BABs of History: Lizzie Johnson

“BAB?? What’s a BAB?”

It’s a not a what, it’s a who – and she is a Boss Ass Bitch. This article is the start of a new PKC series where knowledge is shared on BABs throughout history that shockingly didn’t make it into our mansplained school curriculum.

First up is educator, entrepreneur, activist, and Taurus: Lizzie Johnson, the “Cattle Queen of Texas.”

Lizzie was born in 1840 in Missouri, but she moved to Texas at such an early age that she really did most of her growing in The Lone Star State. The daughter of teachers, she was quick to follow in their footsteps and became an educator at her parents institute for sometime before opening her own school in Austin. While Lizzie valued playing a part in educating the future leaders of America, she craved a life that was simply more. Her need for change, her general need for more, led her to a bookkeeping gig for numerous cattlemen that all held high status and great wealth in Austin. After a short time of being nose deep in these prominent cowboys’ accounting books, she thought, “Well I can do what these guys do, easy.”

And she did.

By her early thirties, Lizzie had bought her first ten acres of land and was among the first women to wrangle her own cattle along one of the major routes through Texas – the Chisholm Trail. Her success was revolutionary, her path was trailblazing, and while she was building this empire, she was still an educator and did not stop teaching at her school in Austin until well into her forties. Lizzie Johnson challenged societal norms, pushed through gender roles set before her, and was an activist with a passion for both women’s rights and additionally prison reform.

In the midst of expanding her business, Lizzie fell in love with widower Hezekiah Williams. But before she would marry him, our BAB, Lizzie, required a prenup that stated she would remain in full control of all of her finances and all of her property – Hezekiah couldn’t touch it without her say so.

Can we take a moment to applaud this revolutionary act that no doubt caused a ripple in the community? A woman in the 19th century not relinquishing control of her life to her husband?! Blasphemous!

This BAB said, “My blood, my sweat, my tears, my brain – my money.”

And honestly Hezekiah must have been a dope dude, because he signed it and they were happily married, boosting each other along their respective ambitions until his death in 1914. Her husband’s death absolutely crushed her, resulting in her to live her remaining ten years as what locals called her: a miserly recluse. I refuse to end her story on a sad note, so you should most certainly know that by the end of her life, old gal, Lizzie, had acquired 160 acres of land and amassed $250,000 which would convert to nearly $3 million today! And more notably, in 2013, she was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum.

. . .

What can be learned from Lizzie Johnson is that following familial traditions is okay up until the point which you find yourself unsatisfied. Don’t ever ignore the hunger inside you craving more, don’t ever try to tame your fire to make others feel comfortable – sort out what you want and create a realistic path of how you’re going to get there, then make it happen. Most of all, Lizzie is a prime example of all of the limitless possibilities that can happen when you know your worth.

. . .

Sources: Smithsonian Mag, WITH, Wide Open Country, TSHA

Making a Drag Queen: Euphoria MarxxX

Who is Euphoria MarxxX? A millennial drag queen that’s ready to shake up the political world? Most definitely. Someone ready to question the norms of society and how we view politics? Absolutely.

I met Kyle/Euphoria nearly four years ago while we were still bright-eyed, bushy-tailed seniors in college, studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France. We connected quickly thanks to our shared midwestern roots and a dark sense of humor that could make anyone squirm. We reconnected over zoom this week to trace the path from Aix to drag. This is her story.


Part One: Studying Abroad

B: What made you want to study abroad?
E: I really always wanted to. I wanted to study abroad in high school, but I thought that if I went then that I’d miss out on something. (Hello FOMO!) Look how great that turned out for me! When I went to college, I thought that maybe it was the best time. I pursued a Bachelor of Arts which required 12 hours of a foreign language. I decided my sophomore year that I would complete the entire requirement in one semester abroad. I’d taken french in high school so I knew I wanted to go somewhere french speaking. It worked out perfectly.

B: What was that experience like for you?
E: It was amazing – I want to go back so badly. There were obviously ups and downs, but overall it was such an amazing and life changing experience. It was culturally enlightening, we built friendships and had this whole experience together that no one else but our group had. We picked up our lives, moved across the world for six months, became friends for six months and then moved back to the States. It’s such a weird concept.

B: What about a favorite or least favorite memory?
E: I loved going out with our group in general. I loved going out and experiencing that social environment of living in a different country where everyone is speaking another language. It was definitely a culture shock. I loved our spring break trip – that will always be at the top of the list [read more about that here and here]. Except Bruxelles – nothing good happened there. As for least favorite, I once got on a bus to Bordeaux and our friend didn’t make it in time; I was horrified. I didn’t have any internet connection or a working cell phone, thinking ‘what am I going to do?’. I was honestly afraid that I’d go to this city and never make it back home.

B: If you could do it again, what would you change?
E: I would say that I’d want to go out and experience life more, but I feel like we did so much of that. We were always getting Crêpe à Go Go or pizza from Pizza Capri in town. I wish I would have stayed longer. I only stayed a week or two after classes were done so that I could be home to walk at graduation. If you’re thinking of about studying abroad, just do it. Don’t think about it. Figure out how to make it work and do it. It was such a liberating experience, even with the shitty parts I loved it. I look back on it so fondly now.

B: What was it like returning to Missouri after studying abroad?
E: I was going through a sort of transformation as a human being while studying abroad, I think. Right before leaving to study abroad, I was dealing with the death of my grandpa, the break up of my engagement and my ex’s mother passing so I was dealing with a lot emotionally. When I came back from studying abroad, I hadn’t really dealt with any of it yet, so it was a weird time. Within a year of coming home, I came out as gay. Around this time I started having a rift with my family because of their political views and homophobia. I decided to not deal with that sort of view or attitude in my life anymore. After I graduated college, I lived at home for maybe a month and then found a new place to live and moved out. That was one of the best decisions I’ve made, but coming back home was definitely hard.

B: How did your life/perspective change after studying abroad?
E: Studying abroad definitely made me a more liberated human. I felt like more of an adult, like I could adapt or figure out anything I put my mind to. I felt like we were in such precarious situations sometimes and we would just figure it out – even with the language barrier. We were kicked off the bus on the side of a mountain and still made it home. I think that when I came home I decided that I wasn’t going to settle for unhappiness anymore. Had I not studied abroad, I truly believe it would have taken me longer to come to terms with who I am. 


Part Two: Center Stage

B: When did you first become interested in drag?
E: I didn’t become truly interested in drag until February of this year. When the pandemic hit, my boyfriend Josh had just moved in with me and he’d always tried to get me to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. Watching the show really changed my perception of what drag is. I saw how revolutionary it was and how it questions the gender binary. For me, I had never been able to express femininity and this was an outlet for me to explore that. It started off as kind of a joke – just doing it for fun. But I really didn’t want to half ass something, so I started spending more time practicing it. I started to think, ‘Ok, what can I do with this? I’m in quarantine, but how can I still reach people?’. That’s when I started exploring the idea of political drag. Drag queens have always been the torchbearers for political revolution, especially for the LGBTQ community. They were the ones who stood up to the police at Stonewall and they’re the reason we celebrate pride and it’s so important today to not forget that. I started thinking of how I could still contribute to this political movement, even while social distancing. I decided that I’m going to interview political members while in drag. I want my community, the community I’m surrounded with, to appreciate this as an art form of it. It’s creative.

B: How does it feel to be doing drag in such an intense political climate?
E: It’s given me some anxiety for sure. Even just by announcing to the world that this is what I’m doing, I’m obviously alienating myself from people who may not agree with this. I have to keep reminding myself, ‘what am I doing this for?’. I want to question the norm and I want people to do that as well. It’s very liberating but also a little bit scary.

B: Does the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race give you any extra security – knowing that drag is in such a public space now?
E: I do think it helps. RuPaul has said numerous times on the show that the world would be a better place if more people did drag, and I believe that. She also says don’t take yourself too seriously. In this interview the runway is executive realness. I’m wearing six inch stripper heels, a vibrator necklace and there’s an eggplant emoji in the background. It is so ridiculous. That’s what I have to remind myself; not to take myself too seriously which is something I do often.

B: Who are your drag influences?
E: One of my all time favorites – despite her diva moment – is Alaska Thunderf**k 5000. Then it’d be Naomi Smalls, Kim-Chi, Katya Zamolodchikova and Violet Chachki. The first season I watched was season 4, which was in 2012. One of the challenges on the show was to do a presidential campaign, running as the first drag queen of the United States. So many of the contestants said, “I just don’t associate drag with politics”. To me, everything about drag is political. Everything. 

B: What is the future of Euphoria – what is the end goal?
E: Right now, I’m trying to not set expectations. I think that’s something that gave me a lot of anxiety when I first started. When I went public with this, it was ‘oh now there’s an expectation’. My ultimate goal would be to inspire or to empower anyone that I can. I’ve had one person reach out about me going public with my drag saying that it empowered them to start experimenting with drag which is amazing. At the end of the day, that’s what I want. I think our social media presence is more impactful than people realize – I didn’t realize it until this experience. 

Follow along on Euphoria MarxxX’s journey on Instagram

Watch her first political interview with 2020 Candidate for Congress Maite Salazar