James Livingston Hall, known better to many as Flora Tron, passed away on February 12, 2008, due to HIV related complications, leaving many friends and loved ones behind.
Originally from London Ontario, Jim and his family moved to Kelowna and then settled in Calgary when Jim was in his late teens. From Calgary, Jim went to Vancouver and worked as a successful makeup artist and Drag performer for many years. After becoming ill he had returned to Calgary to be closer to friends and family.
For many, Jim was that one person who could always attract the most attention in a room. Whether in or out of Drag, close friends felt that James exuded a positive energy that made people feel instantly draw to him. He very much enjoyed being around others, and being the life of the party.
Like many Drag Queens, Jim had his first taste of Drag on Halloween. Guy Polak, one of Jim’s dearest friends for nearly thirty years, remembers that first night and how “Flora Tron” came to be,
“Jim did drag for one of the very first times on Halloween in the very early 80’s. He went to a house party and took along a purse that had huge flowers sewn on the side of it. By the next morning, the name Flora had stuck like glue. The Tron part was attached years later. There was a game at the bar 318 that we used to play all night long called Tron. We wasted a lot of money on it and that is where the last name came from.”
In 1985, Jim (Flora) was crowned the 9th empress of the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch (ISCCA) a title that allowed her to travel all around North America. Again, Guy recalls,
”When he was empress and even before that time people would chant his name before he went on stage. This got him fueled up and he always walked away with enough tips to pay for his night, and a lot of applause. I used to laugh because he almost never knew all of the words. He would spend about 30 minutes with a Walkman before leaving the house and never quite got it right, but he was always fun to watch.”
A tradition in the Court is for Drag Queens to act as surrogates to the younger generations starting in Drag. Flora was no exception. While in Vancouver Flora would cross paths with a young queen named Nira Nyrock - known today as Nina Tron. Flora took this young queen under his wing and exposed him to everything that was fabulous in drag and in life.
Nina still remembers how she went from being Nira to Nina. “Flora always used to sing this song to me - Nina, Pretty Ballerina. This made me change my drag name to Nina - I took on the last name of Tron as Flora was like my Drag Mom and it’s what you do in the Court. I never really knew what Nina, Pretty Ballerina was; I just went along with it. It was years later when I moved to Calgary that I found out that it was an ABBA song.”
A moving memorial for Flora was organized by close friend and fellow drag performer Devon Mills at Coronation 32 of the ISCCA. In a strange way things came full circle, as this year’s empress was Flora’s “Nina, Pretty Ballerina “, Nina Tron, continuing forward with the Tron Dynasty.
Flora will be dearly missed and remembered by many in the GBT community.
Those who wish to contribute to the memory of Flora can contact Beswick House to make a donation.