The Current Reign—Reign XXX
H.M.I.S.M. Emperor XXV Tree
Fredd E Tree, know to family, friends and most people around the globe simply as TREE, was born in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York in 1939 to parents of Russian and Ukraine heritage. In 1967, Tree moved into an apartment in the Chelsea section of New York where he still lives today!
Tree spent his formative years working as a newspaper delivery boy, a movie house usher and a cashier. Although he had hoped to follow in his father’s footsteps as a shepherd — no easy task in the Big Apple — Tree would go on to work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange; as a salesman in the exciting new world of cable television; and as a doorman at a local watering hole. One day, the owner and manager of that establishment asked him if he would like to be a bartender. Tree’s answer — “I never made a drink and I don’t drink!” With a laugh, he was handed a bar rag and told he’d soon learn to do both. Forty-six years later, Tree is now known around the world as the affable bartender at the landmark Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street.
His status behind the bar isn’t what makes the Stonewall Inn so important to Tree. It was at that bar, in June of 1969, that Tree became a witness to, no, a part of our collective history. Police raids of gay establishments were not rare in those days, and despite having been through many such raids of the known gay bars, Tree and his friends, Charlie and Frank, had no idea that their night of dancing at the Stonewall Inn was going to put them right in the middle of the raid of all raids. They broke windows; threw rocks and bottles at the fearful police barricaded inside; and freed a paddy wagon full of their compatriots. They had no fear that night: luckily, none of them was arrested.
Because of his involvement in the Stonewall Riots, Tree has been interviewed by CNN, television stations all over the New York Metro area, countless newspapers and magazines and even by newspapers and television stations around the globe. Tree has been a featured subject of a few documentaries. He has been Grand Marshall of a number of pride parades and has been an honored guest at the opening of several LGBTQ centers. Tree has given lectures at numerous high schools and colleges across the country on the history of gay life before the Stonewall Riots. He has been honored by several states, Stonewall United Kingdom, the New York City Council, and New York State Senators. Today, he can still be found behind the bar at The Stonewall Inn. He has no intention of retiring anytime soon.
Tree’s title is The Double Eagle Stonewall Emperor of Samovars, Samba & Sensibility.
H.M.S.I.M. Empress XXX Sugar B. Real
Sugar B. Real is one of six children, born and raised on the island of Trinidad and Tobago. As a middle child, Sugar had to talk over the older children and be cuter than the younger children so that she wouldn’t get lost in the crowd. Her home was full of love and laughter. It was a place where everyone wanted to be, and where everyone was always welcome. Sugar’s parents were hardworking and selfless people. But they were also very social, and when they got dressed it was always a production. They were flawless. Her mother had a closet that would rival any Court queen. Sugar would watch them in amazement. To her, they were the most beautiful people—mind, body and soul. It is from them that Sugar gets her heart, drive and sense of style.
Sugar was introduced to the LGBT community thirty years ago by a friend. She remembers him coming out to her on the dance floor of the Tunnel nightclub. Her response was “Girl, you have nothing to say that I don’t already know.” He is still one of her best friends. Through him, Sugar met a number of people in the community—a second family. It was the ’80s and they partied—Private Eyes, Roxy, Tunnel and Limelight. God, they had fun! They shared a studio apartment in a six-floor walkup on Perry Street. He became a nurse specializing in HIV/AIDS research at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Together, they experienced personal and devastating losses as many of their friends had been diagnosed, were dying or had died because of the AIDS Epidemic.
Sugar wanted to help the community that had embraced her and had become such a large part of her life. She signed up for the AIDS ride, New York to Boston, trained for six months and raised over $6,000.
In 2001, she was invited to volunteer at God’s Love We Deliver. Going down the back elevator to the kitchen became her ritual every Tuesday for five years.
In 2006 she was introduced to The Imperial Court of New York. This was Sugar’s “ah ha” moment! Her worlds had just collided: her love for dressing up and her desire to give back. Sugar went from a hair net to a tiara in a New York minute.
Sugar dove right in and began to plan her first fundraiser. She quickly rose through the ranks, eventually being named Niece to Queen Mother of the Americas, Nicole the Great. As a ten-year member, Sugar was deeply inspired by meeting Empress José I, the founder of the Imperial Court System. Hearing her sing “God Save Us Nelly Queens” at Emperor Norton’s grave, spending time with her, and having her say to Sugar that regardless of gender, race, age or sexual preference we are all here to fight the same fight. For Sugar it is important that “we” are heard, seen and treated with dignity
The Imperial Court of New York made history by electing Sugar as empress—our first female empress. With love and respect for the ICNY and its accomplishment, Sugar is known as The Timeless Black Diamond and Pearl Empress in the place where her heart, soul and family live.