Ambush Magazine and the Krewe of Queenateenas is pleased to announce George “Rita George” Roth as your King Cake Queen XXIX, The Classic Queen.
Roth was born in 1936 and raised in New Orleans where he attended St. Aloysius High School. He then attended Louisiana State University. While in college, Roth served as a cheerleader for the Tigers. After attending L.S.U., Roth moved to New York City and secured a job as a dancer at the fabled nightspot, Club 82. Roth briefly taught school in Connecticut before returning to New Orleans. Back home, he secured a top position with the Lulu Burras Skin Care Institute, which had a presence at Canal Place as well as the Gus Meyer department stores.
Roth’s career then took him to San Francisco, where he opened two bathhouses in the 1970s—Bulldog Baths and Club San Francisco. Through his involvement in what was then called the San Francisco Businessmen’s Association, he became acquainted and worked closely with former San Francisco mayor and late U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein.
Roth also had a career in the casino industry. He handled costumes for Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas and he later helped open the Beau Rivage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast as the head of wardrobe for Cirque du Soleil. In 2017, he joined Local 478, a motion picture and television union. He continues to work part-time as a host at Kingfish Restaurant. He has been a resident of the French Quarter since 1990.
Roth’s place in gay history is remarkable not only for the scope and breadth of his long tenure, but also because he is a link to the origins of Gay Carnival, a uniquely New Orleans phenomenon. In the late 1950s, Roth was taking dance lessons from a man who invited him to a private parade viewing party. Doug Jones lived on the Carrollton parade route and each year invited his gay friends over to watch the parade. These parties evolved into the Krewe of Yuga, the first gay krewe in New Orleans.
The photographs used in the documentary, The Sons of Tennessee Williams, in which Roth was featured, were Roth’s. Roth has also been featured in two other documentary films: Cherry Groves Stories (about Fire Island) and P.S. Burn This Letter Please (about the history of drag in New York City). Roth was crowned the third “Miss Fire Island” in 1969 and later Ms. Fire Island in 2000.
The Krewe of Queenateenas grew out of a Mardi Gras bead toss from the fabled “Ambush Mansion” balcony initiated by Rip and Marsha Naquin-Delain in 1987. The following year, Rip and Marsha narrowed down the guest list. Their good friend Jay Loomis, who would eventually reign as King Cake Queen II, dubbed the group “The Krewe of Queenateenas.” The first King Cake Queen was selected in 1994 and has been an annual feature of gay Carnival since then.