DEAR INDIE: May 16, 2014 | “Becoming a Sister”

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I want to become a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence.  What advice do you have for me?”

Hey Gurl,

What a great question – and I think the perfect question to start off my time as Senior Nunsense Correspondent for!

I feel I missed my calling as a teacher, so I channel that into my work as a Sister every chance I get (um, obvs, I have an advice column).  I truly love mentoring and find many new Sisters seek me out for guidance, whether it’s about makeup or tips on navigating the political waters of a non-profit organization.  I’ve also been doing this work for years and have made plenty of mistakes, so I know what I’m talking about, damn it!

So, you want to serve your community in our fabulous, outrageous manner?  AWESOME!  Grab a drink and pay attention!

The process of becoming a Sister takes well over a year – and you are powerless over it.

You will go through three stages before taking your vows and becoming a Fully-Professed Sister aka Black Veil (yes, we actually take vows): Aspirant, Postulant, Novice.  Before advancing to the next level, you are questioned and voted upon.  It’s like American Idol, RuPaul’s Drag Race and Survivor all rolled up into one.  No one likes being “judged” and there are plenty of tears shed as egos get bruised. The path to Sisterhood is paved in glitter and (sometimes) tears!

Remember why you joined in the first place.

Like I said, the trail is paved with glitter and just maybe some tears so you have to keep your reasons for being here at the forefront of your mind.  Things can – and probably will – get very heavy. Remembering your reasons for petitioning will help buoy you in the hard times.  The Veil can weigh you down, gurl!

Never forget to have fun.

Yes, the process is long.  Yes, it can be stressful.  But we are DRAG NUNS, for God’s sake.  We are here to have a ton of fun while we serve others.  So don’t take yourself and this process so seriously that you forget that very important fact.

Stay in the moment.

Becoming a Sister takes a while, but you only get this once.  You are only ever going to be an Aspirant, Postulant and Novice one time so remain present and savor these moments.  With each new level comes more responsibility and there are many times we Sisters wish we had those days back.  Your time to shine will come, so take it easy while you can!

Follow the rules.

The rules in place really aren’t hard and while we are radical by nature, we still expect our Acolytes to respect the process and the few rules we do have.  If you can’t follow simple structure and rules, what kind of coworker will you be down the line?

Keep an open mind & heart!

Becoming a Sister can be a very transformative experience.  Keeping an open mind and heart will allow that transformation to take place.  I don’t know many people who are the same person they were when they walked through the Convent doors.  Fly, gurl, FLY!

Paint with as many people as possible!

Eight tips in and I’m FINALLY getting to makeup…and there is a reason for that.  While our makeup and habits are what people notice about us, it’s not the most important thing.  Remember: this is the SISTERS of Perpetual Indulgence, not the Makeup Artists of Perpetual Indulgence.  That being said, you should still put effort into your look.  I always tell newbies to paint with as many Sisters as possible – for a couple reasons: you’ll learn about a variety of products, tools and techniques and get to know the people you are going to be working with! Double win!

You don’t have to do every single event.

We only ask people to attend a certain number of events to qualify for advancement.  Most people completely disregard that (fairly) low number and go all out, attending multiple events a week, every week, until they take their vows.  What results is Black Veil Burnout.  I can’t tell you how many Black Veils I’ve seen just vanish after they take their vows.  You just spent a year plus BECOMING a Sister…for what?  Make sure to maintain a balance between your secular and Sister lives because we want Sisters who still have enough energy and passion by the time they Black Veil.  For many, the attention they get as Sisters is addicting but like with anything, moderation is best.  Except for makeup – you can NEVER WEAR TOO MUCH MAKEUP!

Learn your SISTORY!

One surefire way to piss me (and many other Sisters) off is to not know your Sistory.  Not only should you be learning makeup techniques and getting to know people, you MUST know what we’re about – where we’ve been, what we’ve done, our vast accomplishments.  Did you know the Pride flag was created by a Sister? Well, if you studied your Sistory you would!  I know many Sisters who don’t even know who the founders of the Order were and I find that really annoying – and disrespectful.

There is no “one” way to manifest the Mission of The Sisters

It’s perfectly normal – and expected – that you’ll be inspired by the Sisters who have come before you…but remember this: there is no “one” way to manifest the Mission of The Sisters.  Our Mission is to spread joy and absolve guilt and there are as many roads to that destination as there are Sisters walking their own paths.  Some are more loud and boisterous than others…some quieter.  Some are great MC’s and some are great shoulders to cry on.  Some are stereotypically “pretty” – and some are more like walking pieces of art.  Some are more political than others…some prefer to raise money…others prefer to raise spirits.  Don’t ever feel like there is a way you “should” be a Sister.  As long as you are embodying our Mission, you can’t possibly do this job wrong.

So that’s my advice.  It’s not meant to scare you away but honestly, if you could be scared away, you don’t want this enough.  I walked through fire to become a Sister…and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Your Gurl,

Sister Indica

Check out my website and follow me on Twitter!


About Sister Indica 49 Articles
Sister Indica is many things: Senior Nunsense Correspondent for (where she is known for her Sister Indica Says column), sweet and sour host of the hit LGBT podcast JOY BOMB, writer/star of the audio soap opera Blazed All Our Lives, and supreme leader of Ello’s “Ello Drag” community…but above all that, she is Your Homegurl for Life™.


  1. so true, my lovely Sister! It’s been both more challenging and more rewarding than I could ever imagine! My process has been so different than I thought it would be- and that’s a good thing! I’m so glad I have become open to what comes. I am forever changed and I’m still an Initiate! #BringIt

  2. Dear Sister Indica. Thanks so much for this wonderful blog story. I’m an aspirant in San Francisco. Just started in February 2015. Sister Agnes, our Mistress of Novices, suggested I read this and I’m so glad I did. One of my friends Sister Vish who is one of the founders has really helped me as a beginner. For years I would say I want to be a Sister. In typical fashion she thought I was kidding. One day I asked why my question never got answered. Sister Vish thought I had been kidding. For like 7 years lol. Shortly after I attended my first General Meeting and you know how it goes, I was going to events and helping out. It’s been a wonderful experience for me. I had survived a 4 year illness I had retired and I was ready to volunteer. When asked what group I represented I didn’t quite understand the question. I’m a straight female and a sister was asking was I for queers lesbians transgendered etc. my answer I represent the human race and equality for all. My whole life I was a labor union advocate and unions got very involved in gay marriage and equality. I worked for IATSE Theatrical Stagehands and my union was the first in California to approve domestic partner benefits. My short time with the Sisters I’ve been introduced to so many fun and inspiring sisters. My favorite event so far was a Penny Drive to send 3 autistic children to special needs summer camp. Even better all 3 children had been adopted by a Sister. Very inspiring to me. I’m looking forward to becoming a postulant soon and I thank you again for sharing your experience. Very helpful.

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