The Empire of the Royal Soverign and Imperial Court of the Single Star, Inc
Our organization was formed in 1984 as The Imperial Court of the Single Star. In 1991, when we filed Articles of Incorporations with the State of Texas, our official name became The Royal, Sovereign, Imperial Court of the Single Star of Houston, Inc. Our application for tax exempt status has been filed with the IRS, and approved which changed our name to The Empire of The Royal, Sovereign, Imperial Court of the Single Star of Houston Incorporated. Locally and throughout the International Court system we are referred to as ERSICSS (pronounced ereeses).
As for our founding story, no one can speak better than our founder herself. Following is our story as seen through the eyes of Empress I and II.
"I think one of my letters in a Coronation program a few years ago best explained my beginning involvement with the International Court System and thus the founding of the Houston Court.
I had a dream of using my talents as a female impersonator in a way that would help others. After Jose I, The Widow Norton, asked me to start a Court in Houston, that dream became a reality. I worked, watched, and cried a lot as this group grew from less than ten members to the seventy-plus dedicated individuals we have today. Through the laughter and the tears, we have seen RSICSS become a very recognized organization within our Houston community and a respected segment of ICS. We have seen the humble few dollars that we were originally able to raise grow to tens of thousands of dollars each year for those in need in our local community. We have watched numerous people develop hidden talents for our fundraising efforts. More than any of these tangible things, we know that we helped to make life easier for some who so desperately needed our help. For these reasons, I feel that my childhood dreams of becoming "a princess...or a queen...or one day the Empress of an empire" are being fulfilled each day through the efforts and dedication of those who comprise RSICSS.
I gratefully acknowledge the trust put in me by Jose in our early days, but just as many thank-yous are to be extended to each person who has helped raise even one dollar through our Court for our local 501c3 charities, and to everyone who has helped make the RSICSS Founderâ€™s dreams continue to come true.
With dedication and devotion,
Laura Lee Love"
At the time of our founding, our community entertainers were already doing much to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS and those affected. Our organization became a place for those entertainers to combine their talents, ideas, and efforts to better assist our community. The community was skeptical at first. But through the hard efforts and persistence of our membership, "the Court" remained and began to grow into one of the premiere organizations in the City of Houston. Our community was frustrated, sad and angry. These were the early days of HIV, and we were losing people daily. Few knew which direction to proceed. The membership of the Imperial Court of the Single Star knew that the only direction was ahead. So we continued to move forward attempting to grow and prosper as individuals and an organization, while helping to improve the lives of those people in our community in need.
When our first monarchs stepped down in 1987, we had approximately 15 members. By the time of our incorporation in 1991 that number had grow to 45. Currently we have approximately 75 members with more growth expected.
Our structure consists of a Board of Directors. This Board. The daily affairs of the organization are overseen by a 8 member Board of Directors elected by the general court membership from within our membership roster. These directors serve 3 year terms with at least two members rotating out each year. Initial membership in our organization is open to anyone of the age of 21. Meetings are held monthly and are open to the public, voting at meetings is restricted to active members in good standing.
We currently operate as a non-profit organization within the State of Texas, and we are also a 501c3 organization with the IRS.
Our court distributes funds throughout the year to direct beneficiaries, as well as our reign beneficiaries who receive their funds at our annual investiture. Although our beginnings were meager we are proud to say that our donations back to the community currently average approximately $65,000.00 per reign.
Reign I (1984-86): Emperor Kelly; Empress Laura Lee Love; Regent Marty Rocha
Reign II (1986-87): Emperor Marty Rocha; Empress Laura Lee Love
Reign III (1987-88): Emperor Rudy Young; Empress Eydie Mae Sugarbaker
Reign IV (1988-89): Emperor Ken Jenkins; Empress Janee Johnson; Regent Dale Glenn
Reign V (1989-90): Emperor Tom Browning; Empress Jerisa Nicole Sugarbaker (et al.)
Reign VI (1990-91): Emperor David Alwell; Empress Coco Marie Sugarbaker
Reign VII (1991-92): Emperor Steven C. Wright; Empress Lady Victoria Lust (No Regent appointed)
Reign VIII (1992-93): Emperor Frank Pierce; Empress Pittypat Magnolia Sugarbaker
Reign IX (1993-94): Emperor Giovanni Lamond; Empress Regina Dane
Reign X (1994-95): Emperor Deb Dillehay; Empress Damita Jo
Reign XI (1995-96): Emperor Jerry Morin; Empress Crystal Rae Lee Love
Reign XII (1996-97): Emperor Jim Halbert; Empress Ruby Stone
Reign XIII (1997-98): Emperor Jerel McNeil; Empress Anita Mann
Reign XIV (1998-99): Regent Emperor Buddy Thompson (bestowed full title at step down); Empress Jennifer Ellsworth
Reign XV (1999-2000): Emperor Bob Bouton; Empress Renee Monroe
Reign XVI (2000-01): Regent Emperor Larry Spriggs (bestowed full title at step down); Empress Selena St. John
Reign XVII (2001-02): Emperor Wes Stewart; Empress Barbara Walker
Reign XVIII (2002-03): Emperor Sean Carter; Empress Shelby St. John; Regent Emperor Woody Stiner (appointed in June, 2002 - bestowed full Emperorâ€™s recognition in September, 2002)
Reign XIX (2003-04): Emperor Ronnie Siebert; Empress Sofonda St. John
Reign XX (2004-05) Emperor Daryl Qujiano; Empress Stella Link SeVille
Reign XXI (2005-2006) Emperor Christopher Garrett; Empress Jackie Evelyn Thorne.
Reign XXII (2006-2007) Regent Emperor Ronnie Siebert(bestowed full title at step down); Empress D.D. DeMarco
Reign XXIII (2007-2008) Emperor Chris Beck; Empress Shy Anne
Reign XXIV (2008-2009) Emperor Bob Skinner; Empress Kimberly Anne O'Neil
Reign XXV (2009-2010) Emperor JP Gill; Empress Marcia Mink Anne Gill
Reign XXVI (2010-2011) Emperor Falcon; Empress Sheri Anne Bouton
Reign XXVII (2011-2012) Emperor Scott Kenyon; Empress Lillian Deveraux
Reign XXVIII (2012-2013) Emperor Chris "Sushi" Valk
Reign XXIX (2013-2014) Emperor Craig W. Rae; Empress Mona Lott Gill
Reign XXX (2014-2015) Emperor Royce Wood; Empress Amber Anne Foxx Dion
Reign XXXI (2015-2016) Emperor Susan Hayes; Empress Angela Mercy
Reign XXXII (2016-2017) Emperor Domenic Cusano; Empress Monica Paredes
During Reign I our monarchs served at the request of our mother court, the Imperial Court of Ft. Worth. For Reign II our monarchs were elected by our membership. Public voting for our monarchs began with Reign III, and took place at our coronation. This continued until the election of monarchs for Reign IX when we began having our public voting one week prior to coronation. This continues to be our voting procedure with the addition of an absentee voting day usually held 2 weeks prior to coronation.
In the beginning our coronation was held the last weekend of January at a local hotel with our other festivities (out of town show/brunch) being held at a local bar. We still hold our coronation near the end of January, but with all events taking place at our host hotel. The theme for the coronation is selected by the newly elected monarchs and announced at the Victory Brunch held the Sunday morning following our Saturday night Coronation Ball.
We raise monies through a variety of activities including drag shows, raffles, silent auctions, garage sales, Car washes and any other way we can come up with to raise just "one more dollar."
Some of the organizations/causes we have raised money for are: The Montrose Clinic, The Bering/Omega Foundation, The Colt 45â€™s, The Garden Party, Miss Camp America, The Assistance Fund, Pet Patrol, Montrose Clinic Womenâ€™s Health Initiative, MCCR, GLOBO, The Pride Committee, The Montrose Activity Center, The Houston GLBT Community Center, NLA, PWA Coalition, Community Awareness for Transgender Shelter, Casa de Esperanza, The Names Project, Unhinged Productions, Fairy Godmothers, Stone Soup Food Pantry, PWA Holiday Charities, PAWS, Wishful Thinking Fund, AIDS Foundation Houston, Camp Hope, H.A.T.C.H., AssistHers, as well as many other worthwhile causes.
We have been blessed to have a good working relationship with the majority of the bars/clubs in our realm. Some of these include Bacchus, The Briar Patch, The Brazos River Bottom, The New Barn, Cousins, Chances, EJâ€™s, Decades, The Outpost, The Guava Lamp, Bricks, The 611, Gentrys, The Lazy J, The Exile, Pacific Street, Richs, Rubios, Club Kilipso, The Pink Elephant, Marys...Naturally, Sunset Blvd. and Saloon, Ranch Hill Saloon, Meteor, The Shady Tree, George, Tony's Corner Pocket, Crocker, Whispers and countless others to which we remain enormously grateful.
Our organization has worked with and within our community to assist those in need. We have served as one of the leading organizations for female impersonators to combine their talents for a common goal. We also serve as a surrogate family for our members and our community always being ready to help where help is needed.
The colorful personalities who have been members of our court are many. To describe just a small amount of them would fill a book. Some of our firsts include:
Jackie Thorne, our first Transgender member - Jack has been a member for more than 15 years and currently serves as Ambassador to Galveston and the Transgender community.
Our Miss Brookes - a kindly, elderly gentleman from England who served as our very first Queen Mother. The guidance and support provided by this man helped many a monarch before he moved back to England. He was named Queen Mother for Life and continues to check on his children from his home across the big pond.
Dot Thompson and Jeanette Vaughn - These "Jose Honors" recipients were the first from our organization to be so honored. Dot and Jeanette were a lesbian couple long before many of our members were ever born. Their love and support for each other, as well as our organization and community let to them receiving lifetime titles within our court to add to their many other recognitions.
Our history has been long and varied. We have faced and overcome many obstacles in our attempt to help those in need. We are proud to be associated with the International Court System and consider our affiliation with them to be one of our highlights. As we prepare for Coronation XXXII we cannot help but to look back with amazement at where we have come from, but it is with pride, excitement, and anticipation that we look to where we are going.