Photo by Robbie Sweeny
Two names synonymous with drag, fashion, & underground queer culture.
began sewing at the age of 3. A native New Yorker, he formed his own couture fashion business in 1978, sold collections at Bergdorf Goodman and Patricia Field, and designed for the likes of Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, and Cher. After living for four years as Edie, a female model who lived off sugar packets and cigarettes, he began performing drag as Glamamore—"The Hog Queen of Lip Sync"—as one of the Boy Bar Beauties in the East Village. A major influence on fashion houses and avant-garde artists and performers in NYC and LA, Mr. David started to resent the pressure of living in the limelight—and the expectations the industry put on him.
Photo by Cabure Bonugli
“For years in New York, I was told: ‘Stick to one thing. You have to pick being a designer or a drag queen.’ It took moving to San Francisco for me to realize I could say: ‘Fuck that! I get to do what I want the way I want.’ That’s one of the things that I love about San Francisco. They still let me do what I want.”
—Mr. David Glamamore
imploded her business, sold her belongings, and moved west, where she dedicated herself to living her life exactly how she wanted. Performing with Juanita More! and Stacy Gives as the Fishstix, Mr. David Glamamore helped to continue the campy and creative drag scene in SF during the AIDS crisis while sewing couture gowns and costumes for queer and trans performers around the world. As the grandmother of the House of More!, she has created countless garments, helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for LGBTQ organizations through parties and drag shows, and acted as a mentor and fellow barfly with the freaks, artists, and queer kids in San Francisco's vibrant and eccentric nightlife.
Photo by Cabure Bonugli
Months before his major retrospective Mr. David for Juanita More!: 24 Years of More! showed at the de Young Museum in 2016, Mr. David began suffering from extreme nerve damage and a string of undiagnosed illnesses. Bed-ridden for a year, I began interviewing him to preserve his stories. Soon, I began booking interviews with performers, queer artists, and drag queens whose lives he has touched with his skill, wit, lipstick, and sewing machine—including SF’s own Juanita More!, musician Lady Miss Kier, Wigstock founder Lady Bunny, and more. The oral histories surrounding Mr. David Glamamore's life reveal her relentless devotion to create a world that is singular, gorgeous, and free—without compromise.
Photo by Joseph Montana
Mr. David for Juanita More!: 24 Years of More!
de Young Museum, 2016
Join me in documenting the life and work of Mr. David Glamamore as I write the biography of this living legend.
— XOXO / JH Phrydas
"What attracts me to Glamamore is this combination of comedy and camp and gravitas and deep beauty and thinking and feeling. Some of her numbers are super smart. Some of them are deeply emotional. Some are zany and some are fun. Of course, there are other performers that incorporate these elements, but Glamamore has ALL of them. Glama can do the wacky number. Glama can do the well-thought out reveal--the smart number. Glama can be perfectly still and hold the moment. I'll never forget how in 'Fake Plastic Trees' she barely does anything, and it just slays.
I say barely does anything. That's not true. She doesn't move her body, but her face and breath definitely perform. I love watching Glamamore in stillness. She's is a diva--an event of expressivity. For me as a dancer, she exudes an embodiment of dance and femininity."
I like to make a garment. Most designers have somebody else do a drawing. They say 'yes,' they say 'no,' they say 'change the collar,' 'change the color,' but I like to actually--physically--make the garment myself. I’m more of a painter in that way. I’m not just a seamstress. I’ve got to feel motivated. I’ve got to be ready for the creative process. People always ask, 'How long does it take to make a pair of pants?' I’m like, 'I have no idea. Sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes it takes three years.'
—Mr. David Glamamore
THE CHAOS ARTIST
"The gift, or niche, or thing about David is that his thought process is always going. You say one word, and all of a sudden he has an outfit and a show planned: the lighting, the dress, the outfit, all of it. And you're like, 'How did that happen?' He has this ability to connect to universal consciousness--the chaos of it. That's his other gift: being able to show people--and let them find--the chaos.
Chaos is great. Chaos is amazing. And chaos is a part of David. Because he understands that chaos is what we create. And in turn, it creates sex, it creates energy. All these attract vital triggers in our body, and so someone watching the show--seeing David and being connected and finding that place in themselves for a short time--it's not easy to get to, but they find it.
It's hard to share that. Someone can't give you your phone and, all of a sudden, you're there. You have to find it. I think that's one of my favorite things about David: there's always this beautiful chaos going on."
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“When Deee-Lite’s first white label release took off, the label told us we'd get to shoot a video. I immediately called Glamamore to make the costumes for what became the ‘Groove is in the Heart’ video and tour.
I knew I wanted to be wearing red hot pants up on my Gogo cube, and she designed it. She made that harlequin jumpsuit out of three Pucci pair of tights that were in a discount bin at Pucci. That set a trend, and later that year, Emilio Pucci was winning a lifetime achievement award and they asked me to help present it to him. The backless green sequin catsuit that Glamamore made me got knocked off by a famous French couture designer. That was the ultimate homage to be paid to us both.
Glamamore helped make Paris burn for me... literally. The first time I was there to sing, there was a riot because the venue oversold tickets. Someone stuck outside lit a car on fire. I mean, it was literally on fire, so Paris was burning and I was wearing Mr. David. Mugler and Gaultier were in the front row, and I met them backstage. Everyone was like, ‘Who is she wearing?’”
— Lady Miss Kier
Photo by Getty Images
"…and then us Boy Bar Beauties did Gay Pride in '87. I mean, you know Glama was making those fucking costumes to the 11th hour—plus tax! So I'm coming from [Paradise] Garage, and I showed up, and, you know, back then we had these queens… they were always so helpful. “Just wanna to be a part of it!” God I miss that. They’re all, “Sit down girl. I got you.” Beat my mug. I put that Patti LaBelle head on, I was Nefertiti. I mean, Glama turnt a Nefertiti outfit on my body! “Where’s my costume?” “Shut up! Shut up!” Boom boom boom boom! And there it is. Gorgeous. I used to love that. She’s just so talented. Like crazy, crazy, genius talented."
— HRH Princess Diandra
Photo by Art by Davey
"[Life in New York City in the ‘80s was] a happy time. But it was difficult because of AIDS and what it was doing to the community. Everybody stepped up, though. David and I were literally doing benefit after benefit after benefit after benefit... just doling out love. Because it needed to happen. There was no kind of way around it. We couldn't be like, "Oh, I'll do that tomorrow..." No. You had to do it now. You have to do it today. Because there was no tomorrow for a lot of people.
I remember we were performing somewhere, so we got half dressed. Matthew [Kasten] took us to... it wasn't Bellevue, but there's another hospital down the road from there. He snuck us in, and we finished getting dressed in the elevator. Then we got off the elevator, did our finishing touches in the hallway, and walked into this patient’s room and performed. The nurses and orderlies heard and saw us, and they were like "Oh, can you come to the room down the hall? They would really love you.” And we had to say no, because we had to go and perform at the Palladium that night.
So, it was constant, and you had to step up. Because it was literally life-or-death. And that was daunting. But we had to keep moving because it wasn't only for us. It was for the community as a whole that we had to keep on moving."
— Connie Girl
"In the ‘80s, we were living a life no 18-year-old from anywhere could come and do now. In those days, you could pay a couple hundred bucks each month for rent and then go out every night for free: Palladium, Danceteria, Area, Pyramid, Boy Bar, all in one night.
We got really dressed up back then. I wore makeup everyday and walked everywhere in high heels. And we drank for free. If the doormen liked the way you looked, they’d invite you in. My friends and I got treated like stars. We’d go into places and be like, “Oh my god! There’s Grace Jones, and Warhol, and Debbie Harry, and Madonna, and Keith Haring.” And then, all the New York stars of the time were there, too. Like John Sex, Dianne Brill. And then you had the Boy Bar queens.
They were nightlife stars! We didn’t see them as any different than Grace Jones or other big stars hanging out in the clubs. They were all stars. You know, as a kid, I always thought of Divine as being a rock star. I never realized that Divine wasn't much different than Glamamore—except that she was working with John Waters and had the film success, you know? But like Divine, Glamamore’s a rock star who dresses in drag. And she’s no different than Cher, or Elton John, or Bowie. She’s just not maybe as famous as a Cher or an Elton or a Bowie, but she’s a star nonetheless."
— Miss Guy
Keep track of our progress
100 Queer & Trans Artists
225 Interview Hours
6,300 Pages of Transcriptions