Flawless. Just Like Perfection.
There is no Other.
This Nashom Wooden memoriam was produced collaboratively by Paul and Jojo (of The Ones), Peace Bisquit and Popular Publicity. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(New York, NY) April 17, 2020 –Downtown star, East Village fixture, writer, pop singer, fashionisto, and performer Nashom Benjamin Wooden, born October 9, 1969, died at the age of 50 on March 23, 2020 of the COVID-19 virus.
If one were to take a snapshot of all that was fierce about Downtown NYC nightlife over the last three decades, caught in the flash, giving face and body, would be Nashom Wooden. Like many who have since ascended to the East Village pantheon, Nashom was unique, talented, a sweetheart and a presence.
Tall, muscular, and handsome, Nashom was a former high school athlete with a love of superheroes, strong women, pop culture and camp. From Grace Jones to Sylvester, Thierry Mugler to Rick Owens, “Sunset Boulevard” to “Paris is Burning,” Quentin Crisp to Katherine Helmond, Nashom mixed and served his own brand of attitude and humor.
Though born in Brooklyn and hanging out at Manhattan’s Tunnel nightclub at 15, it wasn’t until Nashom turned 18 that he moved into the City. He found work at Zoot on Waverly and later at cult boutique Charivari, before eventually landing at the Eighth Street “fashion bazaar” owned by future “Sex in the City” and “Devil Wears Prada” designer, Patricia Field.
Co-workers at Pat Field included best friends and future collaborators, designer JoJo Americo and writer and director Paul E Alexander, also known as the former master of ceremonies at Johnny Dynell and Chi Chi Valenti’s legendary Tuesday night Meatpacking District party, Jackie 60 (1991-1999).
It was at Zoot in 1989 that Nashom met Nikki Nicole (Nicholas Carter), the first black Miss Boy Bar, who dared him to do a lip-sync number on the Boy Bar stage. A lover of lip-synch, craving attention, and in need of a few coins, Nashom took the dare. The audience loved him, and, though “the girls weren’t all that welcoming at first,” he was eventually embraced by the Boy Bar Beauties, which included Miss Guy, Connie Girl, Princess Diandra and Raven—people he considered the cream of the crop of East Village performance artists.
Nashom, named his newfound stage persona, “Mona,” after Katherine Helmond’s hilarious man crazed character on the 80’s sitcom, “Who’s the Boss.” “Foot” was tacked one night by Boy Bar talent booker Matthew Kasten, as he introduced Mona to the stage, and “Mona Foot” was born.
A strapping six and a half feet tall, in a painfully tight corset, wig and heels, Mona’s Tina Turner-Wonder Woman-on-steroids drag, in costumes designed by David Dalrymple for House of Field, was at once intimidating and exhilarating. Her arch banter, sassy repartee and instantly legendary take on Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman,” quickly made her a superstar on the Downtown scene. Fame brought nonstop gigs at Boy Bar, The Pyramid Club, Crowbar, The Cock, the annual drag festival, Wigstock and Barracuda, where she hosted the popular “Mona Foot’s Star Search” talent show.
In 1999, it also brought Nashom roles in an Off-Broadway play with RuPaul (“My Pet Homo”), on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (S1, E4 “Hysteria”), and as the in and out of drag character “Amazing Grace” in the Joel Schumacher’s film, “Flawless,” starring Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Though by this time he had tired of being known as Mona Foot (“That’s not my name. My name is Nashom.”*), when Schumacher said he could submit songs for the soundtrack, he saw an opportunity to do something new. Together with friend Paul E Alexander, he wrote a song for the film called, “Flawless,” the music for which was written and produced by A Touch of Class (Scissor Sisters) and remixed to perfection for the charts and clubs by Italo-duo Phunk Investigation.
To perform the song, Nashom, Paul E Alexander and JoJo Americo became The Ones. The three had met working at Patricia Field and had previously performed as a trio at the underground punk/drag party Squeezebox.
Though the original slinky, catwalk version of “Flawless” didn’t make it into the movie, the 2001 remix by Phunk Investigation made the song the hit of the season in Ibiza, which propelled the single to #7 on the UK Top 10 and number 1 on International Dance Charts. “Flawless” was featured in a 2002 Revlon commercial and cemented The Ones international pop stardom. In an instant, the trio was jetting to London to perform the song on “Top of the Pops”, “Pepsi Chart Show” and major clubs like Ministry of Sound, G.A.Y. as well as many gigs across Europe.
In 2004, George Michael faithfully reworked the song as his own hit, “Flawless (Go to the City),” which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
Three albums—”The Ones” (2007), “NYC Jungle” (2008) and “Blast From the Past” (2010)—and nearly a dozen singles followed of flawlessly produced dance music, reflecting the trio’s various musical influences—a mix of electro, house, new wave, rock and pop. Album covers featured JoJo, Paul and Nashom, all Mona Lisa smiles and gazing eyes in runway ready superhero couture by David Dalrymple (House of Field). The final single, “Let’s Celebrate” by The Ones featuring Nomi Ruiz, was a Top 10 Billboard Dance Club Chart hit.
The accompanying videos, particularly “When We Get Together,” “Face and Body,” and “Let’s Celebrate” were nothing less than roll calls for a who’s who of the Downtown glitterati, featuring fellow club, music, and fashion stars, from Amanda Lepore, Cazwell, Susanne Bartsch and Jody Watley, to Debbie Harry, Jake Shears, Connie Girl and Miss Guy, to supermodels Pat Cleveland and daughter, Anna to Frankie Sharp and the legendary group godmother, Codie Leone.
Fourteen years later, after crisscrossing the globe for gigs from San Francisco Pride, Sydney Mardi Gras, to Russia (where they were surprisingly popular), and opening for Lady Gaga, the trio remained friends, but decided to stop performing together as THE ONES.
Nashom continued to work at The Cock where he’d been a bartender (his favorite position), promoter (‘Cock &Soul’), doorman, manager and DJ since 1997. And though no longer performing as The Ones, Nashom remained a glamorous regular on the Downtown art and fashion scene, often seen at movie premieres, fashion shows, or running around the East Village looking fierce in Rick Owens, Maison Margiela, Dirk Bikkembergs and David Dalrymple for House of Field.
From all accounts, Nashom left us in his prime: Fit, fly and fabulous. He’d just finished writing a television show treatment, was a regular at numerous gyms (and it showed) and if you bumped into him on the street, he was just as sly, witty and funny as ever.
Nashom Benjamin Wooden is survived by his mother.
A fittingly fierce memorial will celebrate Nashom once the horror of the pandemic has passed. Get your look together!
Below are thoughts and memories from some of those lucky enough to have known Nashom.
“Just like perfection, superstar Nashom came into our lives one night at our first club house Boy Bar on St. Mark’s Place sometime in the late 80’s. Cut to the end of the 90’s. We wrote a song and The Ones were born with the worldwide hit, “Flawless”. Fourteen years later, we decided to stop performing together as The Ones but remained friends. With heavy heart we must say there can never be another Nashom. He was a once in a lifetime encounter.” – Paul & Jojo
“NYC drag queens are known for many things. One is their unique personas which rely less on celebrity impersonation than becoming their own celeb. Mona Foot, also a friend and roommate, did this NYC tradition proud. She was originally groomed by Matthew Kasten at the Boybar to lip-synch classic Aretha Franklin tunes, in bold print house dresses, short blonde wigs and garish make-up. The look was clown-y, but as she matured, Mona ditched the matronly drag in favor of longer, glamorous wigs, corsets, more flattering make-up and fetish heels, often with a super-hero vibe. Lip-synching to Chaka’s “I’m Every Woman” dressed as Wonder Woman, this muscular black guy became a symbol of the gay East Village. “Her bulging physique gave her drag a gender-fuck quality without the beard. So beloved, that sometimes ‘Did you see what Mona Foot was wearing ?’ was often the most asked question after any Wigstock–even if her wig fell off mid-number. As it often did.
“Whether it was jetting around the world as part of The Ones, or bartending at The Cock for many years, Mona lived. Her drag character was so popular that she literally could not retire, which led to many comebacks. I’m delighted to have shared so many laughs, drinks and good times with this queen, who cleaned up her act in later years with regards to all the partying. But she always kept that wardrobe and her wicked sense of humor! When she found out we were doing Wigstock 2.Ho two years ago, she asked if there was room to perform. There wasn’t, but I found a spot for Miss Mona. Best shot I ever called! And yes, her wig fell off that time, too!” – Lady Bunny
“No one, not one person made me laugh harder longer and more furiously than Nashom Wooden. There are people put on this planet that exist in Magic. When you were in Nashom’s vortex he understood you and you were captivated in his spell of lyrical wit. Then she would READ you for filth but it was because he could sense the strength of your heart and if you could take it, you were lucky enough to be bonded forever. That was his hug, his gift. I will miss my magnificent friend forever.” – Frankie Sharp
“I was fortunate enough to share a loft with Nashom for a decade. We found our best common ground was music, and within that Earth Wind & Fire and Funkadelic was the soundtrack to our lives. Nashom had a remarkable range from Sylvester to Isaac Hayes- he could sing anything. … in fact he could sing every part. Some of my favorite memories are him singing ” You scared the Lovin’ out of me” by funkadelic while contorting his face into the most primitive gravelly rubbery deep funk vocals and then jumping into the highest sweet gospel falsetto without missing a word. He loved that he had this gift and we would laugh in delight. This laughter defined this decade to me.
Nashom literally oozed talent. He was a hilarious comedian, great singer, and had an amazing eye for design, His face with its broad Hollywood smile and giant eyes was so expressive he could entertain a large club or small group with the ease of a great star. because he was.” – Scott Ewalt
“What I remember most about Nashom was his smile. Whether it was on the streets of New York City, or the boardwalks of Cherry Grove (his summer home), Nashom’s smile was a sight to behold. I’m sad for New York City nightlife and our friends at the Cock who worked with him nightly, as we’ve lost a mainstay.” – Daniel Nardicio
“Nashom/Mona was a drag warrior, a surreally hot musical presence, and a beloved friend and icon to all on the nightlife scene. In a word, he was flawless.” – Michael Musto
“Nashom had style, wit, talent and generosity of spirit. He was a gentleman and a class act.” – Aaron Cobbett
“I first met Mona in 1992, the year I moved to NYC and started performing in drag. Over 28 years, even if we only saw each a few times a year, those moments were spent cackling and laughing. She ALWAYS greeted me with, “Sherry Vine, you are a man”! – Sherry Vine
“I’d seen Nashom around the Downtown scene for many years, often performing as Mona Foot. In or out or drag, Nashom was fierce. And I was intimidated. But, when I got to know The Ones, first through A Touch of Class, which produced “Flawless,” and later through Peace Biscuit Productions, as the publicist for the “NYC Jungle” album, I was swept up by Nashom’s superstar smile and wicked humor. The four of us (JoJo, Paul, Nashom) even appeared on an episode of “Cash Cab.” We got one phone call to ask for help with a question, and of course, called Lady Bunny. We were crying. We lost miserably, but it was a cackle. Since then I’d run into Nashom around the neighborhood, often rocking some serious Rick Ownens fashion as I did just a month ago, and we always had a cute little sidewalk kiki.” – Andy Reynolds, Popular Publicity
“Nashom as Mona projected a laissez- far attitude during his lipsticks and it served so well to set him apart from everyone else. As Mona his performance of Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky” is absolutely legendary and set the bar very high for all other queens. Nashom brought a spirt of joy and mischief and it was always welcomed by any audience.” – Matthew Kasten
“Nashom was an unapologetically black, queer, NYC icon superstar with a sharp wit, great taste, fierce style and cool demeanor. We’ve admired him as a performer and a person since our club days in the late ’80’s when there weren’t many heroes worth holding out for. His star power and charisma were seemingly effortless. His indelible legacy will live on through all of us – his friends and fans. A legend never dies. – Bill Coleman, Peace Bisquit
“Nashom always seemed to feel everything on a higher level than everyone around him. His heart was so big and beat so loud that it could seem deafening. He could be quick to show fire, but as our friendship grew and we collaborated and learned to trust each other, I found that he was just as quick to laugh and to show a tremendous amount of love. He was completely cherished by those he held close to him we are luckier people for it.” – Matthew Dailey, Director
“Nashom represented the downtown queer scene with his funny, fierce, talented, gender destroying presence all with a body that seemed carved out of a fine piece of marble. But his genuine kindness is what I remember most.” – Larry Tee
“Mona left an indelible impression on anyone she encountered. Nashom was one of the friendliest scenesters in New York. It was a thrill to have her perform in PETA’s first “Fur Is A Drag” show (in this pic with SNL’s Phil Hartman!) at the Palladium. Miss Foot, you are terribly missed!” – Dan Mathews, Senior VP, PETA
“I don’t know how to put it into words exactly. I don’t know if words can really define the power, grace and beauty of a soul like Nashom. This loss is so tremendous for all of us who were incredibly blessed to know him. He was pure energy, love and light. He was a force of nature simple as that! And though we are all bewildered and heartbroken we must believe the soul never dies: Nashom’s spirit continues.” – Ultra Naté
“Nashom was family and sadly and suddenly we lost one of our own.” – Patricia Field
Nashom / Mona Foot Tribute Mix by DJ William Francis
“This set is a collection of Nashom’s favorite artists and songs that remind me of him. Two of his absolute favorites included are Womack & Womack’s “Teardrops” and MFSB’s “Love Is the Message.” As you listen, I hope you see, hear, and feel him as presently as I did while making it. I hope it reminds you with some wonderful stories allowing him to live on through our memories.Nashom, I love you and miss you so much. I hope you’re hearing these beats, dancing and singing along somewhere.”
Paul Alexander, Jojo Americo and Nashom Wooden are THE ONES
The Ones are legendary
The Ones are New York nightlife royalty
The Ones are still coming for you.
The Ones are flawless!
THE ONES Discography
The Ones – Blast From The Past (2012) Apple Music | Spotify
The Ones – NYC Jungle (2008) Apple Music
The Ones – The Ones (2007) Apple Music
The Ones: Flawless – Official Video Playlist Discography | YouTube
*From ““Ex-Drag Queen Nashom Wooden, aka Mona Foot, on Hanging Up the Heels” by Michael Musto, PAPER Magazine, August 31, 2017.