Worthie Paul Meacham has reigned as “Momma,” one of Southern California's top drag performers, for decades, but recent health issues have inspired downsizing of belongings, including “over 25 years of drag.” This Saturday, for weekend two of Meacham's mega estate sale, there will be scores galore with everything from clothing to wigs to jewels to dolls up for sale. You're likely to hear the stories of the goodies you get from the queen herself as you shop, as we did last Saturday.
Meacham’s beloved character Momma was born one night during the good ol’ era of Los Angeles’ Gay 1990s at Silver Lake's Dragstrip 66, but expressing himself this way didn't come without challenges.
“To be honest, it was not an easy start,” Meacham says. “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 co-creators Mr. Dan and Paul V. saw something in him right away, Meacham says. He says Mr. Dan told him they noticed “the diva was working the room like no one else.” Dan pulled Worthie onto the Dragstrip 66 stage from the audience one night and “Momma” was born right then on the spot.
During the early 2000s, Momma’s Hollywood drag career was going strong. L.A. clubs such as Dragstrip 66, Rage and Makeup led to expanding her appearances into Orange County. Momma became a star hosting Club Lucky at Downtown Disney, adjacent to her favorite place on Earth. “One of my biggest joys has been working with Jeffrey Epstein, the creator of Gay Days at Disneyland,” Meacham tells us. “What seemed to start as a 'meetup' at Disneyland ended up being an annual three-day weekend event that people fly in from all over the world [for].
“I had a very normal upbringing,” Meacham recalls. “I grew up in Hermosa Beach. Disneyland was my favorite place to go. 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. During the early 1980s, when Disneyland offered annual passes to the public, I was one of the very first people in the entire world to buy one. The difference from now back then [was] it was only around $50 for the entire year.”
From movies (including the popular 2006 rom-com parody Date Movie) to awards (she won the Christopher Street West Harvey Milk Award during Gay Pride 2011) to modeling (including greeting cards) and endless hosting gigs (the first drag queen Tupperware parties), Momma has deep roots in the City of Angels. Her ancestry dates to the original Pico family (for which the boulevard is named) of Los Angeles, she says.
She also worked the perfect drag job, managing the Bob Mackie warehouse called EC2 Costumes back in the early 2000s.
Those who follow him on social media know of Meacham's recent health battles with bone disease. He may not perform as often as he used to, but now and again Momma comes out and, as an ordained minister since 1986, still performs wedding ceremonies.
For Meacham, what matters most is what you give back, such as raising millions of dollars for AIDS/HIV charities over the years, as Momma has done. Being there for people in need is what's really important to this performer, who always looks at the bright side. “I don’t want to be one of those negative queens,” Meacham says. “There are too many of those out there. I like to keep a positive attitude. It gets you further in life.”
This Saturday, see for yourself at Meacham's open-to-the-public Drag Queen Estate Sale held at the performer's home (rain or shine, it's all indoors) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 6553 Noble Ave., Van Nuys. More info on Meacham's Facebook page.