Bring On the Men!
A little known, underpublicized fact: The Imperial Court of New York’s founding in 1985 was driven by a man who didn’t do drag: Emperor I George Dudley!
Though people may first think of drag queens when they think of the Imperial Court System, it shouldn’t be too far a stretch before they also think of Emperors and the male line: after all, our system is based on male and female presentation, and a good balance is everything.
In fact, many of our male line monarchs out shine and out glitter their Empresses! It’s not OUR fault: we do our best, but there are so many more places to hang rhinestones on a man! Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking shoulders — we often wear gowns that wouldn’t support this much jewelry!
Despite its founding as a group of drag queens, the very idea that we’re Imperial comes from a man, the legendary Joshua Abraham Norton, a San Franciscan who declared himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico” in 1859. He lived with that style until his death in 1880 and became a San Francisco legend. When Jose Sarria was crowned Queen of the Tavern Guild in 1965, she declared herself Empress I Jose, The Widow Norton, picking up on the joke that Joshua began a century earlier. In fact, she’d often speak to Joshua from the stage when crowning a pair of their new “children.”
It doesn’t matter your gender or your gender presentation: everyone gets puts in the work, raises the money, gets blinged up and celebrated at the Imperial Court of New York!