Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Mother has arrived. And Tamisha Iman is a matriarch like no other Drag Race queen before her. A 30-year veteran of the southern pageant circuit, she’s this year’s most seasoned competitor. But the word “mother” is more literal — and meaningful — to the Atlanta mainstay and cancer survivor, beyond a signifier of respect and dominance. With scores of children — some biologically her own flesh and blood, plus the 78 chosen kids she’s adopted into her family to carry on the legacy of the Iman Dynasty drag house — this legend has virtually shaped an entire Georgian generation with glitz and finesse.
Unlike most crowned leaders, however, Iman wasn’t born into a royal family. She describes her younger self as a “misfit,” an “impressionable” teen who left home at an early age and redefined family values for herself as she strived to work as an entertainer. She came out of the closet after having children of her own, rerouted her Hollywood dreams to find success as an artist in the queer community, and began taking in LGBT youth as a means to give purpose and direction to kids — 53 living, 25 who’ve since passed away — otherwise discarded by families who didn’t understand their identities.
“I showed all the misfits how to make a living,” Iman proudly declares. “I made sure my kids went to school, went to college, got great jobs…. people didn’t know how to connect with their gay kids, I was able to bridge that gap and allowed parents to see their child in a different light versus just seeing them as a gay individual. The dynasty is still growing and I’m so proud of it. When you speak of my name, you know my history, you know I didn’t just ‘go through’ situations, I overcame and brought the community with me.”
At 46 years-old, Iman is a seasoned queen who has competed in drag pageants since the late 1990s, Tamisha has her own drag dynasty, and makes all her garments from scratch.
As a pageant icon, bucking the norm wasn’t as well received. A prolific career filled with titles and earned admiration put power on her name, but her renegade ways made her an “outcast” among the old guard when she stood up to perceived injustices in the pageant system, and she took a 10-year hiatus from the scene. She eventually made a grand return in February 2020, using a feathered broom to literally sweep the stage to Ciara’s “Gimme Dat.”
“There’s an old saying that the old broom still sweeps,” Iman says. “I entered the pageant just to give back to the community, to show them I’m still that bad bitch, but that I still have a place in this industry if I choose to. It’s not about the winning, it’s about the community coming together, because people got out of their beds and rushed to that venue to see me because I’m respected in the community.”
Her season 13 sisters were well aware of — and slightly intimidated by — her name prior to the competition, but Iman says she provided a maternal energy as the girls bonded inside the Drag Race bubble, momentarily sheltered from the horrors of 2020, safe in mama’s arms.
“Drag is like sugar. It goes great with everything. So, in the midst of turmoil and negativity, drag just added a different element so you could breathe,” she says. “With all the elements going on in the world, we were still able to come together, different races, and uplift the choices we’ve made and bring some positivity to the community. Racism is out there, but guess what, bitch? I’m painted. It’s good to have a great distraction.”
Source: EW Press write-up.
Known for being cast on "RuPaul's Drag Race" thirteenth season.
NEW OR UPDATE REQUESTS | Revised: December 10, 2020 11:12AM