On Drag Mothers, Mentors, and Halloween

This week marks the birth of both Juanita MORE! and Glamamore.

There is a rich history of celebrating Halloween. I liked it as a kid because it gave me the chance to be someone else and play dress-up — classic movie monsters were my favorite, and they still are.

Halloween on Polk Street, 2019 / Photo by Gooch

The most spooktacular thing about Halloween in the queer community is that it is the birth night for many first-timer baby drag queens. Talk about horror running through the streets! So beware of the motherless baby queens yelling at you from down the road.

Nowadays, since drag has gone mainstream, you can watch a makeup tutorial on YouTube to learn the trade tricks. However, there is something special about learning to do those things from someone you admire and love.

This week marks the birth of both Juanita MORE! and Glamamore. In total, we have spent 69 years in drag and onstage.

Glamamore & Juanita MORE! artwork for TARC Benefit by Jim Winters, 2006

Glamamore is originally from New York City and is considered the mother of the Boy Bar Beauties, a drag family that performed weekly in the East Village from 1984–1992. She achieved drag superstar status, performing at venues large or small and events such as Wigstock, Pride, and countless AIDS benefits.

When living in New York, I went to the club BoyBar to see the drag show. I remember making my way through the crowd towards the front of the stage. I looked up and saw a queen that was demanding every bit of my attention. She captivated me in a way that no other queen had, and for a moment, I felt as though I had never seen drag before. I knew right then and there that I would someday become friends with that person onstage. The MC asked us to give her a big round of applause and introduced her as “The Hog Queen of Lip-Sync — Glamamore.”

We officially met a year later and have been friends ever since.

Princess Diandra, Glamamore & Connie Girl / John Simmons Photography, the late 80s

It wasn’t until the week of Halloween in 1992 that Glamamore first put me in drag — “You’re gonna be ugly,” she said. Well, I am not. And, I loved it.  As a kid, I had a couple of cousins who took good care of the little queer in me — but in my drag world as an out adult, it was and still is Mr. David Glamamore.

Now —, she, him, they are my mother, father, brother, sister, and best friend-thing all rolled into one. Together we‘ve created more art than I could have ever imagined or can keep track of, stood side by side when the light was dark, laughed each other to tears over things that would scare the shit out of most people, and most importantly, remind each other of our worth every day on this earth. Our drag mother-and-daughter relationship has given me the utmost respect for what I do when wearing a wig. She is now lovingly referred to as ‘Granny’ by the family.

‘Drama’ drag show image by Kent Taylor, 1994

I am very fortunate to have grown up with a drag mother who still inspires and influences me and everyone around her. Now with all her extended years of experience and mentorship, she is here for all queers and allies as they come to San Francisco and step their toes into the vibrant nightlife.

Glamamore & Juanita MORE! by Shot In The City Photography

If you are out this weekend, remember to party safely and take care of your chosen family that surrounds you.

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