Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Drag History Continues- The Imperial Court

The Imperial Court of New York is a social, fundraising organization which has raised and donated back into the community millions of dollars to both social and health support organizations. In addition to their own fundraising, they often lend support and talent to other organizations in their ventures by performing, selling raffles, or just adding beauty and style. The mission of the Imperial Court is to raise funds for organizations including those supporting the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered community, HIV/AIDS services and youth enrichment programs. It was all started in 1984 by it's founder, Empress I Jose, the Widow Norton she declared herself, starting the long line of Emperors and Empresses since then.

Empress I Jose, is recognized around the world as one of the pioneers of the gay and transgender movements of modern times,and a major figure of study in gay and lesbian studies in colleges across the country. Empress VII, Coco LaChine,the Celestial Dragon Empress is currently Heir Apparent.

Coco's visibility and tireless activism have made her one of New York's most popular and respected drag queens. The membership is broad and varied from carpenters, therapists, florists, jewelers, performers, retail workers and many more,and they all enjoy the "game"of court and royalty such as being Lord and Ladies, Dukes and Duchesses, and Prince and Princesses all for much needed monies and social awareness. Hell, fellow blogger Empress Beth already has a title so she would fit right in. The biggest night in the drag world is The Imperial Court's Night of a Thousand Gowns. The first one was in 1985 and under the reign of Empress Sybil, and was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria. Since then it's moved locations but is always a very up-scale event and will cost $300 and up for tickets for the whole evening and usually $125 at the door for entry after all the opening acts and dinner. Night of a Thousand Gowns is every March, and besides the big hair, bigger jewels, and the biggest regal attire you can find, it is a chance for the hundreds of drag queens and their men to show off their finery while fund raising thousands for the community. If you ever have a chance to go even once it is a wonderful evening you won't forget!


  1. When I first moved to NYC, the Night of 1000 Gowns was held on the same night as the annual Black Party. The venues were just a few blocks apart, and I always wondered how many of the Court members/guests traded their formalwear for leather and attended the Black Party after dinner/dancing.

    I have never attended the Night of 1000 Gowns, but I have heard it's a wonderful evening.


  2. I have always wanted to go to this,but seem to never find the time. And what a good cause!

  3. What a wonderful thing to post about durning Drag History month. Lots of queens heard of the Imperial Court, but thought it was just a drag show. But it raises more money than any other chartiy in the gay communtity. I have attended numerous times and it really is unlike anything I have ever attended. One year I had two wigs created together plus extensions to make my up-do.It weighed 9lbs when done plus the huge gown and chocker. By the end of the night I was exhasted! Thanks again for posting this girl!

  4. Mamie- It wouldn't surprise me in the least if queens did a quick wardrobe change and then went to both events. Get your frock ready tootes. I think we will go in March and take the place by storm and we will take the Empress Beth I-the Dust Bunny Empress with us! We will have her dripping in furs and rhinestones!!!


  5. Maddie -

    That sounds like a plan to me!


  6. We would love to have you come to Night of a Thousand Gowns on March 21, 2009 at the Marriott Marquis. LIFEbeat - The Music Industry Fights AIDS is the beneficary this year & Miss Joan Rivers will be in attendance. Join us & visit our website at www.icny.org

  7. We would love for all of you to attend Night of a Thousand Gowns on Saturday, March 21, 2009 at the Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square. This year all the money goes to LIFEbeat - The Music Industry Fights AIDS. In attendance this year will be the one & only Joan Rivers! Visit our website at www.icny.org for more info & put the "FUN" back into fundraising!!
    All the best Emperor X Gabriel Della Notte
    President of the Imperial Court of New York

    PS great pictures...even one of me!!

  8. Just found your excellent blog on a Google Alert for Night of a Thousand Gowns. Thanks for writing so colorfully about last year's event. You can visit our website www.icny.org to get details about this year's 23rd Annual Night of a Thousand Gowns and buy tickets there too.

    With thanks,
    Empress XIX Robin Kradles


Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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