What were you up to 20 years ago? I had to think about it for a while; I was working for San Francisco Opera, and during the off season I would work in the cavernous costume warehouse cataloging thousands of costumes. It was one of those jobs that the longer you, took the longer you had the job. While my superior sat playing craze of ‘on-line poker’ I daydreamed over the Versace and Mackie gowns that littered the shop. I daydreamed of finding one that fit, but mostly pulled inspiration (and a couple hundred dollars worth of notions) to create my many club kid lewks.
I was the the new small-town kid in the big city. I was Gen X-ing, Ab-Fabing and Spice-Girling. I changed my hair color daily and lived for Tuesday night where I’d club until Wednesday morning at Trannyshack. I was young, gorgeous, wild as fuck, popular and mostly just dumb. Meanwhile two states over in my hometown was a change I wish I could have witnessed for myself, a change in a system that I was running away from.
The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire was something I couldn’t even say, not without a hiss. Without getting to much into it, I was crowned Miss Gay Pride Salt Lake City ’92 and had an unfortunate experience that left a sour taste in my mouth that sent me fleeing the organization, my title and anything that was associated with it, anywhere! The queens were cunty bitches and if I couldn’t be the prettiest and most popular then I wasn’t going to play!
Shortly after I left 20 years ago, unbeknownst to me, a friend from my teen years Ralph Currington — aka Sheneka Christie — took the throne aside Peter Christie to make one of the most prolific reigns in the almost 40 years that the court had existed.
Flash forward to 2010 when I rejoined the populace behind the Zion curtain. I came back with a bad taste in my mouth and found the tired scene being regurgitated to the masses, but it wasn’t long before I realized that above all the glitter and feathers is something that, in my misspent youth, was completely over my head: A small community of bighearted individuals that work tirelessly to give back to the community — actually, fuck that, they work tirelessly to give to the community!
I admit that I was 100 percent to self absorbed in my misspent youth comprehend what the court even did. I know and will attest that to an outsider it all may seem like a bunch of trivial bullhockey, but unfortunately what we tend to see with the drama and infighting, well, it comes from mostly the new and endlessly flawed crop of new queens that come in with a chip on their shoulder from a damaged upbringing who have no social experience other than fighting with their siblings. Granted it makes for a great night at the Trapp but let’s keep in mind of the greater good.
When I asked the Christies what they were most proud of in that reign of years ago, collectively they agreed it was the education fund they set up. Imagine what they have done for over 20 people in the past who were given the gift of education. One thing that sucks from our generation (and earlier) was the lack of opportunity for many a talented lesbian or gay. We were still considered degenerates and no one really paid much attention to us, let alone show concern for our future.
“With the start of the Education Fund,” Peter said, “we have been able to give literally thousands of dollars to LGBT recipients to further their education.” Education is something obviously very important to Emperor Christie as his day job is director of education for Ballet West. Incidentally, spreading joy and philanthropy was the easy part of the yearlong reign, the royal couple was expected to fly around the country, almost bi-monthly and mostly on their dime, being ambassadors for our state, at the same time when he was a Primo Ballerina for Ballet West. I can’t image which aged this silver fox faster?
When asked what all she was proud of the EF Sheneka didn’t have to think about the answer. The crown she designed that they still use to this day, the out-of-state friendships she’s foraged and held onto for many years, and the family she’s built out of it. Anyone will tell you if there is one person that has done more than any other it is Empress XXX, the mother of the court — long live Sheneka Christie. Now, honey, I ain’t one to gossip but we agreed that the one regret she had was some of her outfit choices. Alas, that’s another article.
The main regret for Peter, not that it’s a regret, but hardship from the reign until now, is that was the year our friends started dropping like flies from the AIDS virus. “We’ve had to experience a prolific and grievous loss of many friends and colleagues over the year,” which at the end of the day is the cause for which the Court does the most good. So if you naysayers and eyerollers are part of the bareback/creampie set you might want to watch your Ps and Qs.
Both agree that for the new queens discovering the RCGSE that yes, it is fun and fierce and pretty but you need to remember there is a human side that is bigger than even you.
Bravo to the Court, Congrats Your Royal Hineys, you made me find humility and respect!
For a fun trip down Salt Lake’s drag “hersory” and all the details of the Coronation XLI held over Memorial weekend, visit rcgse.org.