By John Hayden
The pomp! The pageantry! The philanthropy! Fresh off its investiture ceremony at Richardson Park, the Imperial Sun Court of All Florida is planning a calendar packed with campy events. The reigning Empress and Emperor, RaeJean Cox, and Michael “Imperial Mike” Cyrus, talked with OutClique about their ambitious plans for the next year of their reign. “Our motto is raising one dollar at a time through the court for the community,” Michael says.
The Sun Court raises money for local organizations including Compass, Smart Ride, Trans Social, and more, and they do it in some of the most outrageous ways imaginable. They’ve been keeping up the camp despite a pandemic. “During COVID we had restrictions that you can’t have more than 10 people at a house. So we’ve had events online because we had no choices.” Some of those events included an imperial dress sale featuring frocks from some of the most fabulous queens around. They also had a Cannonball Splash, with contestants in full drag regalia. RaeJean says it really made a splash. “We were going in. We didn’t care if wigs popped off, jewelry popped off. When you come out of the pool, that’s a different story. Make sure everything’s put back in place.” Fans watched online, commented on the efforts, made donations, and bought shots for the judges and jumpers.
They hope to make Cannonball Splash an annual event, and now that we’re closer to large gatherings being safe, the court is once again thinking big! “We have two big fundraisers we’re trying to get up and off the ground. The Caddyshack Challenge,” RaeJean dished, “is about golfing. We’re gonna take it to the golf course. We also put together a Go-Kart Grand Prix. We’re going to have different heats, and get drivers. Decorate your helmets!”
If it all seems over the top, well, Michael says that’s the point. “It’s brainstorming for charity ideas and following through with the ones that simmer to the top. Whether or not we’re making $200 on an event, $100 on an event, or $3,000 on an event, it takes a huge team of people. This cannot be done by a select group of three or four.”
RaeJean says their chapter is a model for the dozens of other Imperial Courts across North America. “We’re trying to do new stuff that the other courts haven’t done. They look to us as those crazy Florida people are just down there having a blast. And that’s what it’s supposed to be about.”
Both RaeJean and Michael are continuing their reigns from last year, a slight break in tradition. But because Covid disrupted so much, they say there is still much they want to do. “We feel like our work’s not done yet,” RaeJean said. “Because we’ve been in the middle of COVID we’ve only been able to do a small portion of what we want to for community outreach because we’ve been so clamped down.” Michael added, “We missed out on all the normal regalness of traveling to the other courts, doing parades, doing stuff that we had planned to do. We basically had to withdraw, brainstorm, and then come back out and figure how we’re gonna raise money. And we did a pretty doggone good job. Now it’s about rekindling relationships out in the community while raising money for the charities.”