Remembering Momma, the legendary drag queen

Momma Worthie Paul Meacham

Momma performs at Club Lucky’s sixth anniversary party in March 2014. Photos: David M. Mosqueda

My heart has not been this heavy in some time. Learning of Worthie Paul Meacham passing has shocked me.

If you ask anyone, I have never stopped speaking of my dear Momma, and all the lessons she taught me.

I was a baby, 18 years old, fresh out-of-the-closet, dating some Disney cast member who said, You have to come to Club Lucky with me. Club Lucky was a monthly gay nite at the House of Blues Anaheim when it was Downtown Disney District.

I told my parents I was going with my friends to a movie night. Instead, we drove to Downtown Disney, and there she was. Momma took the stage and sang live.

She did a set of two songs: “Welcome to the Golden Horseshoe” and a Shirley Bassey song, “Big Spender.”

She was dressed in all black with white feathers, her Bette Taylor number. I was floored, and from that point forward, I kept going back. I never missed her show.

Then, somehow I found myself in her circle. She said hello to me as she did her rounds, and she fell in love with the young baby Latino gay before her.

Momma Worthie Paul Meacham at Disneyland

Worthie Paul Meacham, aka Momma, left, and David Mosqueda enjoy adventures at Disneyland in March 2014.

I was scared, lost, and enamored with her. She said, Next month get her one hour early, and I did. I was whisked upstairs and she said, “David, my handsome man,” and as would become tradition, I’d reply, “Is that you, my lovely?”

We were together every chance I had. Momma would teach me to do her makeup. Well, how she did her makeup. It was a simple look. It was her frozen look: Easy eyes, simple lip, not much blush, and of course, her signature deep news anchor contour.

“The same line Pat Sajak uses, except, of course, I look less like a woman than Sajak,” she said.

Momma had me practice makeup on her, a tool I’d take with me to other amateur and novice queens to help me get into gay bars before I was of age.

Once she said, “Bring your camera next time,” and then she made me her photographer. I followed her around at the sixth anniversary of Club Lucky and photographed every moment I could.

Momma believed in my ability to be an artist, and that I’d one day be a true cameraman.

When I wanted to be a screenwriter she said, “let’s get lunch.” She went through her phone.

“I’ll introduce you to this man and this man,” and she never broke her word to me.

I learned three valuable lessons from Momma, and I’ve used them as mantras:

  1. “No one is special. We are all mediocre, at best. Special is the teacher that uses her last cents to buy her kids supplies. Special is the mom singing her baby to sleep when she has work in a few hours. Special are the people that serve their community.”
  2. “Always pull focus.”
  3. “To outlive your legend would be a dangerous thing.”

I owe her a tremendous debt. She saved me. As a young queer boy that was struggling at home, I felt safe with my Momma.

May she rest. May she be at ease, and may she continue to feel loved.

About the author

David M. Mosqueda

David Mosqueda is a community sexual health worker, author, and filmmaker who was born and raised in Long Beach. He has spoken around the nation on HIV prevention, harm reduction, and queer inclusive care. On a warm weekend, you may see him strolling through the gayborhood or dancing the night away at Falcon North.

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