Category Archives: Narratives

Maria Shriver Best Buddies Benefit

What are we going to do about Maria?

Maria Shriver is an extraordinary woman on many levels. I had first met her when Stuart Milk took me to the Hollywood Hall of Fame awards in Sacramento while she was still First Lady. I was impressed by her stage presence and elegance, while inwardly reeling from a burgeoning scandal that would embarrass even Hilary Clinton!

The second time we met was at the Montage in Beverly Hills, my company DMK International being one of the major donors. It was like a Phoenix rising from ashes! Here was a brand new Maria! A little subdued, but a project in the making! Defiantly a woman with an agenda! She was very gracious to me and invited me to a VIP ” ice creme tasting” in the penthouse bar of the Montage!

I was taken back by the Kennedy-esque beauty of her children! Everyone of them had that casual “old money” style of people who have been brought up in spotlights, especially the powerful spotlight of politics. The handsome youngest boy came over to the table where Beverly Hills journalist and girl friend Marci Weiner and I were sitting and said ” Miss can I bring you Ladies some ice Creme?” We had to laugh, this kid was soooo polite and serious! I shared the lift up to the penthouse with Maria, and she looked at me and said…

“I love your hair!” Shocked, I blurted out “it’s a wig, but I love YOURS!”

“Nooo” she exclaimed “it looks so real!” And then her sunglasses fell off her face and broke at my red platform shoes with black lacquered heels. I picked them up, handed them to her and said “oh what a shame”. “Never mind,” she replied in that young Katherine Hepburn voice, “they only cost $19.00 at the Cape!” I nearly cracked up…who else would buy $19.00 sunglasses at the Cape?”

Emerald Kingdom sent a donation to Maria Shriver Best Buddies, her challenged children charity and I received a gracious letter from her thanking me.

The following year I was invited, along with my entourage back to the Montage. This time Marci and I were escorted by the handsome Yale Scott of DMK and his fiancée Dr.Bobby of The Spa on Rodeo, both companies donating to the event.

Maria looked more sensational than ever–more outgoing, longer thick hair swinging down the back of a very edgy, trendy outfit! Her speech was both compelling and forceful, melting the hardest heart and tightest pocketbook. Her passion for the many kids whose lives have been changed because of her work was real and heartwarming.

I had kept up with Marci this time by having TWO martini’s, thus emboldened by booze I rushed up to her after the speech and embarrassed myself by barking out “Maria you are an idiot if you don’t run for office!”

Startled she gave me an odd look as her people swept her away, but I meant every word.

Here is a woman who has had the inside of politics all her life, she has headed many foundations, owns three businesses and is back in the media. She has survived marital scandal with grace and aplomb and is raising a large family of future great Americans. And she looks terrific! In my mind she could be First Lady again, but on the East coast this time..on her own

Hmmmmmmm!

Loni Anderson Star Crossed

Star Crossed!

Occasionally I run into a Diva who turns out to be a very nice person.. The top of my list being CHER! My dear friend mega talent Jimmy James invited me to a concert one night at La Boheme in West Hollywood. As I entered the portico of the restaurant club a Rolls Royce screeched to a stop on the street outside and a man yelled “is it YOU?”

Knowing who he meant…never-the-less I called back “Si darling, grazi!”

We were all sitting at a head table when bombshell Loni Anderson walked in with her manager and husband. The manager kept staring at me and finally came over and said ” I have worked with Sophia Loren and you are incredible!”

She informed me that Loni and her husband wanted a photo with me, flattered I walked over to the couple for photo snaps… Suddenly the entire room came alive with lights flashing like a paparazzi convention!

Loni close up looked amazing,her porcelain skin was flawless and her manner very, very ladylike. I was amused by two things in this occasion. 1. Feeling like a real movie legend posing with a real star with applauding people (so Hollywood) 2. Getting cat calls from a Rolls by mistaken identity, people see what they want to see.

And oh—- I was probably mistaken, but when Loni’s husband put his arm around my waist I could have SWORN his hand did a little pat on my a—-!

Probably my imagination.

Respect for Queen Mother Nicole

Since our Kingdom’s conception, I’ve taken on several roles—some, I admit, not so willingly as others—but seldom the role of author, I’ve mostly left the writing to Liz. I convinced myself years ago that my opinions really had no place here—not on just our website, I mean the planet.

I “came out” very late in my life. Fact is, my “becoming” on the outside whoever I am on the inside is still a constant learning. If a book on my life were ever written like the one I’d envision, an extreme turning point would coincide with my introduction to “the people” representing the Imperial Court System, and by the increasingly popular Liz Loren of the time, who just so happened by at a restaurant in Long Beach after the courts annual Booze Cruise charity event.

Few people know, the man my heart belongs to and husband, I met for the first time while he was in full costume, or drag if you’d prefer.

From my first attendance and exposure at a Long Beach coronation escorting Liz Loren, I realized a type of acceptance and respect I never knew existed hidden in conversations I’d overhear and shown in gestures and postures surrounding me.

To an outsider, as it were, all “drag queens” seem the same. Men in dress.

Sorry, but that’s really what unfamiliar people likely would agree with on first impression, knowing nothing of diversity in people, lifestyle, or–more pointedly–life. Granted, some drag queens convincingly wear these alter female persona’s, but no matter if it’s the dignified Queen Mother of All the Americas, Nicole Murray Ramirez, or a drag queen who’s had one ever to many—clothes dripping off, wig backwards, hands freely gripping stranger’s butts as they pass with verbal trash spewing from their smeared lip-sticked mouth and no respect for anyone—regardless, you are “all alike” and, understandably, “all represent” one another to those who don’t know or understand drag.

Were it not for my husband, back in the day, I would certainly not be attending ANY drag event—ever. With each discouragement I encountered along my way, from one court event to the next, year after year, he was my sounding board of reason and my crutch over the hurts from frailties in a community and lifestyle as I came to know it in my own terms. He welcomed me and was my cornerstone into an unknown, almost fairytale life, far above prejudices and judgements of people of any kind.

Relentlessly exposing me to seeing the magic as he sees it in a rejuvenated growing drag community, courts and elegance, glamour and fellowship, time and again, excusing the crudeness and simple-mindedness of those inebriated and those mean spirited. For a man who seems to have an ego larger than life, past his façades, there really is none. Ego too can protect us from aspects in life where we are most vulnerable, and in the case of my husband, it is his completely trusting heart to any and everyone at stake. By his spirited example, same is true for Queen Mother Nicole, Nicole Murray Ramirez.

If her name brought you to sneakier just now, then it is exactly YOU I am speaking to.

For anyone being a stickler, it is blatantly easy to research and read up on Nicole’s history of dedication and monumental achievements over her lifetime in equality for anyone who makes an actual effort.

What is not so obvious—maybe to some—are those people I regrettably witness at events judging Nicole, taunting her in the background, perpetuating hateful gossip, sitting in discontent and disrespect for whatever (get over yourself) reason, when—ironically—they had literally not even learn to walk while she was bravely “out” and changing the world they now are free to be themselves in. It breaks my heart, they should be ashamed, and so should we that tolerate it–we both fail.

Nicole01deSanDiegoI’ve met already many legendary people in my time, celebrated leaders and artist who epitomize heroes in human history on this planet, giants who leave a blazing trail of successfully changing lives and directions of everyone and everything around them, like comets plunging into drifting meteors. Giants like Nicole walk among us now and often people never realize they are witnessing something bigger than themselves, someone already written about in history books, paving the way for generations of self respecting people and more giants to follow.

Nicole is a colossal spirit, wise and insightful, determined and fruitful in what she does. I admire her unwavering pursuit to make a difference in our lives and futures and in a more magnificent big picture than one of us standing alone could ever see.

And, I cringe when I see disrespect toward anyone at a court event, whether new comer or dinosaur, all and all from who YOU now must realize are, the most ignorant and least respected among us.

Dame Edna Everage Farewell

There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame” was a hit song from South Pacific years ago and Barry Humphrey’s, Australian actor and comedian, took it literally for over 40 years strutting the stage and our TV sets as the irascible and irreverent (and I mean that kindly possums) Dame Edna Everage.

Never has drag, outside of the incomparable Charles Pierce, been more mainstream and has been endeared to the hearts of many as a “real person”.

When I first saw Dame Edna appearing on the Tonight Show hosted by Joan Rivers, I actually thought it was one of those tall, horsey British women who I actually knew in person ,not realising I would create an alternate personae as Liz Loren decades later!

IMG_2479 (copy)Her clever humor as a zany, elegant mega star had its own special twist as she Don Rickeled her way into our hearts and homes with a wardrobe that Liberace would envy. I was privileged to catch her very last performance at age 80 at the Ahmenson theatre in Los Angeles January 31st 2015. Yes, her steps were a little slower–no more long legged high kicks. Yes, her high jinks were a little lower.

But the razor sharp wit and the extemporaneous way she worked the crowd was still spot on target as she made fun of all and sundry (in the nicest possible way).

There will never be another Dame, an era has passed, but we will still watch her television series Dame Edna’s Neighbourhood Watch, laugh our heads off and be grateful that Madge did not come to OUR house!

Cher Final Concert & Tour

I was looking forward to the Cher Final Concert Tour even more than her previous tour 11 years before…except this time I had personal reason.

Cher was wearing my DMK Foundations of Skin and the special colours and stick application I had created for her! Her thank you text was wild and wonderful as only a woman like her would write! I have utmost respect for this Lady! We are in the same age group, and like Cher, I often have to appear in front of large groups, always expected to be fabulous and “on” and we always deliver. Except her fame is equal to Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

Pop Divas come and go…now days quickly! But every person on this planet alive today has heard of CHER! When I went to TIBET and saw my photo on the side of a building I was amazed, but few there on that day would remember who the person in the white suit name was! The smallest kid would remember CHER!

Backstage at the concert she was endlessly posing for a long queue of people in full entrance costume. As Czar Drue and I approached the Diva I could see the fatigue in the back of her eyes! As I circled her soft waist and hugged her, she suddenly seemed fragile and vulnerable! But on-stage a few moments later the powerhouse-bigger-than-life hurricane was there again! Her voice had a newer quality, richer, more intimate! She let her dancers do all the mad frenetics while she ambled and reached for our hearts!

As she flew in the finale over all of our heads on a Jewelled platform, she gazed down with a nearly saintly benediction, the voice souring over a crazed crowd of screaming old fans and new ones made that night!

One more time—-with feeling!

Dinner With Jose Sarria

I actually met the Founder of the International Imperial Court System last Christmas holidays at a cocktail party at our Imperial Crown Prince, Stefan Hemming’s Palm Springs home.

Jose Sarria was elegant and quietly Imperial in black with a single strand of matched pearls and a face that defied his 87 years on the planet.

Behind glasses, his eyes were sharp, all seeing and calm–eyes that have seen a thousand things that the young gay people of today only hear about during the long journey to equality and diversity. This man was there fighting for our rights before Stonewall and Harvey Milk and he was doing it in lavish court gowns and tiaras!

IMG_0475I knew I presented an enigma to Jose’ what with the nation wide controversy of my titles and position–he had seen Liz several times, but we never met in person until that evening, and there was an instant understanding and bond–and most of all, an exchange of humor.

We talked about dining out sometime in the future, but my global travel and business–something I should have retired from a few years ago–would not let me go. Finally, I decided to have the dinner up at Aerie Hall, my mountain top retreat, at the same time some old friends from Norway and Spain were arriving for a visit.

Coco Lashine, The Dragon Empress of New York, long time LA resident and past president of the ICC, accompanied Jose’ ( dare I say as a Lady in waiting?) but actually Coco is someone else I have gotten to know, love and respect, BOTH monarchs regaled our guests with history and anecdotes that fascinated all and sundry!

IMG_0485Television star and film Actress Thea Gill (“Queer as Folk” Lyndsay Peterson) was on hand as well as Empress 12 of Los Angeles Imperial Court Lonnie (always the girlfriend who helps) the Emerald Kingdom’s Court Advisor. Czar Drue played the incomparable and handsome host as always and we dined al fresco by the pool on grill poached Alaskan Salmon, pecan risotto, field salad, Italian grilled squash (home grown and tossed in marinara) Veuve Cliquot champagne was served (Jose’ a non-drinker had a “sip”) and flan cake with fresh fruit for desert.

The conversation was rich in wit and history and some surprising humor and animation from The Dragon Empress who is normally stoic and somewhat reserved. Still waters!

Talking with Jose’ is like talking to your best friend, your mother and an actual ruler in a real monarchy. His advice is always to the point, his opinions carefully thought out (and often unshakable) and his observation of human nature clear and uncluttered by prejudice.

I often ask advice from people when in a quandary, but end up following my own instinct. Jose’ is one person I would ask advice from, listen to it and follow it to the letter. Things in the world changing so fast and the Internet shrinking the planet. I had a feeling that at this time of his life he may be wondering if he needs to be visible in the Court System much anymore?

I would say to Jose’ that fundamentals do NOT change–only technology and things being dressed up in new cloaks! His presence, which is iconic and even an occasional extemporaneous speech–such as the one he gave last year at New York’s Victory Breakfast–still galvanizes and inspires and reminds us all why the whole thing was started in the first place!

I have seldom enjoyed such a fine summer evening as the one last week with Jose’.