Keeping Up With the Monarchs 

KUWTM- Episode 1I

August 2020

From the Desk of Empress XV

 Nikki Knowles

From the Desk of Emperor XV

Carrington Hall Dubois

Happy August 2020!  

It is hard to believe we are half way through 2020.  So much has gone on in these last 7 months and I know we are all wanting to get back to some sense of normalcy, we will get there.  We just have to work together toward that light at the end of this long tunnel.  

Reign XV has been busy raising money and navigating through this "new normal".  We were able to hold our first line meeting in early July.  It was amazing to "see" everyone and to hear so much passion in the voices of our line member.  They are excited and ready to hit the ground running.  Be on the lookout for a few events, starting in September, hosted by our line!

The whole month of July was focused on raising money and supplies for our Reign XV Back to School Supply Drive. We chose two organizations, one in Phoenix and one in Tucson, to help this month. The Phoenix organization was Southwest Human Development (SWHD). SWHD's mission is to strengthen the foundation Arizona’s children need for a great start in life.  The Tucson organization was Brichta Infant and Early Learning Center. Brichta is a nonprofit childcare center that is a research-based early childhood self-paced program that builds strong foundations for student success.  During the time of COVID, they have also opened their doors to offer the childcare of Tucson's front line workers, working to help keep us all safe.  I would like to thank everyone that donated money, supplies or shared our posts on social media.  Because of you we were able to raise $5003.74 of supplies and money for both organizations!  THANK YOU!

We will be taking a little break in August but you can find me on August 15th as part of the cast of the Kings Court, hosted by Baron XV Sir Nate.

In closing I would like to take this time to reflect on the life of someone that was near and dear to my hear, Hope McMullen.  In the years I was able to know Hope, I couldn't help but feel her love, passion and support for every segment of the LGBT+ community in Arizona. She loved all of us. Early on I confided in her my nervousness when it came to being on stage.  She told me to have fun, to always be confident and to smile. It was hard not to do any of those things when you saw her clapping and smiling in the audience. I will miss our monthly dinner.  I will miss bumping into her and Gloria at the Rock, Stacy's, Kobalt or wherever else they would be. Her laugh, her smile, her personality will live in my heart forever.  Thank you truly left an impact some of us only hope to achieve.  I will miss you.

Please remember to love everyone. Black Lives still matter. Register to Vote. Wash your hands and Mask Up AZ!

In love and service,


Emperor XV

Hello Arizona and beyond,

As I am writing this, I am reminded of something my grandpa told me when I was growing up. He would say to me that the most beautiful way to start and end the day is with a grateful heart. I don’t know if he was quoting someone, he never said, but it stuck with me my entire life. Each day I still find myself thinking of the things and people I am grateful to have in my life. It’s hard sometimes when it seems everything around us is falling, but I can attribute this morning ritual to keeping me not only grounded but centered during these uncertain times. This practice has also helped me stay focused on raising critical funds for the LGBTQ+ community in Arizona. It blows my mind that in just three months we have raised just shy of $13,000.00 towards our reign totals! These funds and supplies directly benefit Arizona based organizations who assist those effected by and living with HIV/AIDS, children who are going back to school in Arizona, as well as support the Phoenix Pride Scholarship, and the Bryon Wiley Memorial Scholarship. I have always said that our community knows how to rally behind and assist the most marginalized among us and that when someone is in need, we act. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who donated to these important causes!

Emperor and I are so thankful and grateful to have 40 wonderful individuals assisting us with our vision. A big thank you to ICOA members and community members who have jumped in the line to serve our community with us. Please stay tuned we have so much in store for the community, we have 9 months left of Reign XV. I can only imagine what we will accomplish together to help those in need during these unparalleled times.

A few weeks ago, we lost a dear member of the ICOA and the Phoenix community, Hope McMullen. Her and Gloria Jacques were recently awarded the Heart of the Court award by Emperor at Investitures XV. One of the highlights of my year is going to Emperor’s annual hybrid birthday celebration/New Year’s Eve party, at his and his husband Nick’s lovely home. For the past few years, Hope McMullen and Gloria Jacques attended. Gloria and I have known each other since I was 21 and Hope started coming with her to the shows and attending community events over the last few years. One of my fondest memories of Hope involves us all standing outside because someone had purchased sparklers for everyone to light at the countdown. Everyone happened to be standing in a circle looking at their sparklers illuminating the night sky and out of nowhere Hope says “Look everyone, I am on top!” It was the cutest moment ever. Thankfully the moment was caught on video and was shared once we learned of her passing. Hope I will miss you dearly, especially your hugs and comforting smile that you displayed every time I saw you… and yes my darling, you are on top watching over us all and I am eternally grateful for you. I love you!

In Love,

Empress XV

Community Spotlight

Brandon Packer

Brandon is no stranger to raising money and helping those that are less fortunate.  As Mister Phoenix Pride 2009 and Mister USofA MI Classic 2014, Brandon helped countless organizations.  

He has been a great resource and support to Reign XV, helping us by donating food for our Summertime Food Drive and by donating supplies for our Back to School Supply Drive.  Brandon's selfless acts will always be what makes him a special part of our community.

THANK YOU Brandon!!

XOXO- Carrington and Nikki

ICOA Member of the Month

Louie Granillo

Marquis XV

Quarantine has challenged us all and has forced us to be creative in ways we didn't previously need to be.  Louie, for 8 weeks, dedicated his Tuesday (and sometimes Thursday) night to bring to us Louie Live.  During these 8 weeks, he was able to raise over $700 for various charities throughout Arizona.

Louie is a brand new member to the Imperial Court of Arizona and is Marquis to Reign XV.  In his short time with us, he has already made many contributions and we look forward to seeing more creative and innovative ways in which he will raise money throughout the year.

Meet A Monarch

Jerry Heitman- Emperor VI

1) What attracted you to join the Imperial Court of Arizona? 

My husband Bill and I joined the court near the end of reign III. We had friends who belonged, and we were looking for a social outlet that we could do together, and we loved the idea of having fun while helping the community.

2) During your reign as Emperor, what was one your most memorable events/fundraisers?

Rather than choosing a specific event I would like to answer this question by sharing what is most
memorable to me about our reign and without question I’ll say it was the time spent with my Empress
Lady Christian. We started our reign picking up pieces that resulted from an individual whose
unfortunate actions left little money in the operating account. LC and I had common goals of having fun while raising money for other nonprofits and raising money for the court knowing that we’d have to
spend money to make money. We started our journey on a very tight budget and I’m proud of what we
were able to do. My Emperor’s lanyard was one that I had from a prior title and the female line crowns
were mixed and matched from tiaras that were in storage or worn previously. We had both male and
female lines, but they were separated only by title. The lines were ours and though they were small we
worked together as a team. It was like a family and we traveled together, camped together, worked
together, and had a lot of fun while creating wonderful memories and exceeding our goals.

3) What do you hope for the future of the Imperial Court of Arizona?

During our reign LC and I hoped that the court would not have a regent Monarch before reign X. I
believe it speaks volumes for the members of the ICOA that we have recently crowned Emperor and
Empress XV without having a member of the College fill either of those positions. My hope is that we
continue to grow our membership, benefit our community, and continue having new Monarchs who are
passionate and committed to the positions they hold.

4) If you could give one piece of advise to the new monarchs, what would it be?

Seek feedback from members of the College but make the reign your own! Decide what you want your
legacy to be and make it happen. The challenge will be doing it while respecting the traditions of the
court and honoring the bylaws and policy and procedures of the organization.

5)If you could have done anything differently during your reign, what would you have done, and why?

I cannot live in or change the past. We had a great year, met our goals, and made many new friendships
that will last a lifetime. Time has healed the hiccups that once bothered me and given me the
opportunity to look back and chuckle. It was a wonderful journey spent with my husband Bill Mitchell
and best friend Tom Bledsoe. I had an amazing Empress that will always hold a special place in my heart.
I wouldn’t change a thing.

In Memoriam

Hope McMullen

Hope was born and raised in Milford, Maine and graduated from Old Town High School.

At the age of 23, Hope married Jimmy and traveled with him as his work took them all over the country. After Jimmy’s death, Hope moved to Florida; and at the age of 55, she went to back to school to become a Pharmacy Tech. It’s never too late!

Hope loved going on cruises; and since she lived a few miles from Port Canaveral, she got a lot of last minute deals.

When she had enough of hurricanes, she moved to Arizona at the age of 75.

On her first Saturday (10 o’clock, never 10:01) in Arizona, Hope saw her first Drag Queen; and she soon became a big fan of Drag Shows and Pageants, and made many friends.

Hope was also a collector….of shoes and purses (Gloria is still counting them!)

Hope was preceded by her husband Jimmy McMullen, her mother Myrtle Sherman, and her brothers Tom and Charlie.

She is survived by her sister Gloria, her brother Toby, many nieces and nephews, and her extended Gay-dopted family.

Did I mention that Hope enjoyed a Margarita (or 2), a Whiskey-Water (or 2), and of course her Guinness?

Hope was loved by many and will be dearly missed by all!

KUWTM- Episode 1

July 2020

From the Desk of Empress XV

 Nikki Knowles

From the Desk of Emperor XV

Carrington Hall Dubois

Greetings everyone!

Today I am writing to you as Empress XV of the Imperial Court of Arizona! Wow I am really Empress (if you could see my face right now, I am smiling so big lol). It still boggles my mind that I made this happen with everything thrown at us over the last few months. I would be remiss not to mention a huge thank you to the entire state of Arizona, and everyone who voted for me to be put into this leadership position. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your love and belief that myself, as part of a team, could help move this organization forward during the times we are facing today. I promise to dedicate my entire year fulfilling the promise I made to you while I was campaigning, which was to ensure my line of succession included every facet of our beautiful LGBTQIA+ community working together to change our world one dollar at a time.

I have completed my first month as your chosen monarch, and what a roller coaster of a month we had. After Emperor and I were voted in on May 2nd my brain started clicking immediately on how we could be most effective without a full line invested and our entire city and state quarantined. Not only did we find ourselves struggling to stay healthy and to keep COVID-19 out of our bodies, the injustices and institutionalized racism faced daily by our black brothers, sisters, and friends took priority for everyone, as it should have. I took and continue to take the time to evaluate my thoughts, outlook, and look in the mirror, evaluating how I could help the BLM movement and become a better ally. By making a pledge to myself to do the work to ensure black lead and operated charitable organizations remain a top priority as we fundraise this year, I am more than ready to charge forward. With this at the forefront of our mind Emperor and I participated in Phoenix Rises, a fundraiser for Drinking Gourde Farm and Finding my Shoes. We kicked off reign XV with two more fundraisers, our Summertime food drive for The Joshua Tree Feeding Program, and Healing Pride Wreaths benefiting the Phoenix Pride Scholarship. These two fundraisers will sunset later this week, and we will have an update. Look for many exciting, new and fresh fundraisers this reign!

On June 20, 2020 we invested 40 line-members into our line of succession, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for Arizona. I will go on record as saying Arizona has some of the brightest and hardest working individuals in the country when it comes to raising money for charity, and I am so honored and proud to be leading this group of amazing individuals. To the Empress’s line, let’s let them have it this year! Onward and upward team!

Thank you for tuning into the first episode of Keeping up with the monarchs! I am thrilled and honored to have the platform to come to you every month via our monthly newsletter. Emperor Carrington Hall-Dubois and I have so much in store for you this year, please be sure to stay tuned. Please don’t forget to #MaskUpAz and pretty please, be safe and responsible. All we have are each other and we need everyone to be there with us when this is over.

In Love,

Nikki Knowles

Empress XV of The Imperial Court of Arizona

Happy July!  

I can’t believe it has been about 2 months since I was elected Emperor XV of the Imperial Court of Arizona.  What a fun and interesting experience it has been so far.  Because we are in the middle of a pandemic, things have been operating a little differently.  We have been forced to think outside of the box and to creatively design fundraisers and virtual experiences for our community.  We had the first event of our reign, the Bryon Wiley Memorial Scholarship Fund Jewelry Raffle where we raised $1405 for the scholarship.  Shout out to Emperor II Michael Gaffney for keeping the spirit of Bryon alive though this scholarship!

Empress and I kept pretty busy in the month of June. We started the month with two fundraisers that would last the entire month.  The first was “Healing Wreaths for Pride” which benefited the Phoenix Pride Scholarship fund.  Being a former Mister Phoenix Pride, I know the impact this scholarship has on the recipients and so I was honored to give back in this capacity.  Thank you to everyone that purchased your one-of-a-kind Healing Wreath.  Special THANK YOU to my sister Jennifer who helped create some amazing wreaths!  We raised $900 and I couldn’t be happier!

We also launched the Summertime Food Drive campaign to benefit the Joshua Tree Feeding Program. We asked the community to gather non-perishable food items and Empress and I drove around the valley picking up these donations.  Thank you to those that donated food and those that made monetary donation.  We will be delivering these items to Joshua Tree soon and will update you all on how much food was gathered and how much money was raised!  

On June 19th, Empress and I were honored to be part of Phoenix Rising raising money for Finding My Shoes and Drinking Gourd Farms.  Entertainers from throughout the valley came together to raise money for these two incredible organizations.  Collectively we raised $3000! Thank you to Ike and the staff at VX3 for letting us use for your lovely space.  Shout out to Princess XV Barbra Seville and Mia Inez Adams for keeping us all on track and hosting this event. 

June 20th was our first State event, Investitures XV.  We held this event virtually and some of us were able to be in person at Kobalt bar, as they agreed to hold this private event for us.  Nikki and I invested the line for Reign XV and helped welcome some new members to the organization.  I was also honored to name the Spirit of the Court award to Michael Fairchild and the Heart of the Court award to Hope McMullen and Gloria Jacques!  When we were crowned, Nikki and I met and decided to pick a line that was diverse but also had a creative spirit.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to be successful unless our line was able to hit the ground running.  Please be on the lookout soon for some amazing events brought to you by Reign XV!  THANK YOU to Jeffrey Perales and the staff at Kobalt for keeping us safe and well hydrated!

July is going to be a busy month!  I am excited and honored to help the organization grow and prosper.  As we head into the second half of 2020 remember these things:  #BlackLivesMatter, #MaskUpAZ, #Vote and we are #StrongerTogether

In service,
Carrington Hall-Dubois
Emperor XV of the Imperial Court of Arizona


Community Spotlight

Addie Tude

Addie is a member of the Grand Canyon Sister of Perpetual Indulgence. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Addie has been sewing masks for people throughout the community.  The proceeds of these masks have benefited Joshua Tree feeding program.  

Sister Addie Tude also received The International Betsy Ross Citation from Empress Nicole the Great, Queen Mother I of the Americas and Empress Nicole the Good, Crown Princess Royal I of the Americas to commemorate dedicated service to the community!

The Imperial Court of Arizona and Reign XV would like to thank Sister Addie Tude on being an amazing community leader!

ICOA Member of the Month

Anneliz and Jaime Ahumada

Anneliz and Jaime are long time members and supporters of the Imperial Court of Arizona.  Their involvement began in Reign X and they have been active members ever since.  Anneliz is currently the on the Imperial Court of Arizona board serving as treasurer.  You can see Jaime helping at various events throughout the year.  The Imperial Court of Arizona and Reign XV would like to thank Anneliz and Jaime for all their dedication and years of support!

Meet A Monarch

Julie Craig- Empress II

1) What attracted you to join the Imperial Court of Arizona? 

Prior to Moving to Arizona I had been elected as the First Empress of The Imperial Court of Minnesota in 1990.

I met Michael Gaffney in June 1993 at my first out of town Coronation in Omaha, Nebraska. He had been crowned as Prince Royal 13 of the Imperial court of Nebraska

I moved to Arizona August of 1994 after marrying Michael Gaffney in May 1994

After we had settled in and we got involved with the Phoenix community, we met Joe Kunkle and Steve Lafata.

They had both been involved in other out of state Courts and wanted to start one here in Phoenix.

They were then elected as the first Emperor and Empress of the Imperial Court of Arizona.

The following year, Michael and I ran and became Emperor and Empress 2.

We traveled extensively to other Coronations and met many wonderful people.

2) During your reign as Empress II, what was one your most memorable events/fundraisers?

The most Memorable event, for me, was the Empress’s Black and White Ball held at Kobalt. I had performers from in and outside of our Court performing. It was fun to have everyone in Black And White and to be entertained by so many different people and groups.

3) What do you hope for the future of the Imperial Court of Arizona?

My hope for the future is to continue our mission of fundraising, build our membership and reach out to other organizations.

4) If you could give one piece of advise to the new monarchs, what would it be?

My advice to the new Monarchs is to have fun! You have each other to lean on in case things get overwhelming, and also the College of Monarchs and your Board of Directors. And Me – of course.

5)If you could have done anything differently during your reign, what would you have done, and why?

The only thing I would have done differently is to have been more organized and stayed ahead of the planned events to make things went smoothly.

But once all is said and done – you have a Celebration of all you’ve accomplished.

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