Unlike these days, people shunned anyone carrying a camera let alone a member of the press. However, Josie was one of the few who welcomed not only me but my camera as well.
Joe was born into a large family (he is one of nine) in Baltimore and grew up in the Highlandtown area. He attended and graduated from Patterson High School.
In 1988, Joe came out. He started working/helping to dress performers at shows and one day he decided he wanted to be a part of the action on stage. Usually, one gets their drag name by the name of your childhood pet and the street where you lived. However, Joe just couldn't go around with the name “Booties Fait”.
It was through his good friend, the late Chantel McGee, who would call Joe – Jose.
“It was when the movie “The Associate” with Jodie Foster came out. As a big fan of hers', I decided to call myself a combination of Jodie and Jose – hence, Josie.”
In 1990, Joe ran in the competition of Miss Allegro and won.
Then, in 1994, Joe took the dive into running for the title of Miss Hippo. Again, he won.
Joe is respected by many in the community, not only as a performer but as a person as well.
“Josie is loving, understanding and a huge role model for female impersonators,” stated Eric Gabbard, a show promoter.
Joe and his brother Mark, who is also gay, have both competed against each other. “I look out for my brother all of the time,” Joe commented. “But when we compete against each other, he's on his own”.
In 1995, Josie ran for Miss Gay Maryland America. It was a hard fight and in the end, he came in second to Sabrina White. It ultimately wasn't a loss. To have gotten that far, is a testament to the performer. I watched that night as it was my first show to cover for the paper.
When I asked a few people to comment about Joe, I had both of my email accounts overrun. That said volumes about how much he is admired. I even received a comment from as far away as Sweden.
“Josie Foster, what can you say about a Baltimore legend?” stated Anita Minett. “All I can say is that she has been a huge supporter of new queens and though she may bring you down at first, it’s to help you out in the long run.”
Anita added, “She has given me so much inspiration to continue my drag career! She's a wonderful person and hilarious when you get to know her.
These are just a few of the accolades I received.
“The bold and the beautiful is Miss Josie Foster” commented David Rorke of Sweden. “Her wit is never ending”.
“I have known Josie for 2 years since branching out on the drag scene in Baltimore”, remarked Lovell Woodland. “It was after my first attempt at a prelim to Miss Maryland that Josie saw potential in me. She has been one of the most supportive and driving forces and I truly admire her. It was last year when I competed for Miss Maryland; I said to her 'I hope to make you proud'. Josie was quick to respond 'you already have'."
I asked Josie where were his favorite places to perform in. “The Renegade in Rehoboth Beach. I loved it there. And the Atlantis. Every time I would jump onto the bar, a little voice would tell me to watch out for the beam in the ceiling and no sooner than I thought this, bam – my head hits the beam. But in the long run, The Hippo is my home.”
If you are a regular out in Mount Vernon, you can find Joe at The Hippo where he tends bar. He has been working there now for ten years.
“I used to help Josie with the contests for Miss Allegro and Miss Maryland Newcomer”, remarked Michael Serio. “He is a great friend.”
Depending on who you talk to in this community, the reviews of Josie are mixed. “Some people say that they don't want to meet me because they think I am a bitch. I am just the opposite. I am an easy person to get along with. That is one thing I want people to know about who I am.”