Nov 21, 2013

In Memoriam

Journey back to St Patrick’s Day 1991 and step inside Gustos Lounge, for their ‘Over the Rainbow’ show. Hosted by Johnathon Crawford as the incomparable Mariah, sample the magic of an era we will always remember with great fondness.

The video quality is far from perfect. It was re-recorded from a video tape by pointing my iphone at my old-school tube-style TV while playing the tape. As such, there are portions that don’t quite occupy the full screen area and the “occasional” audio issue that sounds somewhat like a fireplace crackling in the background. Please bear with it. This 16 minute vintage footage contains some very enchanting and racy performances and is Scribbles way of honouring and saying goodbye to a very special friend.

JOHNATHON CRAWFORD  |  JUL. 22, 1962 - NOV. 19, 2013
The Final Curtain

Although my contact with Johnathon Crawford had been reduced to facebook messages over the past few years, the memories of days gone by are as vivid as though they were yesterday.

I first met Johnathon when I was a bartender at Gustos Lounge. As Niagara's only LGBT club, it was the place to be and for many reasons. You could come during the week to shoot pool or join in the weekly euchre tournaments, put your dancing shoes on and groove to the sounds of the weekend DJ's and probably most memorable, you could try to squeeze your way into a building filled beyond capacity to take in live plays, drag shows and fundraisers.

That's where Johnathon came into the picture. A  shoe salesman by day, Johnathon was part of a elite group of talents who performed on Gustos stage at night, much to the delight of the cheering crowds.

Sometimes he was Johnathon Crawford, singing live or hosting a fundraiser or themed event. Other times he was Mariah - flawless in appearance - but quick to point out, despite taunting, 'Flawless' was not part of Mariah's pseudonym.

Foreign to most clubs, Gustos was also known for live stage productions. Johnathon landed a plum role in 'Murder in the Magnolias' and was make-up artist "extraordinaire" for the bar's most elaborate production 'The Rocky Horror Show' which was directed by someone named Darryl Bell (who struck an uncanny resemblance to Chris Snow.)

Oh the laughs we shared when I would watch Johnathon and our band of heroes in rehearsals or when I'd get up the nerve to join them on stage in some minor role.

Johnathon's laugh was infectious and he wore his passion for his art on his sleeve, always willing to help others master their craft.

Of course, Gustos was only one of the places Niagara would get to enjoy Mr Crawford's talents. He worked with Garden City Productions (GCP), with one of his favourite plays being Sugar Babies.

In an interview in the early 90's with Scribbles sister publication Gustos Grapevine, Johnathon admitted he liked to see everyone on stage do well, a trait he felt made him not quite competitive enough for the acting business.

Johnathon left Niagara several years ago where he continued to make new friends and find someone special to share life's adventures with.

Sadly his battle with cancer ended on November 19th, leaving shock waves across Ontario and beyond as many recall the amazingly gifted and genuine friend they have lost.

In his interview with us over two decades ago, Johnathon Crawford concluded with this statement:  "Don't sit in the background complaining that something should be done. Get your buns up front and do something for your community and you".  

Wise words from a man who subscribed to that philosophy and who will always be remembered with great fondness and admiration.

Rest in peace Johnathon.


Visit Scribbles Photo Album Remembering Johnathon -Click Here

Chrissy Snow Recalls Johnathon Crawford (His "Mama")

 So, one my dear old friends has made his way to a bigger & better stage. Johnathon Crawford (my Mama) lost his battle to cancer. My first meeting of Mama was years and years ago - he was tending bar at some little dive in St. Catharines, down in a basement as I recall. It was very casual, my friend said "This is our bartender, Johnathon, say hello." (I was fresh & new back then lol) Funny how sometimes a moment like that sticks with you.

But that's the way my Mama was, a true "Presence" that stayed with you always. Several years later I ended up at Gustos Lounge, and there was a Drag Show going on. "Please welcome to the stage, Mariah !!" And WOW, what an amazing performance. I'll never forget watching Mariah do toe spins, the splits, and an impeccable lip sync to "Miss Otis Regrets". 

Right then and there I knew that all my secret bedroom singing to Barbra Streisand had now led to this moment. Soon after, we became friends and realized we had a common love and passion for music, the theatre and arts. 

He introduced me to all his friends - Dale Betts, Virginia Marie Eckert, Ken Leavoy, my Ex, Michael, Rhonda Richards, Faron Gough and a countless slew of raggabaggers LOL. 

Those were the best days of my life back then. And, as was Johnathon's nature, he Mothered us all. He introduced me to Drag, did my makeup (for a long time), dressed me, lent me his wigs and jewelry. In fact, it wasn't till a few years later at one of my annual Christmas part's in Dunnville, where he "accidentally" shaved off my eyebrow that I finally decided I needed to learn to do my own makeup. He taught me that as well.

I was lucky enough to see Mama several weeks ago, a chance visit in his hospital room. It was like old times. We were able to tell each other how much we loved each other, had big hugs, and caught up on lives. How lucky I was to be able to have that moment. I even helped him put in his eye drops - cause that's how well we blended together, like no time had passed LOL.

So to you Mama - Thank You - for letting me be a part of your wonderful life.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Dennis, and friends and family.

Chrissy Snow

Express Your Condolences, Memories of Johnathon and Thoughts about our Tribute & Vintage Video in 'Comments' section below...