Name a more prominent Long Beach drag icon than Jewels. We’ll wait.
Recently, we spoke to the queen herself about Long Beach Pride’s 40-year history and the importance of supporting the queer community—now more than ever—as a record wave of legislation stands to threaten the rights of LGBTQ+ people nationwide.
Long Beach, though, has long been a safe sanctuary for queer folks—the city’s LGBTQ Center has offered health services for 46 years, and more recently, its vibrant rainbow crosswalks have proudly displayed the city’s support for the LGBQT+ community for all to see.
That’s why Jewels landed here in 1998. She was in search of something she felt she lacked growing up in a religious family in “a tiny town in the middle of nowhere.”
Shortly after moving to Long Beach, Jewels attended her first Pride celebration.
“That was the first experience, you know, seeing a large group of people that I felt comfortable with and could be out and proud and celebrate my identity with,” Jewels told the Post.
“I made Long Beach my home, and Pride was a huge part of that,” she said.
Jewels’ journey into drag began at the Art Theatre on Fourth Street, where she would join the “shadow cast” of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
“And the group still exists, it’s called Midnight Insanity,” she said.
Before she turned 21, Jewels started working at Hamburger Mary’s, where she started performing, since she wasn’t old enough to be in a bar.
“And it took off from there,” she said.
In addition to performing weekly at the club, Jewels also now serves as the executive director of entertainment for Hamburger Mary’s International—the largest LGBTQ+ franchise corporation in the world. In that role, she’s been a part of many festivals and parades across the country.
Still, she says Long Beach Pride holds a special place in her heart.
“I definitely see Long Beach as a safe haven for being who you are,” she said.
Jewels is also the first queen to receive a key to the city.
OK, dry your eyes. It’s time for six very practical, very necessary Pride tips from Jewels.
- “Wear sunscreen, all right? Wear sunscreen. Even if you don’t think it’s sunny. A lot of times, Prides start out overcast and become sunny—because we’re by the beach. So wear sunscreen everywhere and then put on your costume and your fabulous decorations.”
- “Put your phone on airplane mode until you need to use it. There will be thousands of people on the parade and festival grounds and your phone will run out of battery looking for a signal.”
- “Wear comfortable shoes—lots of walking. We encourage everyone to take public transportation, our beautiful trains and buses and Ubers if you need to, but there is always lots of walking involved.”
- “Pride is in August—so, cool clothing and maybe your favorite parasol to protect from the sun.”
- “Hydration! Lots of water before you leave the house, lots of water throughout your day.”
- “If you’re going with a group, you need a designated meeting spot [in case] someone’s phone is not charged, if you get split up, you need a designated meeting spot that you agree to before you go.”
If you want to catch Jewels in Long Beach, you can watch her perform at Hamburger Marys every Wednesday night, Friday night as well as Saturday and Sunday brunch.