For their profile assignments, I asked my students to pursue two additional interviews beyond the person who was their subject. The purpose was for them to gain more experience in asking their neighborhood beat sources about how and why certain individuals were newsworthy. What impact did the profile subject have on others?
These additional interviews gave platforms to more voices from a variety of communities and cultures – such as drag queens…..!
By Jessica Delatorre
The Castro’s drag scene is alive and vivid through makeup and Amoura Teese is among it all in her sequined costumes, either performing or hosting a fundraising event.
Well-known for her alter ego stage personality, Teese also goes by the name, Jericho Rose. She is a drag queen performer, activist and host, usually for fundraisers throughout the Castro and surrounding neighborhoods. Teese is affiliated with organizations like SF AIDS Foundation and Black Brother Esteem.
Teese was a victim of a hate crime in which bystanders saw her flamboyance and femininity and attacked her. “I got the chance to ask them, ‘Why are you doing this?’ in the middle of the attack and they froze and stared at me like deer in the headlights,” she said. “It gave me a chance to get away.”
She added that it’s important to speak up for yourself. Doing so sets an example for others to stand up for what’s right and can influence peers and the greater community to do the same.
“It’s important to provide a voice for those who can’t or choose not to speak up for their rights, specifically now in this time of the Trump administration,” Teese said. “I think it’s especially important to be an activist to speak up for communities that are frequently discriminated against.”
Teese has worked with Black Brother Esteem, an organization affiliated with the SF AIDS Foundation that spreads awareness by educating communities about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Black Brother Esteem focuses on people of color and ethnic communities such as African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans. Teese and the organizations have collaborated on different events to raise awareness and continue to educate the community.
“Amoura is a soft and caring individual who is continuing to learn more about the industry of drag and entertainment,” said Aria Villajin, Teese’s oldest sister in the “Haus of Teese” who is also known by her stage name, Pearl Teese. “Amoura is in a pivotal stage in her growth as an entertainer. She is still figuring out what she stands for besides her own self-expression and who she is as a person. I personally believe her youthfulness and growing maturity play to both her strengths and weaknesses as an individual and an entertainer. What’s admirable is her drive to do what she wants to do while applying all her effort into staying true to who she wants to be.”
Teese is Latinx and stands with the immigrant community. Her grandparents and great-grandparents were also immigrants.
Teese doesn’t relate to President Donald Trump’s administration. “What makes me most upset is his decision to join organizations and line up with powerful individuals who blatantly discriminate against people of color and LGBT communities and support laws that allow for the discrimination to continue.”
Jesse Chang, a drag queen in the Castro known by the stage name Mimi Osa, first met Teese when they were selling raffle tickets for drag queen Peaches Christ’s “Spice World” show at the Castro Theatre. She was excited to meet another so-called newbie queen in Teese but otherwise, their paths split off.
“I was more of a ‘volunteer queen’ than Amoura was,” Osa said. “I would get in drag for fundraisers and those kinds of events. But she would set herself up as a ‘working queen,’ building up her reputation as a performer, booking gigs and on and on. Her background in dance and singing has transferred very well into her drag. She is an incredibly energetic performer and great at entertaining a crowd. She has also started sewing and even had a fashion show featuring her unique vinyl outfits.”
Teese loves what she does because she reaches large audiences and connects with them through her stage personality and performance art. “It’s always fun,” she said, “to have a wild and raunchy audience, which makes for the best crowd reactions when I pull them onto the stage. I always try to be myself—relatable—but also amplify my creative persona into reality for the event.”
Osa summed up Teese with this: “Basically, this girl does everything! She is still young, both literally and in her drag and already so well-accomplished as she continues to develop her art.”
She added: “I can’t wait to see more of what Amoura Teese has to offer the world.”