Ron Kerr’s personae Dessie Love-Blake high-heeled her way into drag in bowling league charity shows. He had no intention of turning it into a profession. A year later, in 2012, he reconsidered after winning his first title — Miss EJ’s, during Pride season. The performance part of the job came naturally after he attended San Jacinto College and then University of Houston Downtown on music scholarships.
With a schedule that would terrify (and exhaust!) most people, Dessie manages two shows a week at Rich’s. “Dessie’s Drag Race” on Monday nights and “Drag to Riches” on Sundays. On Wednesdays he hosts at JR’s, and Friday and Saturday evenings at Hamburger Mary’s. After Saturday’s show he shoots down to Rumors Beach Bar in Galveston for an 11 p.m. show. In his free time there’s work as a real estate agent and teaching radiology students.
There is also the pageant circuit to keep him busy. Dessie is currently Miss Gay Northeast America, a title Kerr relinquishes in July, as well as being formerly Miss Texas 2014 and third alternate to Miss Gay America. Dessie competes in Miss Gay America 2018, where he took 3rd place last year. He is very encouraged about his chances to win the title after putting in lots of hard work to up Dessie’s game.
Kerr is heralded by many he works with for his determination, organizational skills and professionalism. Rich’s owner Jeff Harmon evokes nothing but praise.
“Dessie is one of the most professional and pleasant entertainers I have ever worked with”, Harmon says. “A true perfectionist in all aspects of his multiple shows and performances, everything he touches turns to gold. He is a top-notch showgirl! To Dessie it’s not just another gig, it’s a career.”
Having performed for many years in The Outpost’s “Celebrity Icons” show, Dessie has managed to build a large repertoire of entertainers, old and new. In addition to Janis Joplin, Toni Tenille and Crystal Gayle, he also creates illusions of Pink, Taylor Swift, Joan Jett and others.
“I attempt to cater to the favorites of my audience whose age ranges are wide,” Kerr says.
When asked about his prolific dancing ability, he scoffs. “I do not consider myself a dancer,” Kerr says. “I make sure I wear costumes with plenty of movement and then I jump around a lot!”
Kerr acknowledges that he did not do it alone. Early on he was noticed by drag icon LaWanda Jackson who schooled him on the business of drag and what was required to become a respected performer. Another long-time performer, Lana Blake, lent her name to then-called Dessie Love when Kerr arrived at a pageant and discovered that another contestant was named Destiny Love. The name Dessie Love-Blake was born.
Kerr is quick to credit his success to another very important person in his life, his husband Clay Gore. After six years together they were married in May of 2016. Gore is the producer of “Dessie’s Drag Race” and handles many needs including acting as a backstage dresser for many quick costume changes. He is decidedly “the man behind the woman (no pun intended),” Kerr says.
When asked about his experience as a young gay person, Kerr admits that he was bullied and made fun of before ever coming out. The subject was not approached by his East Texas family until he was 25 years old when, at a Luby’s with his mother and sister, his mother asked, “Do you have something you want to say?”
He did. His family was very supportive and both mother and father attended the wedding. They can often be spotted at Dessie’s shows.
Kerr and Clay pay forward the support they have received by not only mentoring young drag hopefuls in performance, but also in getting through the often-difficult maneuvers of LGBTQ issues. They hope that part of their own experience can make the youth realize that they will get through many things that may seem daunting for now. It’s a message that seems especially relative as Pride 2018 approaches.
In a first, Dessie Love-Blake will make an appearance in this year’s Pride Parade, riding in the Rich’s entry. Having resisted before because of the June heat, this year she will bite the bullet. It’s just another show of the commitment Kerr has to entertaining and giving the crowd what they want. In this instance it may be a half-melted, but still beautiful, drag queen, waving and smiling all the way.