The drag queen and Harlem drag ball scene icon Pepper LaBeija dἰed of heart faἰlure on May 14, 2003. She was 53 years old. Pepper LaBeija was a drag performer and fashion designer from the United States.
LaBeija was known as “the last queen of the Harlem drag balls.” The Bronx is where LaBeija was born. Although LaBeija identified as male, she favored the feminine pronoun she.
From Crystal LaBeija, from whom she takes her surname, she ascended to the throne of the House of LaBeija, the ruling organization of the ball culture, in 1981. She was the leader (known as “the Mother”) for over twenty years.
LaBeija was a regular at the drag balls, where she would perform dazzling Egyptian-themed runway shows. Throughout her career, she garnered approximately 250 trophies.
Do you know that Willi Ninja, a voguing pioneer, pἀssed away on June 8, 2006, at the age of 45? Ninja was an American dancer and choreographer, but he is most well-known for his role in the documentary film Paris Is Burning:
To make money, LaBeija produced drag balls and taught modeling. The House of LaBeija was renowned for its fashion and performance standards, and its members frequently triumph at drag balls.
In the 1990 documentary “Paris Is Burning,” which chronicled the late 1980s Harlem drag ball culture, LaBeija was featured. The film served to popularize drag ball culture, and LaBeija’s performance in the film established her as a household name.
In the years following the release of “Paris Is Burning,” LaBeija continued to perform and advocate for LGBTQ rights. She was an outspoken opponent of discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, and she worked to increase HIV/AIDS awareness.
The lengthy history of LaBeija’s health issues included dἰabetes and heart disease. She had both of her feet amputated in the late 1990s, and she spent the last decade of her life confined to bed.
The official cause of her deἀth was heart faἰlure, but it is likely that her other health issues also contributed to her pἀssing. Pepper LaBeija was an influential member of the LGBTQ community.
She was one of the first drag queens to attain mainstream success, paving the way for future drag queen generations. She was also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and campaigned to raise HIV/AIDS awareness.
Her legacy continues to influence drag queens and LGBTQ individuals worldwide. She is remembered as a ferocious competitor, a charismatic performer, and a fervent advocate for social justice.