There’s a small, unassuming house on a quiet, suburban street in Aurora. Drivers cruising past wouldn’t stop to marvel at its basic exterior. The street, and all the houses on it, are modest in size with respectable yards, affordable for families that can’t swing the major price tags of newly-built homes in Denver.
But there is something special about this particular house. Instead of the typical straight Colorado couple with 2.5 kids and an Australian Shepard, it houses artists, musicians, and entertainers who have transformed it into a queer home.
Early in July, the 400 block of North Revere Street got a taste of the queer life that fills one of the average-looking houses. Music drifted from the backyard, along with the smell of sweet barbecue and spilled tequila. A birthday was being celebrated, and spirits were high among the DJs, drag queens, friends, and lovers.
Melisa Masters, birthday-gal extraordinaire and a local Aurora real estate agent who identifies as lesbian, purchased this home when she moved to Denver after a bad breakup in Texas.
“Now all my exes are in Texas,” she said, followed by a laugh. “So I decided to come here and make this place my home.”
As a pillar of the Aurora queer community, a community that is without any set gathering spots such as LGBTQ bars or clubs, Masters opened the doors of her home to numerous LGBTQ entertainers. These entertainers live in Aurora but work regularly in Denver’s queer nightlife, a career path that can be lucrative at times, but tenuous at others. Almost by accident, she now has a drove of drag queens and DJs living in her place, and she became a Drag Mom to young queens who need safe rides to and from gigs.
“Some people are Soccer Mom; I’m Drag Mom,” she explained. “I’m not sure how it happened; I didn’t even used to like drag queens. Now I’ve somehow decided it’s my duty to get them where they need to go and give them a place to stay.”
Masters didn’t get annoyed or agitated by the drunken shenanigans going on at her birthday party, or the sloppy, drunken cake eating, despite the fact that she is a diabetic, which keeps her away from alcohol and sweets. And no one was disrespectful, always stopping to chat with her for a moment and making sure to give her a hug goodbye before heading out for the night.
“I just love having all of these people around me; they are my family,” she said.
One member of that family is recent Colorado drag sensation Jessica L’Whor, born Zachary Sullivan. L’Whor identifies as a cisgendered gay man, but feels extremely comfortable in drag. A young, emerging drag queen, L’Whor only recently came out and needed an affordable place to live where she could explore drag and living as an out, gay man. Masters provided L’Whor with a place to be herself.
Sitting at the table with no trace of drag makeup or accoutrement, L’Whor appeared young and small in stature. Transformed into full drag mode, however, her heels and hair give her height, and her stuffed curves give her girth — a beautiful, sashaying queen in full bloom. Donning small glasses and a tank top, she appears a young man with the world ahead of her. She is comfortable and completely relaxed.
“I came from a place of hating drag,” she admitted. “Before I started drag, I actually found it to be disgusting, didn’t want to be around it, wanted my friends to turn off RuPaul’s Drag Race if they were watching it. Then I started dating a guy who was really into drag and took me to my first show and I fell in love. So immediately after that show, we went to WalMart and got makeup, a bra, and a shirt and tried it out. I loved how I looked in the mirror and got kind of addicted to the look. My boyfriend at the time told me not to drag because I wouldn’t be able to pull it off or do it. It became something I started doing regularly as a job, though. I transitioned from a hate of it to a love of it.”
L’Whor now very much has her own style when she does drag. As a self-described chameleon in drag, she is never afraid of looking ugly or transforming into a glamorous, elegant woman.
“I try not to stick with one style.”
She is currently making her living from drag, which is quite an accomplishment. Even though drag has skyrocketed into the mainstream and queens are making a lot of money touring the world, it is still a job that relies on tips — not to mention that drag ain’t cheap.
Masters drives L’Whor all across the state to shows and to the airport when she needs to fly to places like New York or Washington, D.C.
Originally from Fort Collins, L’Whor recently made the permanent transition to the Denver Metro Area to be closer to gigs. However, she is happy living out in Aurora where the cost of living is a little more manageable. As a local resident, she will be performing at Aurora Pride to help represent her community.
“I think it’s going to bring together a community of people in Aurora that I haven’t met or been exposed to,” she said regarding Aurora Pride. “This allows me to meet allies and queer people in Aurora that I can educate and interact with.”
Although L’Whor laments not knowing enough queer people and allies in Aurora, she already lives under the same roof with some of the major players.
Blondetourage, the “wifey DJ duo” who have made a name in Denver with their catchy beats and iconic appearance, are housemates to L’Whor. The two became a couple before they established themselves as a collaborative musical entity, although they met because of the local entertainment industry.
“I thought she was rad,” said Bria Miracle of her wife and DJ partner Erin Beeler. “I thought she was cool and I didn’t know how to talk to her but I thought I’d say something.” The pair at first were friends, and both dabbled in DJing — Bria in her living room, and Erin at Blush & Blu. A few years later, Erin invited Bria over with an offer too good to resist.
“She said ‘hey, I have some puppies at my house; we should hang out,’ and I said ‘I’ll be there as soon as I possibly can.’ Since then, it’s been a sleepover every single night ,” Bria said.
The two became an official couple and then decided that the idea of playing music together just made sense. At the beginning of the relationship, Erin invited Bria to collaborate with her during a DJ set at X Bar on the 4th of July. Thus, Blondetourage was born.
The two eventually moved out to Aurora, into Masters’ house, for the camaraderie and affordable rent.
At the birthday party, the duo casually lounged in backyard chairs, completely at ease together, picking up in conversations where the other left off, just as they do with live DJ sets. Their hair was a matching bleach blond, and their nails matched, too, a glittering manicure. Even when they showed their nails to friends around the house, the two seemed perfectly in sink, best friends as well as business partners and a married couple.
Like many queer couples in Aurora, however, the two feel there is a lack of community in the city, due to the fact that there are no LGBTQ bars or meeting places in town, and would like to know more about their friends and neighbors.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone that comes and getting to know people within our community,” Bria said. “Not that Denver isn’t our community, but it’s cool to know that some people live in Aurora. That has been kind of a disconnect because when we moved to Denver we were both 17 and moved to Cap Hill. We kind of created our communities around us, and now we think it’s nice to have a back yard and be able to find parking, but we aren’t really making those connections out here like we were in Denver.”
The two are excited to come out to Aurora Pride and to be one of the headlining entertainment acts.
“We are pretty much one of the gayest houses in Aurora,” Erin said. “They should probably just have a Pride parade down our street. We have Melisa, who is Drag Mother: Queen of the Gays. I feel like the Aurora Pride thing just fell into our lap. We didn’t even know it was happening, but we were like, ‘We live here; we should DJ!’ We always DJ for Denver Pride, too, so it seemed to make sense.”
In a metropolitan area where each neighborhood offers its own exciting features and entertainment, it isn’t surprising that hidden pockets of queer culture like the one in Melisa Masters’ house exist. On August 5, some of those pockets of culture will come together, possibly for the first time.