While Gary Marion — known to his fans as Sushi, the Key West drag queen — has spent the better part of the last two decades as the “Grand Dame of Drag” at 801 Cabaret on Duval Street, it’s his New Year’s gig on CNN that made him a household name nationwide.
For 20 years, Sushi has been ringing in every new year at midnight being lowered in a big red shoe over the Bourbon Street Pub along Key West’s main street. The veteran drag entertainer, who married her longtime partner in 2015, says she won’t be giving up the gig anytime soon.
“I'll be doing the shoe till the day I die, darling,” Sushi said. “I'm turning into the old lady in the shoe.”
Sushi said she has been a “proud drag queen” for 34 years. For more than 18 of those years, she said she has been “fortunate enough” to run the 801 Cabaret to support her fellow drag queens.
Besides drag, Sushi is a frequent volunteer for several causes. She says she’s always tried her best to help others. “When I was in my teens, I found myself homeless like other young drag queens in the 1980s, so I've always tried to help people in need because I remember what it was like,” Sushi said.
Sushi helps with a lot of benefits in town, mostly AIDS Help and the Sister Season Fund.
“Key West as a whole raises money for people in need. That’s why I love it here,” Sushi said. “Helping others in need should be a requirement rather than a choice.”
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