Worthie Paul Meacham, known as the iconic bawdy and buxom drag queen Momma, died today, his brother posted on social media.
“I just want everyone to know that my big brother Worthie Paul Meacham has passed away!! He will be truly missed by so many!!! SOUTH BAY!!! . You will now be with mom and dad . RIP”
A cause of death was not mentioned, but Meacham had been battling various health problems in the past few years, which he shared on his social media page.
His brother didn’t mention where Meacham died, though he moved to Long Beach in 2018.
Meacham was 62.
Meacham’s beloved Momma was born in July 1994 during Silver Lake’s Dragstrip 66 at the “Muscle Beach Bikini Party.” He called himself a late bloomer to the drag scene during an interview with LA Weekly.
“To be honest, it was not an easy start,” Meacham said. “I had a late bloom with my life in drag. I came from a very strict religious background. I was not at the gay clubs or bars or even out with my sexuality until way after my 20s had passed. I was scared I would go to hell.”
Dragstrip 66 co-creators Mr. Dan (aka Dan Derkacz) and DJ Paul V. (aka Paul Vitagliano) saw something immediately in Meacham, who was pulled onstage for the amateur contest, and he won.
When the host asked Meacham his name, he laughed and said, I’m old enough to be your mother.
The persona and the name stuck.
“On many levels, Dragstrip 66 and our crowd showed him that people could be happy and be their authentic selves and not be ashamed,” Vitagliano said. “From there, he went on to become this huge, beloved icon of our community.”
Momma was a huge part of the Dragstrip 66 family and performed almost every month for several years.
Momma was big and bawdy and larger than life, very much cut from the old Hollywood glamour.
In the early 2000s, Meacham also worked the perfect drag job, managing the Bob Mackie warehouse, EC2 Costumes.
During the early 2000s, Momma’s popularity from her Hollywood drag career was strong. She appeared at Dragstrip 66, Rage and Makeup and expanded her performances into Orange County.
Momma hosted the monthly gay event Club Lucky at the House of Blues Anaheim in the Downtown Disney District, which was adjacent to her favorite place on Earth. On social media, Meacham posted many photos of his Disneyland adventures.
“Disneyland was my favorite place to go,” Meacham told LA Weekly. “My mother would take me and sit with me in the Enchanted Tiki Room (my favorite attraction). When the bird chandelier came down from the ceiling, I told my mother, That is the greatest thing I have ever seen, and I must have one for Christmas.”
Apart from gay clubs, Momma was a popular host for charitable causes, particularly ones that supported AIDS/HIV services, such as Project Angel Food, where she was an ambassador.
Momma also was a staple at the LA Pride Parade for several years, starting in the late 2000s, where she helped MC the event.
When health issues prevented him from performing as Momma, Meacham sold most of his drag costumes, a 25-year collection, in 2019.
A celebration of life is planned for Nov. 4 at a Long Beach park. More details to come