Recently I sat down with Marcus Brown aka Natosha “Queen Champagne” from the legendary House of La Face. The Debra’s as they came to be known dominated House Ballroom culture in Seattle nearly 25 years ago.
TR: Do you remember the first time you saw Paris is Burning?
Marcus: Oh yes, I was at a meeting at POCAAN (People of Color against AIDS Network) for AIDS awareness and we watched Paris is Burning. I fell in love, it became my lifestyle, I lived it; it was something we could do. We didn’t have to answer to nobody we chose our categories. We threw the balls called our categories Butch Queen first time in drag, Butch Queen in pumps, Daytime Pussy. Bull Daggers. It was gays, lesbians and transgenders, everybody had their chance to walk.
TR: How did this all come about, your legendary status?
Marcus: We were working with POCAAN and they invited Jennie Livingston and Willie Ninja to Seattle at COCA (Center on Contemporary Art). We got to meet them. I vogued for Willie Ninja, “I got crowned by Willie, he gave me my name Queen Champagne, and got my status in the Ballroom that’s how we started, then we threw the first Ball in Seattle. Debra was the first daughter of the house we called her Lady Champagne. She got that name cuz she was working at POCAAN under the name Vanna Black, she called the numbers for Gay Bingo at Temple de Hirsch. We were the first house, threw the first Ball and Seattle got excited about it and the children started learning.
TR: A lot of the younger kids don’t even know about Paris is Burning.
Marcus: Ya know it’s a shame. Now a days there’s not as much unity in the community as there was back then. Back in the day you had a place to go one day a week. We had TUGS to go to. We knew we could go jack and be amongst the girls, the only thing on our minds was to listen to a fierce beat and lettin’ em’ have it. Riz wants to get something going.
TR: A Ball? I mention to Marcus that there is the House of Charlatan and that it would be fun to include them as well.
Marcus: “We need to have a Legends Ball to bring everyone together. I’ll be there to represent, giving them Ellen Tracy, good livin’ with Elizabeth Arden.”