Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
Though it was February 2008, it seems like only yesterday that I met Grand Duchess XXXV Big D for the first time at Encore Lounge. With a twinkle in her eyes and warmth that put me instantly at ease, from the start she was like a loveable (drag) grandmother who knew our city’s rich and storied history – and was more than willing to share it, if only I’d listen.
As the reigning Grand Duchess at the time, I quizzed Big D about the San Francisco Ducal Council, its origins and why she was so dedicated to the organization. Now entering its 37th year, Big D traced the Ducal roots back nearly four decades to founder and Grand Duchess I H.L. Perry.
(Curious how she could know all this first-hand, I wanted - but didn’t dare – to ask D’s age. She reigned as the Imperial Court’s Miss Cowgirl for the first time in 1985, so you do the math!)
For an hour that afternoon, Big D and I talked, laughed and bonded. By the end of our conversation, I knew I would find out more about her and the Ducal Court on my own, and of course I did. In the weeks that followed, I started attending Ducal functions around the city.
With a strong commitment to local charities, the Ducal Council holds fundraisers nearly every Sunday at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge. Because of its Tenderloin location, which made me admittedly hesitant, I brought members of my drag family for ‘reinforcement’ when I attended those early events.
We soon found it entirely possible to enjoy ourselves outside our comfort zone, The Castro (a theory I challenge many other gays to someday test on their own).
Attracted by the fundraising aspect of the Ducal Council, my own drag mother Landa Lakes ran for Grand Duchess a year ago (which was, of course, quite well-documented in this very column). After her election, we collectively became even more involved with the Ducal Court. In many ways, it felt less like winning a drag title than marrying into an extremely colorful family.
Over dinner at the home of Grand Duke XXXIV Oliver-with-a-Twist, Landa and I listened in amazement to Big D, Grand Duchess XVII & XXXIII Collette LeGrande, Empress XXXIII Alexis Miranda and Grand Duchess XXIII & XXXIV Renita Valdez. Their wild stories, fond memories and general camaraderie reminded me of family reunions where aunts, cousins and grandparents take turns wowing the youngest family members with tales of days gone by.
Somewhere amid the story of one former Grand Duchess who was investigated for the mysterious demise of her lover and the tale of another who once sold her dentures to purchase a ticket to the Ducal Coronation (now that is dedication, honey!), I fell in love. It was then, I think, that I knew I wanted to be part of this long and truly notorious lineage of personalities who have each made their mark in San Francisco history.
So this past Sunday, as the Imperial vs. Ducal Showdown took place at Deco Lounge (which the Ducals won, by the way), I submitted my application to be the city’s next Grand Duchess. Then, as one who enjoys healthy competition – perhaps even un-healthy competition — I anxiously waited to see who else might apply.
Though there was early speculation that several others were interested in the titles as well, Patrick Noonan and I were this year’s sole applicants for Grand Duke and Grand Duchess. So this past Tuesday, after meeting with the Ducal Council’s Review Board, we were both unanimously declared official candidates for the titles.
Over the next several weeks, Patrick and I will be out and about in the community, campaigning despite running unopposed. The road to the Sept. 19 election kicks off at 4 pm on Sun., Aug. 23, at Triple Crown, when we are formally introduced as candidates.
As excited as I am to embark on this new adventure, I would be lying if I said it isn’t also scary. I have never before put myself out into the community in this manner, so I have absolutely no idea what to expect.
Luckily, as part of this new Ducal family, I am surrounded by people more than willing and all too capable of offering their experience doing the same.
To ease my mind, I think it’s time to call on that kindly old grandma for advice. I am certain Big D is more than willing to share a little insight into the matter – and I’m all too eager to listen.
Find “The Glamazon” at Facebook.com/PolloDelMar or on Twitter @TheGlamazonPDM.