Sister Boom Boom
Sister Boom Boom, also known as Sister Mary Boom Boom, was the drag nun persona of astrologer Jack Fertig (February 21, 1955 – August 5, 2012), a retired member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Fertig was born in Chicago, Illinois. Often erroneously credited as a founder of the group, Sister Boom Boom actually joined the Sisters in 1980, several months after its founding. She left the order in the Spring of 1986. Her full name was Sister Rose of the Bloody Stains of the Sacred Robes of Jesus, which would trail into a sing-song cadence and a long fermata. This called for a short nickname.
In 1982, Sister Boom Boom ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors with agitprop campaigning tactics bringing humor and raising issues she felt were being ignored in the race. She won 23,124 votes with her occupation listed as "Nun of the Above". Five supervisors were elected; she placed eighth. After she started campaigning for mayor in 1983 against incumbent Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco passed an ordinance requiring candidates to use only their legal names on the ballot. This was commonly called the "Sister Boom Boom law".
Boom Boom wrote a theatrical-ritual exorcism of Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly performed in Union Square on July 13, the Friday before the 1984 Democratic National Convention before a crowd of 2,000. She is one of the characters in Emily Mann's play Execution of Justice about the trial of Dan White for the 1978 Moscone–Milk assassinations. George Moscone was mayor of San Francisco and Harvey Milk was the city’s first openly gay supervisor. In the Broadway production she was played by Wesley Snipes.
Jack Fertig retired Sister Boom Boom in 1985, and joined a sobriety program. Born to a Jewish father and a Christian mother, he converted to Islam in 2001. He worked as an astrologer until his death in San Francisco, California, from liver cancer on August 5, 2012.
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Sister Boom Boom. No large gathering in San Francisco's homosexual community, including the gay rights march planned for the day before the convention opens, would be quite complete without the appearance of a figure clad in a hiked-up nun's habit, black fishnet stockings, and a tightly drawn wimple that sometimes fails to hold in an unruly shock of red hair. These have become the transvestite trademarks of Sister Boom Boom, member of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence, and the drag creation of a 29-year-old astrologer named Jack Fertig. Part put-on artist and part self-promoter, Boom Boom sparks reactions that run the gamut from righteous outrage to raucous approbation. Outside San Francisco, Fertig's bizarre alter ego has come to symbolize a climate of tolerance gone haywire. Boom Boom's "order," which consists of about 20 other "nuns" who go by names like Sister Mary Media and Sister Sadie Sadie Rabbi Lady, has performed legitimate charity work by raising funds for AIDS victims and gay Cuban refugees. Fertig ran for the board of supervisors in 1982; with five seats open, he placed a respectable eighth, collecting 23,124 votes. Even some gays find it offensive when he wears a cross as part of his costume or mocks the sacred. But Fertig insists that he is genuinely, if not conventionally, pious. "The sisters share my own sense of absurdist theater," he says. "I believe that you can reach God through your own means."
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Fertig converted to Islam in 2001, and now works as an astrologer in San Francisco.