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Go Forth….and Sin Some More

The Seven City Sisters are taking altruism to its limits while fulfilling their vows as members of the renowned the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Historically, before donning the habit, a nun must take three vows: of poverty, chastity, and obedience. As Whoopi Goldberg once said in Sister Act, “I am outta here with that.” 

For the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI) founded in San Francisco on Easter Sunday in 1979, their oath packs a different punch. They vow to Promulgate Universal Joy and Expiate Stigmatic Guilt. Say what? 

I had the opportunity to break down what this means and chat with two of the Seven City Sisters, Sister Gloria Holes (Jonathan Perez) and Sister Sacral Idgits DeMonica Influencia (Juan Estremera) about their new mission order within the SPI, the Harbor of the Immaculate Harlots. 

SPI describes themselves as a leading-edge Order of queer and trans nuns who are called to the vocation of fundraising, ministry, education, and, of course, looking fabulous. 

Just like their traditional counterparts, there is a process to the habit and a house and it is as a volunteer, then a postulant, a novice sister, and finally fully professed or black veil. 

The Seven City Sisters are novices on their way to becoming a fully professed house. They have spent the past year learning and preparing through the process of the aspirant primer by their two co-moms and guides, Sister Kim Boocha and Sister Ken Tagious of the Ladies of the Lake in Minneapolis.

Sister SIDMI explains, “We had to manifest out in town for a few months. They requested that we do it at least twice a month, which we well exceeded, for the community to get to know us. We chose our personal names, practiced our makeup, and did some volunteer work with local charities.”

But it’s also about being silly, something the Sisters take very seriously.

As Sister Gloria describes, “One of the things I did was orchestrate a kazoo and banjo song. I don’t know if it was meant to see if we were reading but it was like serious, kazoo song, then serious. It was really silly, and I love that part of it.”

Like their Mother House SPI, the Harbor of the Immaculate Harlots was voted in by the United Nuns Privy Council just after Easter this past year. There are currently seven other founding siblings to include four sisters (Sister Ivana Balls O’Plenty, Sister Cecilia Upton Noella Thompson, Sister Cain Tuckee, and Sister Tina Bortions) as well as Guard Ian Ada Galaxy, Brother Hal Naw Just Us, and Father NFG. 

“All nine of us have to do novice projects to become fully professed sisters. Not only does that help us in our growth but it helps the community exponentially. This community is going to thrive because we have to put the work in,” says Sister Gloria. 

The Seven City Sisters have already popped up all over Hampton Roads with support to the Transgender Assistance Program and Southeastern Transgender Resource Center on TDOR and TDOV. They were also at the memorial for Lex Walker, the LGBT Life Center Rose Soiree for Charles Kirtland, and Dining Out for Life. Upcoming events include chaperoning the PFLAG Rainbow Prom, Pride appearances, and the Hampton Roads Unity and Virginia Bear contests. 

At the beginning of any event the Sisters are available for blessings. They do not invoke religious entities of any kind. Instead it is tradition for Sisters to offer their version of an incantation. 

“We might say something like ‘By the power vested in me by nobody whatsoever, I bless upon you that you have the joy of the night and that you exude happiness, and you accomplish whatever you want to accomplish and go home not feeling guilty about it,” said Sister Gloria. 

When you encounter a sister in the wild, you are witnessing a manifestation which Sister SIDMI describes as “going out on the town and making a ruckus as sisters do.” 

While not required, a traditional manifestation includes the full clown white makeup face as well as a veil or headpiece and dress or caftan. Face must be earned beginning with lips and eyes until a sister is fully professed. 

Some sisters choose to use different face colors.

“I know Sister Ken Tagious has put on red makeup” said Sister SIDMI. “They do more of a monster look for their sister look. I know Sister Kim Boocha sometimes will do green makeup. She goes more for the broccoli or pickle. She’s the epitome of a comical nun.”

Cultivating a look is one of the most important parts of being a Sister. 

“Part of becoming a sister is learning who your sisterhood is,” said Sister Gloria, whose signature look includes mermaid scales painted on by contour which is a nod to the official mascot of their house. 

Sister SIDMI manifests as the beautification of a demon, and you’ll see her sporting her horns in all various forms. She’s also working on a crown of horns by way of inspiration from various scriptures. 

Being a spectacle means that each part of the Sisters’ looks is important. But it’s what’s inside the Sisters that should resonate the most within our community, beginning with their names. 

While Sister SIDMI’s name may be a mouthful, it carries significant personal meaning. As for the first part, this is her break from religion, not in a spiteful way, but with humor and wit.

“When you break it into Sacral Idgits, the literal meaning is holy idiots and I honestly believe that all humans are holy idiots. We are holy entities, our souls, spirits, consciousness, super ego, that higher elevation. Then you get into our id and our bodies and self and minds and our seven deadly sins, and that’s very much the idiot side of us. But you can’t be human without both.”

The DeMonica Influencia portion is an homage to her coming out story at 23. The name is Spanish for demonic influence which is what her mom said she was experiencing.  While deeply hurtful, Sister SIDMI decided to own it. “I’m going to turn it around and be the most benevolent, kind, charitable person who has been influenced by demons,” she said.

Sister Gloria likes to keep with the silly side of the order. Since her original drag name was Poodle Westminster, she thought about using Sister Westmister. Since she is very sex positive and teaches sex ed both in and out of the club, Sister Gloria Holes fit like a glove. 

The Seven City Sisters are fully ready to abide by the mission of the SPI using humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency, and guilt. Sister Gloria aptly describes this as “activism by visibility and protesting by visibility.”  

As for what the Harbor of Immaculate Harlots hopes to bring to Hampton Roads, Sister Gloria says it best: “Be nice to each other. In a world where there is so much discourse as a community, we need to stray away from that. I think that the sisters should be the glue of the community that keeps people together. I’d like us to be the glue that keeps everyone nice to each other.”

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