From the moment I first met Alyson Thomas, too many years ago to mention, I took a liking to her. Years later when we got together to resurrect the Miss Florida F.I. Pageantry System (along with Victor Zepka and Gary Santis) we spent so much time together she has become a member of my family. My hope is that you will love “Momma Bear” (her nickname) as much as I do after reading this feature.
What was the first drag show you saw and tell me about the experience?
My first show was at the legendary Sweet Gum Head in Atlanta, GA. The year was 1974 I believe. What made it so captivating was the sequins, rhinestones, and realness of the cast. I remember my mind flooding with questions, and trying to figure out how the girls did what they did to look that way. Of course, I had no idea about hormones, silicone, surgery, being allowed to live as a woman, let alone become one. I didn’t know how to do hair, makeup, sew, or pad, so seeing all this made me want to go back every night to learn and become part of the crowd.
When did you decide you wanted to do drag and when did you realize it would be a profession?
I decided to venture into the idea of playing in women’s clothes at age 14, sneaking out of my window into the alley behind my home in Brooklyn, NY and seeing the hot and sexy Puerto Rican boys that lived in my neighborhood. By 18, I started collecting “drag” of my own. I would play and read magazines and look at pictures to learn makeup and hairstyles. I didn’t have someone to “paint” me and I had no gay friends, and I wouldn’t dare tell anyone my secret. It was taboo. Throughout my 20’s and 30’s I concentrated on my education, my career and trying to be accepted in the business world. I knew I was “gay” but it couldn’t come out in school, at work or around my family. For me, at that time, drag wasn’t an option only a weekend secret. I would enter “talent shows” to get bookings so I could be on the stage. Drag became serious for me around 34-35, when I felt I had achieved success in my career, I owned a home, had a stable support group of “queens” and although it remained a secret, when I dressed I never let those people in the nightlife see the other side of me – the daytime version. By the mid 1980’s I was getting calls to be in shows because I weighed under 100 lbs. and looked like a female.
Who is your drag mother and who is your favorite queen other than your drag mother and why?
I never really had a “drag mother” as the girls have these days. I had role models and they molded me, helped me and encouraged me. The legendary Billie Boots and Mickey Day paved the road for me to start my career. A very talented queen who was much younger than me, Crystal Lambega, taught me more than any other entertainer at that time. She showed me how to shine on stage, how to lip sync and how to as she said “sell your goods and make your coins”. Crystal did puppet skits that were so entertaining to me she was a Broadway/Las Vegas star.
I would have to say my favorite entertainer is Carmella Marcella Garcia. Not only has she always kept me laughing with her humor and sincerity, but as a human being no one has been so down to earth honest, humble and genuine with me from day one.
Through personal struggles and demons, to family and pageantry, George T. has always been a phone call, a text, an email or a plane ride away. I owe my roots in South Florida to two people, Danny Villar and Carmella Marcella Garcia.
What’s your favorite number to perform and why?
My favorite number to perform is “Never Been to Me” by Charlene. The song’s meaning touches my heart and my dear sister Lola Lush gave me the CD when the movie “Priscilla Queen of the desert” came out and it was the title song to the movie. It has been a money maker for me and it makes me feel good when I hear it.
What differentiates you from other Queens (Makes you Unique)?
What makes me unique is my sense of style. Class, stature and style come from within. I molded my style off of the classic simplistic straight lines of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Women like Lucille Ball and Jaqueline Kennedy had the look that I wanted to achieve. My name, my style, my circle of closely chosen sisters and the choices I make in life on and off the stage, in and out of the spotlight and the choice I choose to stay young and active and surround myself around happy, unique and entertaining people. I could care less about keeping up with the Jones’s – Give me a closet full of shoes.
What does the future hold?
The future holds a lot for me. With the help of my support system, and my positive outlook on life, I hope to achieve a national pageant title. I also plan to expand on my pageant businesses and desire to educate, employ and nurture up and coming entertainers and lead them on the path to a successful life in the art-form of female impersonation, coupled with learning an important lesson in our life style – “Moderation” it’s the key to survival.
Why we love her!
- She has helped so many entertainers achieve their dreams.
- With a nick name like “Momma Bear” how can you not love her!
- Instrumental in bringing back the Miss Florida F.I. Pageantry System
- She has more shoes than Imelda Marcos