Juanita MORE!'s Pride and joy

  • by Christopher J. Beale
  • Tuesday June 20, 2023
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Juanita MORE! at her 2021 Pride party at Jones (photo: Gooch)
Juanita MORE! at her 2021 Pride party at Jones (photo: Gooch)

"My social life is just so busy, and at times intense," joked Juanita MORE!

The San Francisco drag legend was in mid-preparation for what is always, and promises to be, a wall-to-wall weekend of Juanita MORE! during this year's Pride celebrations.

The wall pun is intended, as it takes only a short walk through San Francisco to find Juanita MORE! enshrined in a (growing?) number of murals scattered around town. MORE! is both an icon and iconography.

Juanita MORE! at her 2021 Pride party at Jones (photo: Gooch)  

Bay Area Roots
"I was born and raised in the East Bay and have been coming to San Francisco since I was a young queer kid," MORE! reminisced in an interview with The Bay Area Reporter. "Once I was old enough, I was running around SoMa and the Castro partying my ass off!"

MORE! wasn't even Juanita then, but after trying drag on for size she was soon making her name, face and mission known in the City.

"I am heading into my 31st year of doing drag in San Francisco," she said with a relaxed, matter-of-factness.

Outside of Pride season, MORE! hosts club nights and happy hours all over San Francisco. She also deejays, appears at numerous charity events and works as an activist. Pride weekend is the centerpiece of her fundraising and visibility. It's the weekend she prepares for all year.

Asked when she finds time to sleep, MORE! joked, "Well, I'm not working on Pride Saturday this year, so sleep will be happening then."

The team effort behind Juanita's packed Pride weekend had already begun weeks ago. Most of that preparation is around logistics like travel, and costume changes.

"I have close to 5,000 outfits from Mr. David Glamamore," MORE! beamed with pride. "We'll stop at my apartment, I will jump into something else, then go on to the next place. I am a super organized person. I have all my dresses hanging in my apartment with the jewelry and shoes in a bag for each."

Through all of her hustle and philanthropy, MORE!, whose recent highlight included reigning as SF Imperial Council's Empress for a year with Glamamore as Emperor, seems to be working toward leave a lasting legacy in San Francisco, not just in murals but in lives impacted.

Juanita MORE!'s legendary 'Ponys and butterfly' entrance at her 2018 Pride party at Jones. (photo: Gooch)  

Helping out
"We as queer people have so many issues whether it's depression, anxiety, substance abuse and trauma," said MORE! "I have suffered with a number of those myself." This year her Pride fundraising efforts are focused on raising money and awareness for an organization called Queer LifeSpace.

"I'm mom to so many people in San Francisco, and it's a responsibility I do not take lightly," Juanita said passionately. "I care about people's well-being, I like people to go in the right direction." That begins, according to MORE!, with good mental health.

"Queer LifeSpace is a nonprofit counseling agency that provides affordable, evidence-based mental health and substance abuse services to the LGBTQIA+ community in the Bay Area," according to www.queerlifespace.org. The group also runs an internationally recognized clinical training program for the next generation of queer-affirming therapists. These causes are close to MORE!'s heart.

"Knowing there is a place where you can go be yourself and talk about your mental health in an affordable, non-judgmental environment is really important," said MORE! "So that's why I chose Queer Lifespace this year."

Juanita MORE! (photo: Gooch)  

Into the streets
One of her now-annual events was born out of anger.

"The People's March started out after the murder of George Floyd," said MORE!, who has been front and center with the march's organizers since the beginning. This year's march takes place on Sunday morning June 25, and is led by a group of Black, brown and indigenous queer and trans people.

More of a protest than a traditional pride parade, The People's March will also include entertainment from DJ Black, Ariel Bowser, Lambert Moss, Khalibud, LBXX and Maya Songbird. The March itself will move down Polk Street, the city's original gay strip, and this year will end at the Fern Alley Music Series.

Then it's on to Jones, where Juanita's parties regularly sell out.

"For my 19th annual Pride Party on Sunday afternoon we are focusing on the amazing talent that is here, or was born here, in the Bay Area," said MORE!, who has stacked the lineup with DJs like Stanley Frank, Ana Matronic (Scissor Sisters), Sindri and LadyRyan.

"All of these performers are connected to me through the San Francisco club thing," beamed MORE!, "so it felt like the right way to go."

Pre-sale tickets for the day party are sold out, but there is one more opportunity to party for a cause with Juanita.

More MORE! Pride
For Pride 2023, Juanita is staying up late.

"I called Gina Milano who runs Halcyon," MORE! revealed. She'd been hearing of a demand for even more (if you'll forgive the pun) Juanita on Pride weekend, "and we weren't a minute into the conversation when I told Gina I wanted to do it at Halcyon."

MORE! said Milano was happy to open the doors of her SoMa nightclub for her unique brand of philanthropy.

"Halcyon is basically able to stay open 24 hours if they want," said MORE!, making it the perfect place for a party with a 6pm start that will pulse into the early hours of Monday morning.

"San Francisco doesn't always feel safe," MORE! admitted. The news around drag bans and trans rights hasn't been easy to digest, even in our queer bubble. "We have certainly seen incidents happen in the Bay Area already that have involved hate and violence."

But San Francisco is still one of the queerest places around, and with that comes a united sense of pride beyond that of being LGBTQ, but more being together, right now in this place.

"We've gotta help queer youth find a way to survive this," said MORE! "If you're a gay person and you're alive and you survived the AIDS crisis, you know what I'm talking about. There's a lot of fighting, a lot of struggling, a lot of loss. To have to experience some of this all over again is exhausting, even defeating at moments, but it's not enough to stop me."

The People's March begins at noon on Sunday, June 25 on Polk Street.

Juanita MORE!'s Pride Party is 12pm-7pm June 25 at 620 Jones; limited tickets at the door.

Juanita MORE!'s Night Pride starts at 6pm June 25 and goes until late at Halcyon, 314 11th St.


(Christopher J. Beale is an award-winning journalist, producer, audio engineer, and media host based in San Francisco. www.christopherjbeale.com)

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