You may know Big Freedia as the twerking queen from the South — the New Orleans native does hold the Guinness World Record for the most people twerking in a group — and as the star of her own reality series, “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce.” But you probably don’t know the long journey that transformed Freddie Ross, a self-proclaimed “big gay sissy,” to one of mainstream music’s first successful queer rappers.
In her new memoir, co-written with Nicole Balin, Freedia gives readers a glimpse into her early life growing up queer in a Baptist community in one of New Orleans’ rougher areas, her love of Gospel music, coming out to her very religious but always supportive mother, and her falling out and subsequent reunion with her father.
One diva’s journey from the underground to the main stage
The only thing that rivaled the Queen Diva’s love of Gospel was her love of Bounce music, a style of hip hop that originated in New Orleans. Freedia was around from the very beginning, and it wouldn’t be long before she was making her own contributions to the sound, along with fellow “sissy” musician Katey Red.
Big Freedia’s ride to fame is certainly an inspiring one, made all the more impressive by the Queen Diva’s unfaltering resolve at staying true to herself. Freedia often seems unfazed by endless obstacles thrown her way, including the death and imprisonment of friends and family, being shot herself, battling agoraphobia, and her mother’s tragic battle with cancer. Her account of Hurricane Katrina — coming up on its 10th anniversary this August — was one of the more powerful chapters in the memoir. There, Freedia chronicles her escape from her flooded house to the supposed safety of the Convention Center before her eventual departure for Arkansas.
In documenting her journey, Freedia also recounts her leap into mainstream culture and the beginning of her reality series on Fuse Television — as well as her thoughts on Miley Cyrus’ infamous twerking at MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards.
By the end of “God Save the Queen Diva,” Big Freedia may well feel more like a long lost friend than a television personality. And, of course, the book would not be complete without a visual guide on how to twerk like a pro.
BIG FREEDIA: GOD SAVE THE QUEEN DIVA | By Big Freedia, with Nicole Balin | Gallery Books | $24.99 | 272 pages