was given a thoughtful send-off today on 1010 WINS - that traffic radio station! I believe they mentioned that "he" was a New York legend as on of the originators of ball culture. It was well done, although they kept pronouncing his name "la baya".
Could someone add more light to this story, i never met pepper.But, she was most definitely RULING! Any icon of her stature should be given a proper send off. They sure don't make them like that anymore!
The performer who used the stage name Pepper LaBeija as a glamourous queen of The Harlem drag balls immortilized in the 1991 documentary "Paris Is Burning" died on May 14 at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. She, as she preferred to be called was 53. A woman who answered the telephone at her mother's home but who would not identify herself said the cause of the death was a heart attack. LaBeija ( pronounced La-BAY-zha) appeared proudly in luxurient female garb that was often golden and glittering, and referring to herself in feminine terms, her friend Marcel Christian LaBeija said. Marcel's given name is Herman Williams but the last name of LaBeija is used by all members of the House Of LaBeija, the group of performers Pepper led. When Pepper LaBeija was not onstage, she was Wialliam Jackson of the Bronx, who sometimes dressed as a man. Pepper was the last of the four great queens of the Harlem balls: Angie Extravaganza, Dorien Corey and Avis Pendavis all died in recent years. These four exuded a sort of wild expressionism that might make Las Vegas showgirls seem tame. " This is the end of the golden age." said Brian Latelme, a photographer who has covered the balls. The House Of LaBeija was one of the first houses founded in 1970. The female impersonator who first led it, thought the name sounded glamourous. Pepper took over in 1971 or 1972 Marcel said. Pepper LaBeija was called "Mother"; the house's younger members were " the children". "A house is a family for those who don't have a family." LaBeija said in the movie. Marcel LaBeija and Latelme said that Pepper was also survived by a son and daughter, but did not know their names. LaBeija had diabetes, which had led to the ambutation of both feet, and had been bedridden for most of the last decade. She last performed at a ball in 2001, when 30 attendents delivered her on a litter to the crowd's jubilation. " Her specialty was the Egyptian effect." Macel LaBeija said. Pepper LaBeija was a legend to the the members and patrons of the Harlem Ball scene, a world of extravegant make believe that crosses sexual bonderies and that was chronicled in " Paris Is Burning" directed by Jenny Livingston. In an interview, Livingston spoke of Pepper's " glamourous bravado" that stood out in a flock of Marilyn Monroes. The public also glimpsed the ball scene in a Madonna video that featured voguing, a highly stylized and posed dance form used in the balls. Voguing was also featured at The Love Balls, which were held at Roseland in 1989 and 1990 and drew top fashion inductry figures.
She would have loved that they mentioned her name 15 times in this article. I'll miss her. Bobby
That Times piece is major. My mother (Angie Xtravaganza) would GAG to see her name in The Times like that. I hope she sees it. I also saw on the CNN clicker at the bottom of the tv screen... "Harlem Ball House legend Pepper LeBeija dead at 53 of heart attack". unbelievable.
There are only a couple of the old girls left. They will be at Pepper's memorial I'm sure. I guess Candi LeBeija is the reigning queen now.
I think that Miss Pepper's memorial is going to be June 12 at the Gay & Lesbian center @ 7:00 PM. (But remember, I'm an Xtravaganza and have been known to get dates, times and places all wrong) I'll double check and let everyone know.
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