Welcome to the Kennedoll House

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“As I sit around my Thanksgiving table in my frilly apron, gazing lovingly at my precious little angels, one thing will dominate my mind: Thank god these little MFs have me.” Photo: Katie Panzer/Digital Imaging: Maggie Zukowski

As we enter the month of “giving thanks,” I would like to take a moment to reflect on what I’m thankful for and why. I tried to think of a Princess story that I could regale you with, but quite frankly, there were no funny ones and the story of going to help the homeless is too transparent. I don’t really care for whiny people of any homeless variety, anyway.

Thanksgiving as a child was the same as everyone’s, a story of family and food, but as I got older, it became way less appealing. My siblings all started having children, and soon, holidays became like a daycare—a loud, dark place. When I moved out of state, I used my distance as an excuse to never have to attend another family Thanksgiving Day again. Luckily, my family understands and was not offended by this.

As a gay, you often end up making your own family. In mine, I am definitely the matriarch. As the Angelina of this acquired family, Thanksgiving is a day I look forward to. I love to cook, and this is the perfect day to show off my culinary talents. I don’t know what it is about this day that turns this night-clubbing diva into a sentimental ‘50s housewife, but I go all out with the formal place settings and a menu that spans the board from the vegan to the pot eater, and ends in an open house cocktail party.

The phenomenon of the gay family is called a “House” (like fashion) and it stems from the gay African/Latin American culture in New York City. Its heyday in the ‘80s is featured in the documentary, Paris is Burning (released in 1990 and available on Netflix). In its first two years of release, it won “Best Of” awards from Sundance, San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, GLADD Media, New York Film Critics Circle and L.A Film Critics Association, just to name a few.

This film is easily the most important work in cinematic history of a gay subculture. It not only explores homosexual culture, but also issues of transgender, race, AIDS and poverty. It serves as a history of syntax still used to this day, such as “fierce,” “realness,” “legendary” and “reading.” It also dives into the glamour of the competition world. It depicts “balls” where houses “walk” in segments of costumed ferocity while Voguing—long before Madonna stole it from the gays for personal gain. Finally, it explores the relationships within the surrogate families that competed in these balls.

The houses are comprised of an HOH, usually a mother, and the children of the houses are made to do some sort of trial and loyalty period in order to be accepted into said house. My house, Kennedoll House, is made up of about eight or ten misfits called the Kennedolls, who aren’t required to do anything except love, worship and pretend to hang on every word I say. Another local and more current twist on this family is Nova Starr and her Starr minions, who are basically a SLC modern-day Von Trapp family, dominating the entertainment side of the drag scene. Cities around the country have these clans working in different ways that somehow enhance a different aspect of their community. For the most part, every house stands around pretending to be hot shit, but we’re all just cold diarrhea.

It’s interesting how the dynamic of the relationships in these alternative households work. No matter how fake they may seem, people naturally fall into classic roles.

I myself would have once been horrified at the thought of being called a mother. I find the term matronly, aged and unappealing, but once I found I had wisdom to force upon others, it came quite naturally. As for my faux offspring, they have personality traits like every other unit. There is the oldest that moved away to find himself, the handsome brat that I have to nag to be nice to his siblings, the independent, the perfect and talented one I’m hardest on to be even better, the insecure pleaser, the comedian who makes all the wrong choices, momma’s little helper and the youngest/prettiest who constantly seeks my approval. Fuck me if the saying “I love them all equally” ain’t true!

On the whole, I hate children. In my opinion, babies are for shaking and teens should be starved in locked closets. Naturally, a family is something I thought I would never want, or even be afforded, for that matter. How foolish I have been to not see that a family is the perfect outlet for my ultra-alpha bossiness. As I sit around my Thanksgiving table in my frilly apron, gazing lovingly at my precious little angels, one thing will dominate my mind: Thank god these little MFs have me.

Photos:
“As I sit around my Thanksgiving table in my frilly apron, gazing lovingly at my precious little angels, one thing will dominate my mind: Thank god these little MFs have me.” Photo: Katie Panzer/Digital Imaging: Maggie Zukowski