Contributed by: Katie Lewellyn
Shawn Cox, also known as Sister Maddie ‘Bout You, is a thirty-seven year old California native. Born in Antioch California and raised in Oakley, Cox has never had the support he needed growing up as a gay man. He grew up believing that what his sexuality was wrong and something was wrong with him due to the influences that his family expressed about gay individuals. Cox believed himself to be a “dirty, filthy, freak.”
In 2008 at Pink Saturday, Cox met his first Sister of the Perpetual Indulgence. He said he was “horrified” at the sight of her but also fascinated with what she looked like and the drama behind her. In 2009 Cox met his second Sister and liked the attention that she was receiving. He thought that the Sisters were really cool and different and they interested him.
Cox became bored with the same everyday life he was living. He knew that the Sisters did good work and had fun doing it and decided to join their cause. To Cox, he never looked at a Sister and thought “drag queens”, instead he saw spiritual beings that were having fun.
Cox has been in the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for fifteen months and at first was extremely resistant to the idea of drag. Growing up in a sheltered Catholic family, Cox didn’t know where to begin when it came to the drag part. He decided to ask a female co-worker of his to go to Sephora with him to pick out makeup. Cox recalled walking around Sephora, mind you this was the Sephora on Powell Street, and shyly gesturing to the items he liked so his co-worker could grab them for him.
Cox said that the first time he put his makeup on he felt extremely self conscience, but then Cox began to build self confidence. Originally Cox had two separate identities, one being Shawn Cox and the other being Sister Maddie ‘Bout You, but Cox began to find out that his Sister self and personal self began to cross over and he didn’t mind it.
As Cox’s confidence began to raise, he started to enjoy being a Sister more and more. He would go to clothing stores with other Sister’s and at first hide in a corner to try on a dress they picked out and now Cox is confident enough to walk in a grab what he likes, regardless of what the people around him believe.
Cox says that he owes a lot to the support team the Sisters gave him. When starting out as a Sister, you are given a family and for Cox that included three big sisters and a mother. To Cox, this is his family. These were the people who helped him pick his Sister name and each Sister is specially incorporated into his Sister face.
To honor his family Cox incorporates a certain makeup style from them into his own look. This includes the wing eyeliner, the double eyebrows, the black lined lips, and the gold mark on Cox’s lips.
When deciding on his Sister name, Cox knew that Madelyn had to be somewhere in it since it was one of his favorite names. Originally he thought that Maddie-Lynn Cookies was the Sister name for him, he thought it worked since he loved the name Madelyn and was a big fan of cookies, but after announcing it to his fellow Sisters instead of receiving compliments on his name, he was faced with people rolling their eyes and many resting bitch faces. Cox said that there was “judgement everywhere” that day.
Sister Tilly, the Mistress of Novices, lent Cox a hand and recommended the name “Sister Maddie ‘Bout You”. Cox knew that was the name for him, still incorporating his favorite name but also some sass behind it.
Although the rules are strict for the initiates, Cox loves every minute of being a Sister. In becoming a Sister, Cox broke out of his shell, once being a shy, no eye contact, soft spoken person, to a man who is confident in himself and what he lives for. Cox is now outgoing and has grown as an individual, now knowing that he is not a “dirty, filthy, freak”.
What’s next for Cox? He is leading the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence’s portion of the Folsom Street Fair in 2015 and is looking forward to the many adventures that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will give him.