The local Pride celebration just got a little bit more fabulous. Enter Barbi Mitzvah and Celeste L Powers, a couple seven-plus-years strong, who also happen to be members of the Sisterhood of Perpetual Indulgence—a 501(c)(3) founded in the late '70s by drag nun activists with the intent to "promulgate universal joy, expiate stigmatic guilt and serve the community."
Since its inception, the Sisters—with their trademark habits and genderfuck make-up—have become a worldwide powerhouse with regional missions populated by the hundreds.
The burgeoning Santa Fe Order has just two.“We consider ourselves sacred clowns or street theater activists,” Sr. Barbi said as she adjusted her red frock last Thursday night at the Divas show at La Casa Sena cantina. “We’re volunteers at our core and raise a lot of money for underfunded groups. We help out whenever we can; we just do it with a lot more fabulosity than most people,” she pointed out.
“I grew up in Santa Fe, so for me it was really important to come back here,” Sister Celeste, a body-worker by day, added. “We’re sort of feeling out the community to see where we’re needed the most, participating where we can, and possibly starting our own order.”
Both taking a sip from their Ricky Martini (a cucumber-infused, chili-rimmed concoction), the couple explained that much like their Catholic counterparts, would-be members must go through a rigorous yearlong program that takes them from aspirency, to postulency, novice and then fully professed Sisters.
“It’s very refreshing; it’s like a little big small town,” Barbi, a recent San Francisco transplant said of Santa Fe. “A lot of people recognize us, and the other ones just cannot figure us out and are curious to know what we’re about. I think we’ll make a big splash.”
Part of that splash is leading the Pride parade this year, carrying the rainbow flag.
“I’m just beside myself,” a giddy Sister Celeste said, adding that the honor is double-fold, as the standard was created by Sister Chanel 2000 (aka Gilbert Baker) in 1978 and is deep-rooted in sistery.
For Barbi, future plans also include the inception of a regular Sister bingo fundraising night.
“I think that Santa Fe is ready for it,” she said. “I’ve helped other orders in several cities get one going, and not only would it be very entertaining, but also raise a lot of money for charity.
“It’s kind of like an interactive cross between The Sound of Music and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”