Drag queens aren’t exactly a rare commodity in Los Angeles; anyone who lives near Santa Monica Boulevard can attest to that. But drag queens who help raise substantial sums of money for charity every week, now that’s a different story. Scott Presley is just that kind of drag queen. Born into a Southern Baptist family, Presley stumbled upon the allure of drag while enrolled at the University of Kentucky.
“A college bar there had a talent night every week,” says Presley. “Someone dared me to go as a drag queen. I did and I won. That weekend I started working at the bar in character.”
Years later he moved to L.A. to pursue acting, but continued with drag and developed The Fabulous Belle Aire, a sassy queen whose Southern twang, charm and many costumes earned her a devoted fan base. “The makeup always stays the same,” says Presley, who was a guest star last season on UPN’s America’s Next Top Model, “but I have about 30 wigs and many outfits so I rarely repeat a look.” In 1998, he linked up with Jeffery Bowman, founder of Legendary Bingo, and began co-hosting Bowman’s events as Belle Aire. Held every Wednesday night at Hamburger Mary’s, Bingo became a must on WeHo’s to-do list. It draws capacity crowds every week, with proceeds from the game benefiting local nonprofits or needy members of the community. To date, the duo have raised more than $800,000.
“I don’t have the monetary means to support charity. So to be a small part of raising that much money is amazing,” says Belle Aire with a deep-throated chuckle. “It’s good karma.”