It started in the early ’70s. Bronzie De’Marco saw her uncle premier as the first Black drag queen in Huntsville. Today De’Marco celebrates her own career that spans over 50 years. Her illusions include Minnie, Patti, Whitney, and Diana to name a few, and she is an advocate for living an authentic life. Understand, “illusions” differ from impersonations. “I’m not just a look-alike; I become the celebrity I perform.” De’Marco indicates. “I have performed in houses from South Carolina to San Francisco. “I’ve worked at the Pinnochio in San Francisco and the Evening at La Gage.” De’Marco is unapologetic, trans by identity, and she is an iconic Drag Queen from the Bible belt.
De’Marco was featured in a video by reckon, AL.com. She pronounced that “a day without drag would be a day without sunshine.” Her uncle, Frank Shelby, (drag name, Francesca LaSalle), was the first Black drag queen in Huntsville and is De’Marco’s inspiration. and At age 10, De’Marco would sneak into drag clubs with her uncle. “My grandmother thought we were at the movies, ” admits De’Marco. “I would blackmail my uncle into taking me to the clubs.” At the clubs, De’Marco felt insulated and accepted. De’Marco saw her uncle perform in Huntsville, and knew that spotlight belonged to her too. That spotlight filled the void she felt in society. Through drag, with makeup and costume, De’Marco could transform. “I could be whoever I wanted to be.”
Throughout her childhood, De’Marco was bullied for being gay. Defiantly, De’ Marco would always “fight back.” She always knew who she was, but her world would not accept her. Coming from a dysfunctional family, De’Marco found her way to drugs and was “in and out of prison a few times.” Admittedly remorseful and now sober, De’Marco finds refuge in drag, enabling the light that shines within her to be given to the world. Her light has been emboldened for her nephew, Nigel Shelby.
On April 18, 2019, Shelby committed suicide at age 15. He was an openly gay Freshman in high school and was bullied, first in De’Marco’s hometown, Florence, then Shelby’s own hometown, Huntsville, AL. Unlike De’Marco, Shelby was shy and would not fight back. De’Marco did all he could to support Nigel in life, and when he died, De’Marco dedicated her performance in the Birmingham Pride concert to Nigel. “This (was) the 50th year Anniversary for Pride,” De’Marco indicates. “It (was also my 50th year in entertainment.” De’Marco continues to be outraged as he advocates for Nigel and those who can’t stand for themselves.
De’Marco is a frequent figure at rallies, memorials, and protests for social justice. As a “Drag Mother,” De’Marco is a beacon to other young performers. She claims many young performers as her “children,” but when it comes to performing, her children need to watch and learn from a legend.
The legendary Bronzie De’Marco
Video: Courtesy of reckon, AL.com
Vicki Goldston, aka, Victorine
GARDEN SPICES MAGAZINE
Vicki comes to us as a traveler who sees value in all creation, and she is always eager to see life through the eyes of other fabulous folks.
What an amazing person. I admire the bravery shown and the ability to share the truth and be a mentor to others.