Happily settled into his South Philly Queen Village rowhome with his dog Rylin, who is nothing but love, and sassy cat Kylie, Ian Morrison, 40, is finally finding his own.
“In 1997-98, my first job was an intern at PGN,” he said. Shortly thereafter, he became editorial assistant. “I wrote half the paper every week.”
Then, Gay Live, the live link phone chat mogul, swooped him up in 2001. As a public relations and advertising director, he was “sent to cities with an unlimited budget.”
“This was the time when people were going clubbing to hear live music like Whitney Houston. We would work with them, throw big parties,” Morrison said whimsically.
Manhunt recruited him for the same position and he began doing drag as well.
“This was the time before ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ There was a go-to girl in every city before that,” he said.
The nightclub scene in the region was booming — Shampoo, which Morrison managed the last year it was open, was at its peak in Philadelphia, Renegade in Rehoboth, Nation in Washington, D.C., and Studio 6 in Atlantic City.
“It was normal to have a $20 cover for clubs. We could each make $500 a night by performing a stellar show for an hour or so,” Morrison said. “There was no need to work out then because you would start dancing Friday night and stop Sunday afternoon.”
With years of drag experience under his belt, Morrison is now working to pay it forward.
He said he loves the laundry list of drag benefit work, and the great karma it brings.
“Take every opportunity, whether it’s paid or not because you never know,” he advised.
Among his impressive payback list includes benefits for Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutritional Alliance and City of Hope, as well as appearances at Pride and other community functions.
Morrison also tries his hand at bartending at Tavern on Camac and U Bar and served as assistant manager at Pure, the predecessor of Voyeur.
His most impressive feat is perhaps how he spearheaded the effort of bringing drag to the Mummers Parade. Last year, City Council even deemed March 15 — two days after Morrison’s birthday — as Brittany Lynn Day.
Or, maybe it is that he started the Drag Mafia in 1996 with a gang of girls, from which he frequently fishes to populate his wealth of events.
Perhaps it’s the fact that Brittany was a guest on Barbra Streisand’s “last” televised performance in 2001.
Or that, after moving to the Gayborhood at 18 to go to Temple, he landed himself the lead role as Frankenfurter in “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” with no experience.
“My face is still Franken,” he said.
“I was dreaming about guys. That’s the gayest thing I’ve ever said,” said Morrison, describing his childhood upbringing in the Northeast. With a huge crush on his long, feathered flowing-haired babysitter with those tiny shorts, he said he knew from a young age he was gay. He came out to friends at 19 and family at 21.
He soon was invited to the Penn Dances on Friday nights and fell in love with his new world.
Now, Morrison said Brittany Lynn has become a drag mom to a new generation of budding queens.
Morrison has gotten his drag makeover down to 20 minutes.
First, he applies theatrical make-up base on his face, contouring the cheekbones, nose and chin, as well as blush and highlights on the cheekbones and white make-up for the eyes. He adds glitter and uses an Elmer’s glue stick to cover the eyebrows and draw new ones on, and affixes lashes to the top and bottom of his eyes. He finishes the look with lipstick and dark lip liner.
Performance has long been his passion.
“I wanted to be a comedian,” Morrison said. But, performing comedy as Ian is a bit more challenging than as Brittany. “It’s harder because you can’t mess up and just say, ‘Fuck you, bitches.’”