Remembering Lady Red Couture, the ‘Stunt Queen’ of ‘Hey Qween’

Posted July 25, 2020 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Larger-than-life ‘Hey Qween’ co-star dies, leaving the gay world a little less happy


I just learned that Lady Red Couture, the bubbly and larger-than-life personality that worked on the set of the popular YouTube show Hey Qween, passed away on Saturday, July 25. The beloved drag queen, trans activist and “budtender” was 43.

Those that follow her know that Lady Red has gone public before about her health issues, particularly the chronic hereditary illness called Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. Lady Red (Kareemia Baines) had a devastating episode last week, forcing the ‘Hey Qween’ co-star into the hospital. We heard she was doing better, but according to a recent Insty post made by ‘Hey Qween’ creator Jonny McGovern, she coded on Saturday morning.

Gosh. Where do I begin? Since delving into the world that is RuPaul’s Drag Race, Hey Qween and the galaxy of content created by Jonny McGovern and Lady Red Couture — including spin-off shows like Look at Huh, Hot T, Judge Lady Red (a playful spin on Judge Judy) — has been a weekly religious exercise for me. Over the years, the taped and uploaded content produced on its glittery set has entertained thousands upon thousands with their wild, wacky interviews of LGBTQ+ celebrities and supplying a warehouse load of laughs, gay humor and edutainment for the children. And part of that charm, that zesty magic was Lady Red and that bubbly personality.

Lady Red with 'Hey Qween' host Jonny McGovern

Lady Red with ‘Hey Qween’ host Jonny McGovern

Lady Red was always that extra zing, which worked best when playing off McGovern’s silly jokes or giving comic relief or that needed dose of street wisdom when needed. And trust me, Couture always had that ounce of wisdom for that necessary reality check. Together the two were comic gold. For the gays, they were our Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter, our Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon. And although they weren’t on the big screen commanding the audiences those late-night tycoons did, you couldn’t talk about the plethora of talk shows and podcasts of the gay world without mentioning Hey Qween. At DragCon, RuPaul Charles’s gigantic annual conventions celebrating everything from drag culture, Lady Red was a mainstay. Alongside McGovern, she appeared on ‘Hey Qween’ talk panels and interviewed previous show guests along with emerging drag talent throughout the weekend event.

In 2018, newer episodes of Hey Qween and Look at Huh! were uploaded on Netflix. It has since been removed. Today, you can view much of the content on Amazon Prime.

I always looked forward to the end when the instrumental of the theme song would play. Lady Red would break out in song with a Jennifer Holiday-styled, gospel-powered belting. Jonny would always call it “that black lady screaming.” Lady Red would use that voice in and around WeHo from time to time in her live shows or when hosting karaoke. And thankfully, she put that voice to great use on a few dance tracks over the years mostly produced by the talented longtime Hey Qween associate and musical director Adam Joseph. In 2018, Lady Red dropped her take on Gwen Guthrie’s club hit “The Rent.” The splashy electro version really showed off the best parts of Lady Red’s instrument. “The Rent” was just one of fourteen songs that made it to #StuntQueen, her debut album.

Lady Red Couture's debut album, #StuntQueen, released in 2018.

Lady Red Couture’s debut album, #StuntQueen, released in 2018.

But Couture, no stranger to comedy, lent that bombastic voice to Joseph’s world of parodies. At the height of ’24K Magic’ popularity, the two dropped the hilarious “24 Inch Magic,” which referenced lace fronts and weave extensions. Then there’s “Extra Value Meal,” a glorious fast food parody that uses the backdrop of Whitney Houston’s Salsoul-sampled “One Million Dollar Bill.” And then there’s “Latrice Royale,” playfully paying homage to one of her real-life drag besties (RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Latrice Royale) by asserting “I am not Latrice Royale.”

Over the years, Lady Red would express interest in competing on Drag Race. It’s not like she didn’t try. It was public knowledge that Lady Red submitted dozens of audition tapes. And it kinda hurts that she didn’t get that golden opportunity on the big screen. But the immeasurable YouTube personality was beloved by so many, even by the hundreds of queens that did make it to the hit TV show. One of them, Latrice Royale, wrote it best when referencing Lady Red’s untimely passing: “Heaven better be ready for some cutting up and kikiing, children.”

And in 2020, at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic and during Pride Month, Lady Red was one of several drag queens featured in Harper’s Bazzaar magazine for an online photo series feature called ‘Striking Portraits of America’s Most Legendary Drag Queens’. Says a lot for a queen that didn’t make the Drag Race cut.


The heartfelt tributes and reactions on Jonny McGovern’s initial post are still pouring in. Many of them are alums of RuPaul’s Drag Race and were previous guests on Hey Qween.












About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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