Maxi Glamour – a non-binary community activist, national drag star and artist – has emerged as a leading voice in the latest wave of demonstrations in the name of social justice reform across the region. With them comes a signature style and commanding presence to protests against the killing of Black people at the hands of law enforcement.
Earlier this month, Glamour vogued in full drag in front of Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house as part of a protest calling for the mayor’s resignation after she doxed protestors during a Facebook Live COVID-19 update.
In fact, it was Glamour who started the petition for the mayor’s resignation, which has since gathered over 60,000 signatures and counting.
Always present and engaging during actions, Glamour admitted to being tired of demanding the basic liberties that should be a birthright. In the middle of a summer full of activism and struggle, Glamour says in the current movement are echoes those that came before.
“I’m kind of exhausted from trying to fight for things we shouldn’t [still have to] be fighting for,” Glamour said.
“I feel frustrated because we shouldn’t be having these conversations in 2020. I feel that some of the conversations that we’re having are recurring conversations that have direct correlations from the 1800s or the 1980s or the 1950s.”
But as an artist, Glamour remains resourceful – and continues to use art to fuel the movement. On July 9, for example, Glamour brought a flute (the first of five instruments) to the City Hall occupation protest and was seen creating elaborate chalk murals. Glamour has music available to stream on all platforms.
“I think that art helps cope with the tumultuousness of reality,” Glamour said. “At the same time, you have to find peace and comfort to be able to make that art.”
Glamour’s Petition for the resignation of Mayor Krewson is 15,000 signatures away from meeting its goal of 75,000. They said the petition was created as a platform to build a coalition for progressive change and to push Lyda Krewson off of the political stage in St. Louis.
“You know, Lyda Krewson has been a problem before she was mayor,” Glamour said. “When she was the alderperson of the 20th ward, she was a problem, helping fortify the divide of Delmar, helping focus all the attention on an essential corridor, creating a system that was very whitewashed, very Eurocentric and straight oriented.”
When dressed in full drag at protests, Glamour may get a glare or two, but they know that they are introducing a new culture to the protests that opens up the door for inclusivity.
“Civil disobedience quite often is very monotonous, redundant, mundane action, and if it’s a repetition of the same chants and the same people, and everyone seems so solemn, while yes, these issues are very serious issues,” Glamour said, “at the same time, I want to make sure that people are engaged, that people feel happy, and people can see the joy.”
When it comes to the inclusion of women and the LGBTQIA community, Glamour insists that the names of Tony McDade, Kiwi Herring and other Black trans lives lost are mentioned at Black Lives Matter protests.
“When you look at this movement, a lot of times we are faced with contradicting arguments, stating that we don’t have to focus on those things,” Glamour said. “And so, I have been making sure that I am calling churches and asking them to stop saying that trans and queer humans are condemned to hell.”
A life of activism rooted in identity
Glamour has been fighting for queer rights since Glamour came out at 11 years old and began to fight for a gay-straight alliance club in Glamour’s school.
“My whole entire life I have been an activist on some platform or another,” Glamour said. “After Ferguson I realized that I needed to make sure that I was that Black queer voice that was missing in some of these spaces.”
Glamour was raised by a white Jewish mother and Black father and went to school in several districts – from Ferguson-Florissant, to Hazelwood, to Fort Zumwalt. At one point, Glamour was one of only 12 black kids at Glamour’s school.
“I was that Black punk kid that everybody knew because they’d never seen a Black punk person before,” Glamour said.
By 14, Glamour was already going by Glamour’s chosen name and wearing “women’s” clothes to school. By 19, Glamour self-identified as trans. Glamour’s personal gender presentation is influenced by anti-capitalist aesthetics and the early 20th century Dada Art Movement, which is an art movement formed during the First World War and is often satirical.
The artist Duchamp inspired Glamour to create Glamour’s own art form, called “Modernadada,” which is influenced by foreign cultures due to Glamour’s self-described “xenophilia.”
“I wanted to be super cognizant of the media that I was consuming and be able to identify different forms of beauty that combats this Eurocentric ideology that this is how art should be,” Glamour said.
Glamour is well known for transcendent non-binary drag looks, which are designed to appear literally out of this world. Glamour said creating a look takes between one day and three months.
Glamour’s art emerged out of St. Louis and onto the global stage through participation in a Netflix show called “The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula,” becoming the first drag queen in St. Louis history to perform on an international television show.
“Being one of the most prolific drag queens in St. Louis history is crazy,” Glamour said. “Reality TV is no joke.”
In 2014, Glamour became one of the founders of Qu’art St. Louis, a quarterly art event that presents queer art and promotes queer creative culture on social media. Qu’art focuses on collaborative artistic projects, building visual work and community at the same time.
“I wanted to change the art scene in St. Louis and make it queerer and make it more wild and give people opportunities to grow,” Glamour said.
It’s not just the transgressive aesthetics of drag that attract Glamour – it’s the radical community and activist platforms that can be built around drag performance, too.
“Drag performers are like the columns of queer culture,” Glamour said. “They are the champions that dictate and normalize structures of society. We are at the helm of queer political discourse, and we have the responsibility to navigate queer culture into a more equitable and more liberated place.”
For more information about Maxi Glamour, visit https://maxiglamour.com.