Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Religious disorder

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence set up shop in Vancouver

"Just look for the glitter lipstick on the cocktail straw," says Novice Sister Ethica Slüt with (left to right) Novice Sister Hyde N Sikh and Novice Sister Merry Q Contrary. Credit: Jim Hankle

On her very first Bar Ministry outing in Vancouver, Novice Sister Merry Q Contrary knew she’d found her calling.

“Two of the butchest leather boys came up to us and offered their services — protection on demand!” she coos.

The good sister was ministering to the boys of PumpJack and J Lounge when she drew their most wanted attention.

“These gentlemen assumed we were up from Seattle,” she says, referring to the abbey just a few hours south where nearly 50 Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence reside.

“They said, ‘It’s about time. We need you here.’ They see our black habits as a sign of community good will.”

So do the sisters.

Their order traces its history back to around 1976, when some retired habits from a Roman Catholic convent were slipped into some gay fingers for a special production of The Sound of Music.

Three years later, these same habits were gleefully resurrected in the drag liberation days of San Fran’s late-1970s Castro.

It wasn’t long before the first Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was born, unique habits, “ear-brassier” wimples and all. There are now 35 orders in nine countries around the world.

Determined to raise funds and awareness through humour and compassion, these white-faced glitter girls were some of the first activists to respond to the AIDS crisis in the US.

Though Vancouver never hosted its own official chapter, many people fondly remember our rollerblading nun, Sister C.

Is Vancouver finally ready for a whole abbey of religious disorder?

These sisters seem to think so.

“We’ll liberally hand out condoms and advice, clean up the park where our boys romp, fundraise for local HIV and homelessness charities. Just look for the glitter lipstick on the cocktail straw. We’re here to effect change in our own communities through service, stewardship and social justice,” offers Novice Sister Ethica Slüt.

“We’re here to give you a good time while doing it,” Merry Q Contrary politely interrupts.

“Embrace your joy, denounce your guilt, and, as queer poet James Broughton wrote, ‘Live in your body, not your mind. Eat more chocolate than beans, and fuck often,’” sister Ethica Slüt advises.

Her hidden agenda? “Looking pretty and hearing scandalous confessions,” she readily reveals.

You heard the good nun. Ever wanna be a nun with no knickers? Any leftover choir boy fantasies? All positions now need filling.

Take the “vow to promulgate universal joy, expiate stigmatic guilt and serve the community.”

Look for the sisters’ weekly Friday evening S’Habit gatherings, search for them on Facebook or catch them at yvrsisters.ca

Let the irreverence begin.