Nea Marshall is more man than most men on this planet could even dream of being. Bebe Zahara Benet is more woman than the most voluptuous, femme, fierce glamor puss born with a vagina. Together, Bebe and Nea make up one of the most brilliant, beautiful, geniune, sweet, kind, fierce and loving people I have had the honor to meet.
Last night, David and I, after trekking to the Upper West Side to hang out with our friend Jack, and then shooting down to the East Village for gongyo with Oshen, hauled our cookies to ther Lower East Side (after a side trip to SoHo due to my poor navigation skills) for a fundraiser to celebrate the work of Ru Paul's Drag Race winner and Minnesota drag legend, Bebe Zahara Benet. We arrived to the event about a half an hour later than I expected, both of us were soaked due to the ridiculous Noahian rainstorm that had homosexuals marching two by two down Spring Street, and David was in a foul mood...cuz sugar melts in the rain and that one is sweet from crown to toe jam. And I had a cold sore forming on my lip that made me look like Oscar De La Hoya after Tito Trinidad used his jaw as a stress reliever.
We arrived to find a chic club filled with lovers and fans of Bebe. We checked in, and I had dollars ready in my hand, only to discover that Nea had put David and I and our friends on the guest list. Talk about feeling like a rock star at a party full of A Listers. Eat your heart out Kathy Griffin. The woman at the door informed me that one of my friends had arrived, and we scooted inside to find Natasha full up on the free wine from Barefoot (one of the amazing sponsors of the party). Tash had brought a gaggle of friends out to support Bebe (at least five), and for that I love her love her love her.
Now I have told David that I am known for my punctuality, and he never seems to believe me. So, when we walked in late, Tasha was about to have a fit, and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Ummm you are NEVER late. I thought your roommate had gone crazy and took an axe to you." I smiled triumphantly, and instead of assuring her I was just fine and that Jason Voorhies hadn't tried to take me out, I made her repeat her statement about my gift of punctuality to David.
I convinced her that the Dark One hadn't tried to shank us on our way out of the house. She then told me that she had met Bebe, they had bonded as kindred black girls, and then she told me I was to march directly back to the dressing room and present myself to the Lady of CamerOOOOOOOOOOOn.
I walked back, with David in tow, and squealed with joy as Bebe (all 19 feet of her) jumped up and gave me a hug and kiss. I introduced her to David, and the first thing she said was, "Why are you late? You are never late. You had us worried."
I turned a wicked smile on David and said nothing. It was enough to bask in my moment of triumphant glory.
We kissed Bebe again, and left to watch the show. Let me tell you it was BRILLIANT. Bebe is so damned elegant, such a great performer, and has such a wonderous story. So many people connect with her from some many different life paths, that it is amazing to watch an ethnic rainbow crowd scream, cheer, and clap for this amazing African immigrant.
The MC for the night was the fantastic Mimi Imfurst, who also threw down in the performance arena. But the crowning moment of the night was when Bebe took the stage and spoke to the audience. Bebe spoke from the heart about her experience as a performer, about the love she has given and recieved from her fans, and about the movie that is being done about her life. It is important to note that this documentary has been in the works (and filmed) for three years. It just so happens that Bebe won Drag Race during this time period, in all truth that was icing on the cake of her necessary documentary. In the film, she explores what it means to be a performer, a drag queen, a black man, an African immigrant, and a Cameroonian. She spoke of the need to understand the realities of queer folks in Africa, of the struggles of faith and family, and of the need to hear, again, from Drag Queens...gender queers...the people that are so often reviled yet have so often LED our movement (GOD BLESS SYLVIA RIVERA).
And she needs our help.
The film is almost completed. They are moving into the final phase of post production and final shoots. Over the next six months, the documentarian, a sweet and beautiful woman by the name of Emily Branham, will be working to finish the film and raise the $25,000 needed to get it done the right way. So many of us watched Drag Race and cheered Bebe on. The room last night was filled with fans and folks that clapped and loved her performance. Bebe has given everything to us. It is TIME for us to give back. Please give a gift to the non-profit organization that is making this film. Your gift is FULLY tax deductible. You can give online to Fractured Atlas (the folks making the film) by clicking here. For those of you that have deep pockets and the means to give in a larger way, anyone that gives a $1,000 or more will be listed in the film credits as an Associate Producer. I personally plan on giving $75-$150 a month, each month, for the next six months to support this film and Bebe's work. As a queer person of color, I NEED to see and hear the voices of people from MY community that LOOK like me that SOUND like me that KNOW what it means to move through this world as a person of color that is queer. I want queer brown kids not yet born to have a piece of their stories present and available in a way that our stories, right now, are not. If you watched Drag Race. If you cheered Bebe on. If you have been to a live show at the Town House in St. Paul or the Gay 90s in Minneapolis. If you have seen her this summer on her Absolut Vodka Pride tour. If her life, her story, or her art has touched your life. PLEASE GIVE TODAY.
I love you Nea Marshall. Thank you for the gift of joy, beauty, and realness you bring to our lives.
To see a trailer for the film, The World Needs A Bebe, please click on this link.