mama tits, seattle, drag queen, drag
mama tits, seattle, drag queen, drag

How Opera and Raves Gave Birth to Seattle Drag Superstar Mama Tits

“Originally I was a singer, a musical theater kid,” says Mama Tits, the glorious Seattle drag performer. Before she was a towering colorful singer, Mama was Brian, a meek opera-singing teen in Idaho.

Recently Brian opened up about his past on my podcastThe Sewers of Paris, where I talk to gay men about the entertainment that changed their lives. For him, at least at first, it was shows like Tosca.

“It was like getting thrown into a massive amount of phenomenal talent,” he recalled. During his free time, he would just wander into churches and sing by himself. But then that all changed:  “I found the party scene and everything went in the opposite direction,” he said. He saw club kids on Donahue and was thunderstruck: “What the fuck is this?” he asked.

The ’90s were a rough time for him. His four siblings all passed away from various causes. And he needed the escape that he found in in the documentary Wigstock, which chronicles New York’s massive drag celebration.

“That was my Bible,” he said of the documentary. “Once I found that I wore the VHS out.”

Wigstock showed him that he wasn’t alone, even though he certainly felt that way. “I didn’t fit in very well,” he said. “I was a little too flamboyant and I was a big tall white kid.” He moved around a lot, going from Idaho to California and then to Oregon to live with his father. His dad tried to be a parent, but Brian resisted.

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” he’d ask his father.

As soon as he was able, Brian went back to live with his mom in Idaho, which was tolerable, at least at first. There was very little trouble he could get into, thanks to the isolated rural setting. He tried cow-tipping, which was scary, and then discovered boys.

Exploring his sexuality was surprisingly easy, and as he made some friends on the social outskirts, he discovered raves.

“I was part of the crew that introduced raving to Idaho,” he said. He and his friends found a huge barn, and installed a giant disco ball. Occasionally they’d break into buildings and throw raves. But constantly running from the police soon grew tiresome.

“You can only be young and dumb for so long,” he said. Home life was tense, and at one point he told his mother, “I can’t live in your hellhole anymore.” She hit him so hard he fell through a door, and with that, he moved out.

Being on his own forced Brian to take care of himself, and his relationship with his mother gradually improved. “It broke the cycle of the systematic abuse that we put on each other,” he said.

He tried moving to New York, and lived for a time in a tiny room in the James Street Hotel. But New York was not what Wigstock had led him to expect.

“I expected it to be this great embrace. Nope.” The city was rough and opportunities were few, while expenses were high. He fled to Seattle, and went back to what he knew — throwing and attending parties. He was known as Sister Stella Standing for a while, then Busty McGee.

It was Drag Race star Robbie Turner who suggested that he adopt the name Mama Tits. “You’re like everybody’s mama around here,” Robbie said, and the rest was history.

These days, Mama runs a Sunday brunch show at Unicorn, and winters at Act II Stages in Puerto Vallarta. Being an international drag show superstar isn’t easy, but Brian’s held down a lot of jobs and is always ready to take on something new. Of his latest ventures, he says, “It taught me how to become a business owner. You learn. You have to. Or else you fizzle out.”