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Other mothers

Local performers honor their drag moms

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Ba'Naka, drag, drag queen, Town Danceboutique, gay news, LGBT Nightlife, Washington Blade
Ba'Naka, drag, drag queen, Town Danceboutique, gay news, LGBT Nightlife, Washington Blade, Shi-Queeta Lee, Lena Lett, High heel race, 17th street, Frank Kameny Way

Ba’Naka, Shi-Queeta-Lee and Lena Lett (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Spend any real time in the gay world and you know there are many who take drag very seriously, from the elaborate routines to the familial ties.

Since this weekend is Mother’s Day, we asked a few local performers why drag families are important. It didn’t take long to realize it’s about a lot more than borrowing lipstick or getting input on a new gown.

“It truly is family,” says Muffy Blake-Stephyns. “Few people know me quite as well as my drag family. We complete each other’s sentences, we know just what to say or do to comfort one another. We have each other’s back.”

“We’re closer than your actual blood relatives,” says Alexandra B. Childs. “We sew, rhinestone, glue, paint, staple, smile and lip sync our hearts out for one another. Our drag family hangs out together in and out of the drag scene. Drag events are like a weekly family reunion for us with a lot more hairspray and sequins involved than most others.”

“Drag families are just an elaborate support system,” Ba’Naka says. “A sisterhood that is there for you when you need it.”

 

Shi-Queeta Lee, drag, drag queen, gay news, Washington Blade

Shi-Queeta-Lee (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Drag name: Shi-Queeta-Lee

Boy name: Jerry VanHook

Drag mother’s name: Chyna Pendar’vis/Benjamin Smith

How did you meet? I met Chyna Pendar’vis (RIP) through a friend of mine, Don Pendar’vis (RIP). I was competing for the Miss Magic Pageant 1998, which I won singing live Whitney Houston “Your Love Is My Love.” The pageant is part of the Gay Softball league here in D.C. called Chesapeake and Potomac Softball League (CAPS). I painted myself for it and Don came over to help me and he said, “Girl you look a hot ghetto mess.” So he calls Chyna to come and do my makeup and clothes. I was always told the first drag queen that paints you and put you in drag is your drag mother. She taught me the ropes on drag life and the drama that comes with it.

What does she mean to you? She means the world to me. Taught me so much on life in the gay community. How to get booked for drag shows, how to host to get patrons excited to see drag queens perform. She was a pageant girl, so she guided me on how to compete as well. Chyna was a diva at her craft, also had a loving family that supported the art form. I had a loving family that supported me.

 

Drag name: Kuji Lee

Boy name: Kuji Mah Ajani

Drag mother’s name: Shi-Queeta-Lee aka Jerry VanHook

How did you meet? I met my drag mom at a nightclub called “The Edge” that used to be located in Southeast Washington near the Navy Yard Marine Base. Shi-Queeta-Lee wasn’t born yet (I don’t believe), so the first three years of our interaction was with Jerry. Later I ran into her again and she introduced me as her child, which I didn’t dispute. It was then that I began to carry the last name “Lee.” A few years later, the birth of Shi-Queeta-Lee arrived in D.C. and started hosting a drag show at the famous Bachelor’s Mill. I was infatuated with drag performances for many years that I began to secretly desire to hit the stage as a male entertainer one day and Shi-Queeta-Lee was the first to give me my start.

What does she mean to you? Shi-Queeta-Lee is and will always be the catalyst of our family. She is also a well-known public figure who has endured ridicule, harsh criticism, etc. within our gay community for believing that the drag-gay/bi/transgender community can reach higher ground if presented in a different framework that connects all genders, all races. She embodies diversities, complexity, independence, boldness, unconditional love, vulnerability, creativity and more. She never let anyone or anything halt her goals or dreams and she makes sure we as her family apply those same beliefs.

 

Drag name: Shelby Blake-Stephyns

Boy name: Jon Rybka-Wachhaus

Drag mother’s name: Veronica Blake (Rob Amos)

How did you meet: I had been doing drag for approximately two years and had become a member of The Academy of Washington, Inc. We had become close and when my previous mother and I had a falling out, she asked me if I would be her daughter because she saw so much in me that wasn’t being nurtured and needed to be. And the rest, as they say is history.

What does your drag mother mean to you? Veronica means the world to me. Many times I get so many ideas in my head that it’s great to have someone there to help you sort it all out to make you the best you can be. She can be tough as leather sometimes but she always has my best interest at heart.

 

Daniel Hays, Muffy Blake Stephyns, gay news, Washington Blade

Daniel Hays A.K.A. Muffy Blake Stephyns (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Drag name: Muffy Blake-Stephyns

Boy name: Daniel L. Hays

Drag mother’s name: Shelby Blake Stephyns/Jon Rybka-Wachhaus

How did you meet? I met Shelby at a benefit drag show at Freddie’s Beach Bar.  I had been doing drag for a number of years, but at that particular time I was going through some health challenges and was battling depression. She was just kind of the perfect prescription. She was incredibly caring, uplifting and made me want to continue performing. Over the next few weeks we talked pretty much every day. Before long it was official, I had changed “families” and Shelby became my mom. I think I can safely say that were it not for Shelby coming into my life, in all likelihood Muffy would have hung up her heels.

What does she mean to you? My drag mother truly means the world to me.  I know she loves me unconditionally and that is something that is felt in return. If I need something, I know without a doubt that if there is any way my drag mother can help she will be there, no questions asked. I am truly blessed to have Shelby Blake Stephyns as my mama.

 

Delila B. Lee, Howard Theater, drag, gay news, Washington Blade

Delila B. Lee (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Drag name: Delila B. Lee

Boy name: Delonte’ Ladson

Drag mother’s name: Shi-Queeta-Lee/Jerry Vanhook

How did you meet?  I met Shi-Queeta-Lee in 2009 at Town Danceboutique. And I was amazed of the illusion she gave as Tina Turner. She got me into drag by teaching me how confidence is the key. And completely being myself. I was very interested in becoming a drag queen. The desire to transform into a beautiful diva and lip sync on stage. I first performed in 2011.

What does she mean to you? A drag family is being together, supporting and loving one another. It should be treasured forever. Most of us don’t have supportive families because they don’t accept and tolerate our lifestyles. Having a drag family means knowing you’ll be loved unconditionally. I’m proud to call Mother Lee my drag mother.

 

Ba'Naka, drag, drag queen, Town Danceboutique, gay news, LGBT Nightlife, Washington Blade

Ba’Naka (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Drag name: Ba’Naka

Boy name: Dustin Michael Schaad

Drag mother’s name: When they say it takes a village they weren’t joking! I don’t have one singular drag mother. From Florida to D.C., I’ve collected a harem of Mommie Dearests but the most influential have been D.C. icons Lena Lett and Kristina Kelly (David Lett and Chris Smith).

How did you meet? I met Kristina Kelly at Apex when I first moved to D.C. She was the first queen to give me a chance in this city. I began regularly performing with her at various D.C. venues: Apex, Omega, Remington’s, Be-Bar. She taught me how to paint a face and take the stage. As for Lena, she has never been my official drag mother but I’ve learned more from her than any other. From her I learned how to host a show and command an audience (hosting is 10 times harder than performing). Lena over the years has given me some of the best advice (not that I always listen — I’m hard headed) that I have ever received.

What does she mean to you? My drag mothers have been a source of wisdom, experience and comfort over the years.

 

Drag name: Hope B. Childs

Boy name: Steven Ramsey

Drag mother’s name: Destiny B. Childs/Richard Legg

How did you meet? I met my drag mother years ago when I tried to commit suicide. She and her husband picked me up and let me live with them. She helped me become the true me. I started in the drag scene as her dresser and anywhere she went, I went. Rhinestoning her shoes and outfits and putting her outfits together. I first started doing drag without her really knowing (not a good idea to doing something behind your mother’s back). She helps me with whatever I need.

What does she mean to you? She is my best friend she means the world to me. She’s not my drag mom she is my mom.

 

Alexandra B. Childs, drag, drag queen, Town Danceboutique, LGBT Nightlife, gay news, Washington Blade, Miss Capital Pride 2012

Alexandra B. Childs (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Drag name: Alexandra B. Childs (Miss Capital Pride 2012)

Boy name: Chad Phillips

Drag mother’s name: Destiny B. Childs/Richard Legg

How did you meet? I met Destiny at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City, shortly after I moved to D.C. and came out. Theater was always something that I enjoyed and drag to me is an extension of that. I had toyed with the idea of trying drag and voiced it several times to some people. The first time I was put into drag was by Destiny’s drag mother, Ophelia Bottoms. After that it was something that I knew that I loved and the creativity is endless. Destiny took me in and gave me advice and sources for items and ideas to advance in the craft. And here I am, Miss Capital Pride 2012 about to step down and I owe it all to my mother and the family that we call the Childs clan!

What does she mean to you? Destiny/ Ric is more than a drag mother. We have a friendship that is more than just lashes and lipstick. Destiny is that person who knows my look from across the room, the one who is honest enough to say “Girl, not that hair,” the one who magically has the Mary Poppins “bag of stuff” if we forget something or need something. She is a person who in or out of drag consistently gives back to the community and those around her.

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Real Estate

Standing on both feet in the current real estate market

Interest rates are up and contingencies are back

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Buyers have more power than they’ve had in recent years.

Gone are the days of a home receiving 25 offers and going well over asking price by more than $250,000. One would think…

The housing market in our immediate area as well as most of the United States has changed from what we’ve seen during the earlier pandemic days. Here in the nation’s capital, we have seen a market that is more in keeping with what we have historically seen. The fall market this year has brought on a substantial amount of new inventory to the market, which is consistent with earlier market trends. We have seen the prices reduce a bit and we have seen days on market linger a bit. But what exactly is going on here?

RISING MORTGAGE RATES

For two years we saw a wild real estate market that was fueled by the need for more space, new space, fresh space, and insanely low interest rates. The lack of inventory in the market also assisted in allowing sellers to get substantial amounts of money over their asking price and left buyers giving everything away. Since then the landscape has changed. Due to higher than the “old normal” interest rates, the market has begun to correct itself a bit. I would like to point out that the interest rates are NOT the only reason for the market correcting itself, this is also due to the influx of inventory coming to the market. Buyers now have so many options to look at, things to consider, and time is truly back on their side in order to make a more sound and informed decision when it comes to home ownership.

Please don’t get it twisted — if a home is well photographed, well marketed, and well priced in addition to having a brilliantly charming Realtor at the open house — it will surely sell with several offers and over asking. That is just no longer the norm.

TIT-FOR-TAT NEGOTIATIONS 

Although we no longer live in a world where sellers can expect to receive $250,000 above asking, we also don’t live in a world where buyers can expect to offer 30-50 percent less than asking and expect for the results to be positive. Similar to dating – we are back to a more intimate handholding experience when it comes to both the home buying and selling experience. As a seller it is important to ensure that your home is in tip-top shape while pricing it properly. As a buyer you should ensure that you have a great pre-approval, provide an appropriate EMD and realize that now you can include CONTINGENCIES! Yes! Once again, you can actually have a home inspection, financing contingency and even a radon test if you are feeling frisky. Those are the most valuable changes in the market for buyers.

INFLATION OR INFLATEGATE?

While turning on the news might be grim these days between inflation, the stock market, and interest rates – home prices are still over 6 percent more expensive than this time last year. If you look at the job market for example, unemployment is at an all-time low. You are still getting paid every week and if your manager makes you angry enough you have the flexibility to quit one job and find another relatively quickly. This mindset combined with an increase in active home listings and decrease in demand – you will likely still say: “Let’s go buy a home.”

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,  [email protected] or BurnsandNoble.com.

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Real Estate

What you get for the money in D.C.

Plenty of options from $200,000 to $10 million

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Looking to buy in D.C.? There are plenty of options at all price points.

As I write this, the national average 30-year, fixed-mortgage rate is 6.33%, with VA and FHA loans hovering around 5.7%. These rates can fluctuate based on the amount of your down payment, your assets and liabilities, your credit score, and the type of home you purchase. 

A $400,000 mortgage that cost $1,686 per month in 2021 at 3% will now increase your monthly payment by an additional $798. Sadly, this may eliminate a portion of the buyer pool or necessitate postponing a purchase, particularly for the first-time buyer.

On the other hand, we are beginning to see an increase in inventory, longer marketing time, periodic price reductions, and even offers of closing help and repairs to items found in a home inspection. So where are these homes and what do you get for your money?

First, let’s define the term “home.” 

There are two types of fee simple structures: a detached house and a rowhouse (a.k.a. townhouse in the suburbs). With a fee simple purchase, you own the land and the structure(s) on it.

Another type of home is a condominium, where you own the unit and a corresponding percentage of the land beneath the building and the common areas within it. 

In a cooperative apartment, instead of owning the unit and peripheral areas, you own shares of stock in the corporation that holds those things. 

Believe it or not, you can still buy property in D.C. for less than $250,000. It will most assuredly be a condo or co-op. It will probably be a studio or one-bedroom, although there are a few two-bedroom units and even four three-bedroom units currently available to choose from. If you’re looking under $100,000, however, you’ll be sleeping in your very own parking space.

Where are these inexpensive homes hiding? You can find many of them in Adams Morgan, Cleveland Park and Petworth and quite a few east of the river in Congress Heights, Deanwood, Hillcrest, and Randall Heights. 

River Park, a popular co-op along the Southwest Waterfront, features a 2-bedroom, 2-bath unit for only $189,000, if your budget can withstand a monthly fee of nearly $1,400, including property taxes and utilities.

If you raise your purchase price to $500,000, then you can select from 538 available homes, including dozens of rowhouses in Anacostia, Congress Heights, Deanwood, and Lily Ponds just west of the Anacostia Freeway.

One-bedroom condos and co-ops abound in this price range as well, so check out those in Brightwood, Brookland, Capitol Hill, and even Friendship Heights and Georgetown. For the brand-conscious, there’s even a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom co-op available at the Watergate for only $425,000, reduced from $570,000. Who says you can’t get a bargain in D.C.?

In the $500,000 to $750,000 range, you can live pretty much wherever you want by selecting from a rowhouse or detached home in the Brookland-Woodridge-Michigan Park-Riggs Park enclave or an assortment of two-bedroom condos in Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle and Logan Circle, and even three-bedroom units in Shaw. Why not? There are 471 homes to choose from.

Inching up further to $1 million, there are 330 homes on the market: beautifully renovated houses in Park View, Petworth, 16th Street Heights, Brookland, Brightwood and Capitol Hill, as well as condos in Georgetown and co-ops in Foggy Bottom.

If you can afford the next price band of $1 million to $1.5 million, 197 homes await. There are some lovely three- and four-story rowhouses available in Bloomingdale, Capitol Hill near the H Street Corridor, and Columbia Heights. You’ll also find condos in West End, in the Central Business District, and along the U Street Corridor.

There are 83 homes available in the $1.5 million to $2 million range. Select from fee simple properties in Upper NW, Capitol Hill, Chevy Chase, and Georgetown, or splurge and choose one of two two-bedroom, 2.5-bath condos at the Ritz-Carlton. You’ll only pay a “small” monthly fee of about $3,100. 

For those lucky people for whom price is no object, there are 142 homes currently listed from $2 million to $10 million. They are scattered throughout Georgetown, Forest Hills, Logan Circle, Dupont, Kalorama, Wesley Heights, and the Embassy Row area of Massachusetts Avenue.

Unlike New York or Los Angeles, you won’t find anything in the tens of millions, but there are four homes listed between $10 million and $12 million in Wesley Heights and Massachusetts Avenue Heights, as well as one 11-bedroom beauty in Forest Hills, with an estimated 17,000 finished square feet on four levels – just perfect for you and 10-20 of your closest friends.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs

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Real Estate

When does it make sense to pay for mortgage points?

It depends on how long you plan to stay in the house

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If you’re buying this fall, consider how long you plan to live in the home before deciding on buying mortgage points.

Sometimes when you hear people talking about mortgages you might hear the term “mortgage points.” In case you are wondering what that means, here’s the definition: Mortgage “points” are the fees a borrower pays in order to lower the interest rate on their loan. Sometimes referred to as “discount points” – since it discounts your rate (but increases your closing costs).

According to lender Brooke Lowry with Atlantic Coast Mortgage, the decision to use points relates to timeframe. She says, “The clear advantage of paying points is that it lowers your monthly payment. The clear disadvantage is that is increases the amount of cash due at closing. So, how do you decide if paying points makes sense or not? It really comes down to timeframe. Let’s say you pay $2,500 in points to lower your monthly payment by $50 per month. You would recapture the cost of paying points ($2,500 in this example) in 50 months. And after that is when you would start realizing the benefit of the points you paid several years earlier.”

So, if you plan on staying in your home for a longer period, and don’t plan on refinancing anytime soon, you might want to buy down your rate with points. As Brooke says, “The bottom line is that if you plan to have the same mortgage for a long period of time, then paying points can make sense since you give yourself a long enough runway to recapture the upfront cost and then benefit from the continued monthly savings. If you think you’ll refinance your loan, or potentially sell the house, then many times minimizing the amount of points you pay, or avoiding them altogether, can benefit you in the long run. The hard part is, none of us know when rates will fall so it’s hard to decide which option makes the most sense.”

For some people having the extra cash on hand to put toward the closing costs, a bathroom renovation once they move in, or just for moving costs and various other needs is more important. For others, having the lower rate and keeping the monthly payment down for as long as possible is more important. As one of my college professors used to say, “Context is everything.” 

Joseph Hudson is with the Rutstein Group of Compass and can be reached at 703-587-0597 or [email protected].

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