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New York Drag Legend Sweetie Dies After Cancer Battle

Photography: Michael Wakefield

The '90s nightlife staple was known for her lip-syncing abilities, crass humor and, most of all, her heart.

Yesterday, New York felt a little colder as news spread that legendary New York drag queen Sweetie had died. The 51-year-old icon, born Daniel Booth, had succumbed to her lengthy battle with cancer.

Rising to NYC stardom in the early '90s from attending parties by Susanne Bartsch and Linda Simpson at nightlife staples like the Pyramid Club and Boy Bar, Sweetie was known for her lip-syncing abilities, crass humor and, most of all, her heart.

"I had always considered myself a serious actor in a lot of ways, and drag was kind of lowbrow to me," Sweetie told OUT columnist Michael Musto last year in Paper. "I loved watching it, but never thought I'd do it seriously, until I found out they were making money doing it, you know what I mean?"

Earlier this year, longtime friend Daniel Nardicio hosted a birthday benefit for Sweetie at the Highline Ballroom, which partially served as a farewell to the Drag Star. On facebook, Nardicio recalled a conversation he had with Sweetie about her cancer: "Sweetie and I were talking about plans for 'the end' and I looked down and realized, after her living with this disease for two years by that point, what that meant. I started crying, and said to her, 'I don't really know how I'm gonna go on without my best friend.' And she just replied, 'Don't. I know I have the easy job. I just have to die.'"

Members of New York's local drag community have begun sharing online their memories of Sweetie, including Brooklyn's Shane Tencza:

A memorial is set to be held at Pangea restaurant in New York this Sunday from 2 - 4 pm. Nardicio writes, "We can invoke her spirit, raise a glass, and tell tales--or just hug."

Revisit Sweetie's captivating cameo with RuPaul in 1995's To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar:

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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Michael Rulli