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). He was a 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. He left the order in the Spring of 1986. His 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 he felt were being ignored in the race. He won 23,124 votes with his occupation listed as "Nun of the Above". Five supervisors were elected; he placed eighth. After he 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. He 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, he 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 had previously identified as Roman Catholic and as an Episcopalian. He never identified as a woman.
- Ryan Murphy, "Short Takes / Movies: Robin Williams Reassures 'Castro' Filmmakers", The Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1992.
- /Users/bjorndk/Desktop/jack fertig 2.jpg Dana Sitar, SF Weekly blog (August 7, 2012)
- "Boom Town: San Francisco Cracks Down". Time Magazine. April 11, 1983. Archived from the original on February 18, 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Bizjak, Tony (November 11, 1989). "When Sister Boom Boom sobered up he vanished from San Francisco Streets". Anchorage Daily News, reprinted from San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- "Jack Fertig". The Daily Telegraph. London. August 15, 2012.
Moritz, Michael; Dick Thompson; William R. Doerner (July 16, 1984). "What's Happening off the Floor". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on July 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
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."
- Shilts, Randy (November 27, 2007). And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 467. ISBN 9781429930390.
- Nolte, Carl (2003-11-26). "City Hall Slayings, 25 Years Later: Revisiting the horror of that day of death; for those who are old enough, the memory is searing". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Gussow, Mel (1986-03-14). "Stage: Emily Mann's 'Execution of Justice'". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Garchik, Leah (August 8, 2012). "Taking it all off in San Francisco". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Godfrey, Donal (2008). Gays and Grays: The Story of the Gay Community at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish in San Francisco. Lexington Books. p. 43. ISBN 9780739119389.
I feel supremely blessed to have found a home in this wonderful family of God and Humanity, this fallibly human, yet gloriously divine Roman Catholic Church.
- Nolte, Carl (August 7, 2012). "Jack Fertig - Sister Boom Boom - dies". San Francisco Chronicle.
He was at various times a Catholic and an Episcopalian, and he worked with Jewish organizations.
- Smillie, Dirk (2008). Falwell Inc.: Inside a Religious, Political, Educational, and Business Empire. Macmillan. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-312-37629-1. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
Fertig converted to Islam in 2001, and now works as an astrologer in San Francisco.
- Sistory of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
- Film of interview with Sister Boom Boom and Dianne Feinstein
- Oral history as part of California Revealed's GLBT Historical Society collection. Conducted by Roland Schembari