BHM Heroes: Sir Lady Java

During the month of February, BRTW ensemble members are selecting personal Black heroes to highlight everyday. These heroes may have spoken the magic words that first made them see their Black beauty, the people who inspired them to become artists, or even the person who taught them how to make proper mixed greens.

Born in New Orleans in 1943, Sir Lady Java was a trans performer, trailblazer and all around badazz. Her acts included impersonations, singing and exotic dancing. Java lit up LA in the 60’s and was romantically connected to Black Hollywood elite such as Redd Foxx and Sammy Davis Junior. She appeared in the 1976 blaxploitation film The Human Tornado, performed for her idol Lena Horne, and was even featured in JET magazine!

Los Angeles tried to come for her and her sistren with “Rule no. 9”, which made it illegal to ‘impersonate by means of costume or dress a member of the opposite sex’. To fight this, Java initiated a well-publicized 1967 rally outside of the Redd Foxx nightclub, where her act had been dropped because of the law. She also teamed up with the ACLU and their efforts, along with many others, led to the law’s repeal 2 years later.

BRTW celebrates the fly, fearless and fabulous Sir Lady Java for both her artistry and her activism, and wishes her the happiest of Februaries.

Stay tuned for the next BHM hero tomorrow!

Mieko Gavia
Ensemble Member