A first: Mummers invite LGBT drag group to march
by Angela Thomas
Nov 29, 2012 | 2180 views | 2 2 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Philadelphia Mummers Parade is a century-plus New Year’s Day tradition, and this year organizers plan to drag things a little further with new performances.

Brittany Lynn’s Drag Mafia will be the first LGBT drag group to ever take part in the Mummers Parade. The Mafia has performed at LGBT locales throughout the city for more than a decade

Lynn, a former editorial assistant for PGN, Temple University alum and South Philadelphia native, is excited for the opportunity.

Lynn lived on “Two Street,” where most of the Mummers’ production clubhouses are located, and a common meeting spot for Mummers participants after the parade, which also includes an informal march down Second Street on Jan. 1.

Lynn said several members of the Mummers Brigade Association raised the idea of performing this year. She held a meeting with association president James Julia and board president Rocco Gallelli.

“They contacted me because I have done some stuff, mostly fundraisers, in the past and they asked me to put this all together,” Lynn said.

The first Mummers Parade was held in 1901. Women were not allowed to participate until the 1970s, resulting in men dressing in drag to fill the female roles.

The 2013 parade will open a new era with the inclusion of performers who entertain audiences in drag throughout the year.

Lynn said she made sure to pick the top drag performers in the city.

Fellow performers Crystal Electra, Alexis Cartier, Misses P., Porcelain, Bridgette Jones, Stella D’Oro, Mary D’Knight, Navaya Shay and Cherry Pop will be part of the act.

The group will lead the string bands up Broad Street to City Hall, starting at Washington Avenue.

Later in the day, the Drag Mafia will perform at the Convention Center in between the Fancy Brigade acts.

Lynn said it was a big honor to be asked to perform both in the parade and at the indoor show, and sends a good message about the Philadelphia icon.

“It is a longstanding Philly tradition. A lot of the times, [the Mummers] are seen as homophobic and they just want to send the message out that they are not,” she said.

The performers, however, will be putting on a different show for the Mummers Parade than they would in a club.

“We have certain guidelines that we have to follow. We are performing for an audience that ranges from newborns to the elderly. We can’t do provocative dancing like we could in a club,” she explained.

Lynn said she has been involved throughout the rehearsal process, making sure the girls’ music fits to the theme, is on time and that each performer’s costume is appropriate.

“We are coming out singularly. I won’t be the first one out. This is our first time performing at the Mummers Parade; we are a league of our own girls,” she said.

Lynn added she picked the entertainers based on their talent and believes the audience will be impressed by their talent, although she is getting performance jitters.

“We really want to push our first performance and get as much support as possible. I know we will be entertaining and put on a great show, but this is still a longtime tradition,” she said.

As many of the girls are still young, Lynn said they don’t all fully appreciate how significant of an opportunity performing in the Mummers Parade is — both personally and for the LGBT community.

“I grew up in South Philly — I know how big this is. Two of the other girls grew up there as well,” she said. “I think once it gets closer, and we do our walk-through on Dec. 30, they will begin to grasp how big of an opportunity this is.”

The Mummers have expressed interest in having the Drag Brigade every year, Lynn said.

“It is going to be a great event for us and it will be a legacy.”

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November 29, 2012
This isn't the first time that the Mummers had drag performers. In the mid 70s the late (and delightfully notorious Valerie Fox performed with the Fabulous Fakes at the Mummers parade. I think she performed as Cher. Les Harrison might have performed also. There may have been an article in the Inquirer about it.
November 29, 2012
I would like to add that Valerie Fox was the sickest drag queen I ever met.