Kurtis – the artist behind the infamous Miss Fame – often reflects on his childhood and the “woman that shaped him.” He grew up on a farm hours from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and was drenched in small-town politics.
He says he was targeted for his sensitive personality and love for fashion and makeup. Despite the homophobic tendencies of his neighbors and even some family members, Kurtis let his art guide him. When he was young he would dabble with his Aunt’s cosmetic products. He also asked another Aunt to bleach his hair blonde much to the distaste of his grandfather.
“I was raised by powerful women. A lot of my aunts, grandmothers and sisters who raised me, taught me about being a woman and about the gentleness and the strength of being a woman, which is what I lean towards and what is more relating to my identity.”
Kurtis identifies as gender fluid. He likes to push boundaries of his identity and test gender norms through creative outlets such as drag and modelling.
Kurtis had never considered modelling until he posed for a friend in 2011. Slowly his journey began, but it wasn’t truly until he started drag did his modelling career skyrocket.
“I wanted to model, I wanted to be able to be in front of cameras, I wanted to be able to work with photographers that I respected when I was a kid.”
Originally agencies weren’t interested in Kurtis – “a thin, tattooed guy with a mo-hawk dressed in black most of the time.”
The creation of Miss Fame provided a unique alter-ego for Kurtis. Making her more than just a drag persona, but a part of his true identity.
Miss Fame was signed by IMG Models 2 years before her appearance on Ru Paul’s Drag Race. She is still signed with IMG in Paris and recently was picked up by Wilhelmina Models in New York.
Miss Fame holds a spot on the boards of both agencies.
“I am a model.”
“I’ve done enough work, with enough legit names and brands in this industry, that I get to call myself that.”
She served as a spokes-model for L’Oreal Paris in 2016. Through this career opportunity Miss Fame became the first drag queen to attend the Cannes Film Festival.
No more than a year later Miss Fame became the first drag queen to walk a runway at London Fashion Week.
Defender of the Queer Community
In July of 2017 US Vogue ran a gender fluid-themed story featuring Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik. The celebrity couple were titled as a symbol of gender fluid identity. Miss Fame called out Vogue for exploiting and misrepresenting the queer community. During this time the renowned Drag Queen was to be featured on the cover of Vogue Germany.
The print was to consist of a ten page spread covering Miss Fame’s transformation from Kurtis to drag supermodel. The editorial was a massive career move, but Kurtis stood by his morals and risked the repercussions to speak out against the publication.
“I didn’t care to lose. I’d stand for truth,” he said.
“That’s more important than the validation I got for being in the editorial. I loved the editorial, but truth is what we should all stand for, and that was where I felt like I started to have more purpose, when my identity started to make more sense to me.”
Miss Fame uses her social media platforms to share her best looks and skin-care routine.
Her Instagram is also a place of transparency. She often posts images with commentary shedding light on her battles with alcohol and addiction.
“If you have struggles with addiction, depression or a history of trauma, know that there is hope. That life can be yours, with the right support and help, we can heal.”
The 22nd of September 2019 marked 14 years sober for Miss Fame.
She uses her experience to encourage her fans to have hope and strength. In a world that still has difficulty to accept and love, Miss Fame tries to act as a source of support for those who need it.
During Miss Fame’s time on the reality show hit “Ru Pauls Drag Race” she was known as the “look queen.” Her style was always impeccable and her makeup perfected. In an ironic twist of fate Miss Fame’s last episode was a John Waters-inspired challenge where the queens had to look “ugly.”
Unable to pull off such a thing, Miss Fame was eliminated.
Is it any surprise she has created her own beauty line? As an artist, makeup artist and drag queen, it was only fitting she took her turn at cosmetology.
Miss Fame Beauty launched late 2018 and instantly skyrocketed. Her lipstick collection was inspired by the bold behavior of drag.
Miss Fame proudly admitted that perfecting the cosmetic items was a labor of love.
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