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    41st Royal House

    By Kippy Marks–

    When a candidate campaigns to become a Grand Duke or Grand Duchess, there is always a representation of colors that allows voters to know whom they are voting for. In most cases, candidates will also have a “catchphrase” and a coronation theme for their step-down.

    We have taken a look at the last 40 Royal Houses and have gotten to know a little about each of them. Now, I will feature the remaining 9 Royal Houses, one at a time and each leading us to the current Reigning Monarchs and to the candidates of The Grand Ducal Council’s 50th Reign. Here is a spotlight on the 41th Royal House:

    The 41st Royal House of The Rising Phoenix Court of Champagne, Chocolate, and Jambalaya
    Grand Duke XL Kippy Marks: The Bubbly Champagne and Chocolate Grand Duke
    Colors: gold, green, and purple
    Symbol: Music staff and notes
    Always saying: “The Kingdom must be run.”
    Grand Duchesses XLI Joie De Vivre: The Cajun Showgirl on Steroids
    Colors: gold and purple
    Symbol: Mardi Gras mask
    Always saying: “We rise from the ashes.”
    Coronation Theme: “The Night of The Rising Phoenix Over Korsakov”

    This Royal House made Ducal History on several levels. It was my year, and it was filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, laughter and tears, destruction and Resurrection.

    The first in this Ducal history-making chart was that I was the first ever elected Black Grand Duke within the organization’s 41-year history. The second is that I had two Realms/Kingdoms, and the third is that I had two Grand Duchesses!

    As I mentioned in the last issue of the San Francisco Bay Times, Grand Duchess XXXVIII Kylie Minono inspired me so much that I begged and pleaded and beseeched her to become my campaign manager. I was very lucky and blessed that she agreed and I knew at that moment I was going to win, and I did.

    There was only one candidate running for Grand Duchess (Pat-N-Leather) and one other Grand Duke candidate (David C. Herrera). Pat-N-Leather would become the duly elected Grand Duchess and David C. Herrera would become my Royal Crowned Prince, (RCP). Our first Realm/Kingdom was known as “The Court of Champagne, Chocolate, and Realberries.”

    This court consisted of my Crown Prince (CP): Aja Monet Ashton
    Royal Crown Princess: Sr. Eve Volution
    Crowned Princess: Lexi Shimmers

    Pat and I would rule the Realm/Kingdom for six months before it completely collapsed, leaving devastation and destruction in its path. Needless to say, there was scandal and strife and, in the end, the duly elected Grand Duchess resigned from her position and took her RCP and the Realm/Kingdom with her. Having experienced this, I found myself in utter shock. I was hurt and confused as to how to proceed, but The Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco stepped in and followed the protocol written in the bylaws and placed a Regent Monarch as my New Grand Duchess.

    Enter Joie de Vive. Together we resurrected the Realm/Kingdom to its glory. Our new Realm/Kingdom was known as: “The Rising Phoenix Court of Champagne, Chocolate, and Jambalaya” and we also created a new Royal Crest.

    My newly appointed Regent Grand Duchess Joie de Vivre appointed Virgil Roma as her Royal Crown Princess (RCP) and for the last 6 months of our Realm/Kingdom we reigned together, flourishing and shining brightly with dignity, respect, and the Mardi Gras flair of joy and celebration. I am forever grateful to Joie de Vivre for accepting the position and choosing to reign together with me as her Grand Duke the last six months. I truly love and appreciate you, Joie de Vivre!

    I asked Joie de Vivre to share her personal thoughts about her experience reigning with me and serving in the Grand Ducal

    Council. She shared: “While I’d known I was ‘different’ for decades, growing up in the ’70s, I wasn’t aware of any trans people, and it took me years to put a name to my desire to live life as a woman. [This was] partly due to the stereotypes, both within the trans community and outside of it—that you had to hate your male body and hate living as a man to be ‘truly trans’ and transition. While I wasn’t enthusiastic about either, it wasn’t suicide or die for me. But I know I loved being a woman, even if I thought it was impossible to do so. However, eventually the urge became too much, and I started going out in public as a woman. I ran into the Ducal Court, and I hit the trifecta: it was a place where I could perform; I could do volunteer work; and most importantly, it was a place where I could explore my gender identity and expression in a supportive environment.”

    “By the time I reigned with Kippy Marks in 2014, it had become clear that I wasn’t as gender fluid as I’d thought I’d been, and the thoughts of transitioning started forming, but it was something I was wrestling with,” she continued. “At the time, transitioning was much more daunting than it is today, and I feared losing my job, my family, and my friends. While I was out within the Court, I wasn’t out in the rest of my life, and I’d seen other transitions go badly. But knowing the Court would be there for me regardless was one of the things that gave me courage to start seriously thinking about living life as a woman.”

    She added, “Likewise, reigning with Kippy caused me to stretch myself to do things I hadn’t known I was capable of, which showed me that I’d have the strength to transition, which was the most intense and stressful thing I’d ever done in my life. If it hadn’t been for my experiences with the Court, I may well have continued to live a life of quiet desperation as a man, but thankfully, after my reign I started living as a woman everywhere outside of work, and then fully came out and fully transitioned a year later.”

    On September 22, 2023, the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco will celebrate 50 years of Camp and Fundraising. The celebration will take place at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Please consider becoming a sponsor.


    Tickets ($60) are on sale through August 25, 2023, with a hard stop on that final date. We hope to see you at this once-in-a-lifetime historic event!

    Kippy Marks is Grand Duke XL of The Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco. He is the first ever elected African-American Grand Duke.

    Celebrating 50 Years of the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco
    Published on May 18, 2023