Habits, Heels, and Ear Brassieres Come with a Surprising Spirituality

Sister Edith at Revival Bingo in April 2005

For Sister Edith Myflesh, the president of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, dressing up in a nun's habit, strapping on a bra-like headpiece, and spending two hours applying white face makeup isn't just about entertaining. It's an honest to God religion.

The Sisters, the infamous San Francisco order of (mostly) men in drag, started on Easter weekend 1979, can now boast nearly 70 members, with other orders popping up around the world – everywhere from America's deep south to Uruguay. Here, the sisters have become well-known figures by hosting an ambitious calendar of events – including bingo nights, holiday galas, and straight-up parties – the proceeds from which go to support sex and gender related charities. The order has been swept up by controversy in the past. It's not hard to imagine how the Catholic church might object to the sisters. Still, these ladies garner a lot of respect, whether they're fighting breast cancer, staging races in high heels, or just holding their heads high as they stroll down the street in full habit.

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