November 5, 1948
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Died||May 14, 2003 (aged 54)|
Manhattan, New York
Early life and career
LaBeija was born "William Jackson" in The Bronx. While LaBeija often presented as male, she preferred to be referred to by the feminine pronoun she. Around 1971, she took over from Crystal LaBeija as the head of the ball culture House of LaBeija (from which her surname was derived). She remained the head (known as "the Mother") for over 30 years.
LaBeija competed in numerous drag balls and was known for her Egyptian inspired runway performances. Over the course of her career, she won approximately 250 trophies. To earn money, she also produced drag balls and taught modeling.
Later years and death
LaBeija went on to meet her companion Pamela Jackson. They had a daughter together. LaBeija devoted much of her to her family, raising her daughter and stepson. In 1992 LaBeija’s companion died. As her own health declined, her children lived their maternal grandmother.
LaBeija suffered from diabetes mellitus type 2 and had both feet amputated as a result. She was largely bedridden for the last 10 years of her life. On May 14, 2003, LaBeija died of a heart attack at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan at the age of 54.
In popular culture
- Martin, Douglas (May 26, 2003). "Pepper LaBeija, Queen of Harlem Drag Balls, Is Dead at 53". nytimes.com.
- "Pepper LaBeija, 53; Queen of Drag Ball Scene in Harlem". latimes.com. May 29, 2003. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
- Doonan, Simon (June 16, 2003). "Pater Is Burning! Rad Dads in Drag". observer.com. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
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