Long before drag was a mainstream source of entertainment brought to the masses by RuPaul’s Drag Race, Nina Montaldo was out in our community entertaining Denver audiences amongst a small group of female impersonators who challenged not only the status quo for entertainment but what it meant to be gay man and represent our community.
In the late 60s, when Nina began her career, it was very risky to do drag, as one had to wear three articles of men’s clothing to not violate the law. Most gay establishments were constantly under siege by law enforcement, as homosexuality was not looked upon in a good light. These rare and strong individuals found a family in the dressing rooms and on stage at the bars that are now long-gone.
Nina has persevered through five decades of entertaining as a female impersonator and is still at the top of her game.
She has graced the stage in countless bars, businesses, community events, and at the local, state, and national levels.
Nina has never forgotten her roots, as she was brought up as an orphan and lived her childhood and young adult life at Mount St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, which is still in existence in North Denver. With her upbringing, Nina has always had a special place for serving those in need and tries to extend a hand whenever possible. Nina has helped raise thousands of dollars for a variety of charities and causes, from PFLAG and The Colorado AIDS Project to Toys for Tots, the Children’s Hospital, The Michael J. Fox Parkinsons Association, The National Alzheimer’s Association, The Matthew Shepard Foundation, Breast Cancer Awareness, and so many more.
Nina has held several titles throughout her career. Those most closely associated with her are those with the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, where she has been an active member since its inception in 1973. She holds the titles of Princess Royal 7, Queen Mother 3, Empress 24, and was a member of the board of directors for 14 years. Nina was also crowned Miss Gay Colorado America 1980 as well as the Second Miss Gay Pride of all Colorado in 1989.
Nina has endured throughout the decades by constantly evolving with the times and styles without losing her signature flare for costuming and grace on stage.
She is a marvel in that she always delivers a performance at 110 percent and has in essence set the bar for all those who follow in her footsteps.
She is known for her beauty and charisma on stage and has a unique way of bringing the audience along for a great night of entertainment.
Throughout her career, Nina has created her own family known as “The House of Montaldo” which has close to 40 individuals whom she has chosen to be part of her legacy. Everyone within this group is honored to be part of this house as well as to help Nina’s legacy live on. Nina will be celebrating her 70th birthday in December, and it has been her wish to go on a cruise. So, 35 of her friends and family are heading out to sea in January. It is not an official gay cruise, but with Nina and her family in tow, it won’t be long before that will change on board the ship.
Long live the legend, our queen,
-Miss Nina Montaldo
Photo courtesy of Nina Montaldo