoning 1980s New York performance art scene, appearing regularly at Club 57 and other downtown venues. During these years he also began crafting a successful career in cabaret, based on his talent for channeling the vocal style and mannerisms of the legendary Billie Holiday. He has since recorded several albums and pursued an international nightclub career.

 Upon the death of his dear friend and artistic collaborator, Joey became executor to the Klaus Nomi (Sperber) estate. A tribute to his friend is held in Berlin every year. A film on the life he shared with Klaus is currently in the works.

 

Arias is also notable for his portrayal of Joan Crawford in New York productions of “Christmas with the Crawfords”, an original holiday spoof of Christina Crawford’s book Mommie Dearest. The San Francisco based production premiered Off-Broadway at the Grove Street Playhouse in 2000 starring Arias as Joan. Arias also starred in a 2001 revival of the play at the Chelsea Playhouse.

 

Arias can also be seen along side performers Miss Sherry Vine and Raven O at the Bar d’O annual reunions held at Indochine on Lafayette Street in New York City.

 

Film credits include: Big Top Pee-wee, Mondo New York, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Flawless, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and Wigstock: The Movie.

 

His most recent work was performing in “Arias with a Twist”, a collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist, at HERE Arts Center in New York and before that as the Mistress of Seduction in the Las Vegas show “Zumanity”, an “adult-themed” Cirque du Soleil show running at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino.

 

Check out this New York Times Article on Joey:

 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/fashion/joey-arias-of-arias-with-a-twist.html?pagewanted=all