Just like the “Wizard of Oz,” the Queen City of Charlotte is bound to have at least a few witches (oops, I mean queens) reigning over the various neighborhoods. Hmmmm… the Queen of Morehead has a nice ring to it. Don’t you think?
My column this month features Bella Nichole Dior Jade, the Queen of SouthEnd. I have known Bella since she competed in the Miss Charlotte Newcomer pageant at The Scorpio and won the title. As she pointed out to me, Bella comes from the Italian word for “beautiful.” So, of course, she is pretty — but somewhere under that make-up (somewhere), there is more to the eye than just another pretty queen. So, let’s dig deeper.
Bella and I met for the interview at Dish, one of our favorite gay neighborhood diners. Her partner Jason joined us. For those who don’t know, Bella’s boy name is Tyler Medinger. He grew up in a town called Mocksville, N.C. From how she describes her hometown, the place I imagine is a lot like the Kansas farm town where Dorothy grew up, except with football players. “In Mocksville, there are two religions — Baptist and Football, so being gay was not easy,” she adds.
Bella came out as gay at the age of 16 to her family. “My Mom to this day thinks she did something wrong, something she ate I guess — Rainbow Skittles, watched too much Rainbow Brite. It took five years, but my Mom has accepted I am gay, but not that I have a partner. It’s a process for family. My Dad loves both of us and loves my partner Jason. It takes more time with some family, there is nothing you can do but just give them time.”
As a result of coming out at a young age, she has always shown a deep commitment to LGBTQ youth. She has volunteered her time to perform for the Youth Pride Dance, as well as helping do make-up and perform in drag with various Campus Pride events. When asked, what inspires her with drag, Bella responds: “The community, I love being part of the community. I love helping others, especially youth and trans people. I think drag is a way for me to do just that.”
One thing Bella and I immediately bond over is her love for the “Wizard of Oz” and Judy Garland (aka Dorothy). “When I was little, my Nana had a VHS tape of ‘Wizard of Oz.’ I would watch it over and over. I loved that movie. Judy Garland is such an icon and I just love it,” she continues, “Oh, that and Mary Poppins. I used to jump off cars and rooftops with an umbrella when I was a kid.” LOL. Well that explains a lot. We both laugh. Too funny.
Bella made Charlotte her home in 2010 and moved to the city for her partner Jason. As part of the drag scene, Bella remembers getting her start locally at Petra’s Piano Bar on stage with “Petra’s Got Talent” where she got second place. I jokingly corrected her: “You mean first alternate?” Both her and I have been first alternate almost as many times as Angela Lopez. Almost. Ha!
Bella does hold a few pageant titles including the current Miss All Hallow’s Eve — and as she says “until they do another Pride pageant, the forever reigning Miss Woodshed Pride.” Bella performs regularly at The Hideaway, Chemistry Nightclub and then locally in Charlotte at Cathode Azure Club where she is the show director and house cast member. As a show director, she shares: “I try to book seasoned queens and new queens. I want to give everyone a chance. I like people to be different and bring new things to the stage. That is what I look for.”
As we wrapped up our lunch date, I asked Bella her perspective on the unsettling Bar Wars and about the growing Charlotte drag community. She shares: “Charlotte drag queens have a huge sisterhood. Every Monday we all meet at the ‘Glitter Bell’ — that’s what we call Angela Lopez’s house. We are all friends. It doesn’t matter who is more pretty — or what bar you work at. We are sisters first,” she said. “Nina Fierra once told me, and I think it is important to share: ‘Drag queens are not owned by the bars. We are owned by the community. All of us need our community supporting us.”
Bella is a young queen compared to many in the Queen City. Present company excluded, of course. But don’t underestimate her because of her age.
Underneath those layers of foundation and eyeliner, Bella cares deeply about the LGBTQ community and she continues to be a force for change in the Charlotte drag scene. “Its not a career, but I love it. I don’t want to be 60 years-old and putting on lipstick — but I enjoy drag, entertainment and being part of this community.”
DRAG TIP: “Blend, blend…oh, and don’t be afraid of color.”
Lola Lovelace is selling Amway. Be sure to private message her on Facebook if you are interested! Plus there’s a new hot spot in town — Hattie’s Tap & Tavern in NoDa and Plaza Midwood. Can’t wait to check it out!
— Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and performs to shake her boobs (and to raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. Plus don’t forget her weekly Saturday night show with Patti O’Furniture, monthly Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye