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and article on Drag Fundraising
LEGENDS - AIDS FUNDRAISERS
The AIDS crisis
and the start of the Fabulous Four began the same year, 1982, and the
group's place in Montrose bar history is well cemented. Originally called
the Fabulous Four, they were the crème de la crème of
drag entertainers in Houston. Tiffany Jones (Kenneth Whitehead) was
an early star, becoming prominent in the mid-1970s as the Texas Tornado.
She was so prominent that she was booked to perform summers in Provincetown,
and did shows all over the South. At the Copa the Fabulous Four had
a verbal agreement that they were only to perform under that name at
that club, though of course they could do solo work anywhere. The other
members of the first four were Naomi Sims, Donna Day and Hot Chocolate,
all very popular and frequent pageant winners.
The group went from Four to Five for practical reasons. In late 1983
Tiffany knew she was booked to do her summer Provincetown tour, so Tasha
Kohl joined the group, and she fit like a glove. They performed as a
group of five until mid 1984, and by the end of 1984 Tiffany had phased
out, and they were again four. Tiffany died of AIDS in April 1985.
Naomi Sims (Newman Braud) was a bright star, beginning her climb in
1978 and soon winning Texas Entertainer of the Year, in 1979, 1980 and
1981. She also won Miss Gay USA, and just about every pageant you could
name. And like Tiffany she joined the Fabulous Four at the Copa. After
the Copa closed, in the fall of 1986, she continued irregularly with
the Fab Four to the end of 1991, and died of AIDS in 1992.
Donna Day (Donald Sheldon) had a similar start, winning pageants, such
as Miss Gay Texas America in 1977, and many others. She moved to Dallas
in 1983 to work for Caven Enterprises and be Queen of the Rose Room
for the next twenty years. But of course she could still do Houston
shows, which occurred into the 1990s. She had established herself as
an emcee, comic and dramatic and versatile performer. She died in 2003.
Hot Chocolate (Larry Edwards) is indeed a star, also having pageant
wins such as Miss Gay Florida 1976 and Miss Gay America 1980 before
moving to Las Vegas in 1985. She has been performing in Las Vegas for
many years, as Tina Turner in the "Divas Las Vegas" show,
and at the Piranha Club, and has done numerous television and film appearances.
Rounding out the Fabulous Four is Tasha Kohl (Jery F. Kohl Faulkner)
who also came through the pageant route, garnering Miss Gay America
1984 and National Entertainer of the Year 1991 along the way. Living
in Dallas, she has been performing for almost forty years, always packing
in the crowds to see her edgy over the top performances.
As these performers reigned in Houston in the early 1980s, they responded
to the AIDS crisis, and did countless benefits to raise funds. The two
living members have told us that they estimate about 30 percent of the
shows they did then were AIDS fundraisers, and often at short notice,
as the need was so great.
extensive coverage of the
Fantastic Five/Fabulous Four