History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

Tempest Heat
aka Jonathan Carthell Hughlett



February 15, 1982
January 2, 2024
Primary Involvements:

Drag performer
Advocate, Black Queer inclusion
Advisory Panel, Wis. LGBTQ History Project

Primary Location:

Milwaukee, WI



Tempest Heat has been a staple in the Wisconsin Drag community for over 20 years. Tempest was an advocate and community supporter for years before becoming a performer. Tempest possesses a depth of knowledge not only about the Wisconsin drag community, but specifically, the black LGBTQ community.

Tempest Heat was the drag persona of Jonathan Carthell Hughlett.

As 'Tempest Heat', she graced many stages across Wisconsin, serving as a mentor or "drag mother" to countless other performers. Hughlett was a champion for Black, gay and drag history.

Hughlett won many titles as a pageant performer, including "Miss LaCage" (2008-09), "Miss WI USofA At Large" (2010) and "Miss Gay Madison" (2023). Hughlett was also a regular performer at PrideFest, Hamburger Mary's, D.I.X., This Is It and La Cage in Milwaukee, and FIVE Nightclub in Madison. Hughlett hosted drag queen story hours for children.

Tempest and co-drag legend B.J. Daniels shared their firsthand experiences entertaining in the drag scene from the 1980's to the present in a '#BeSeen' podcast with Radio Milwaukee in 2023, particularly including how the community came together during the AIDS crisis. (Click the link to listen.)

Tempest had recently joined the Advisory Panel of the Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project in November 2023.

Hughlett died on January 2, 2024. An official cause of death is not yet known, but the performer had been battling kidney disease and receiving dialysis treatments. Obituaries and tributes were posted by Wis-NPR, MJSOnline, BNN-Breaking, as well as on CBS-58 TV.

In 2020, Tempest shared the following memoir for the book "Milwaukee Drag: Seven Generations of Glamour":

    "I started doing drag in 2007. I met a queen named Misha Mahon .... she was a trans woman who performed at Cest la Vie. She was the first person to put me in drag and I fell in LOVE with it.

    Before I met her, I would go to a black gay bar in Riverwest called Emeralds.... the Dj (Dj Wayne) would play all this Chicago House Music and all the kids would be vogueing in the bar...it was a small bar, but they still had drag shows.... I fell in love with seeing Shannon Dupree doing Patti Labelle, and Lady Symone doing Tina Turner and Kenya Black...she was a Gorgeous Trans woman who was always half naked but she had BODY so everyone loved watching her lol also Tracy Ross was another legendary performer I saw at Emeralds. Lastly and she has passed on, was Baja Bazaar (rip)... omg she was CAMP! I remember she came out in a gown made from Aldi grocery bags singing Eryka Badu "bag lady" ..it was everything lolololol

    Emeralds was the spot, but down the street in Riverwest, there was a black lesbian bar called Barbie Dolls, the owner was a woman named Barbie she was super nice, and always has a live DJ playing Chicago house music as well...

    Eventually they closed sadly, but a new spot came along called "Conversations" ....this was another gay bar, owned by an old friend of mine named Devon. I would go there every weekend, especially since I knew the owner well lol .... there was also a black gay bar in Walkers Point called "Viva LA Femme" and lastly a black gay bar called "Purr" which was the same owner as Conversations, she closed the one bar to open up a larger spot (Purr) ... that was one of the first places I was a cast member, and I performed on Thursday nights each week. " - Tempest Heat.

Tempest passes on Miss LaCage title
(OutBound vol. 8-05, May 2009)
Tempest appearance in sold-out UWM drag show
(see center of article)
(Wis. Gazette vol. 1-09, March 2010)
Tempest to appear in 'Old West' entertainers show at Montage lounge (La Cage)
(Wis. Gazette vol. 2-03 Dec. 2010)
Tempest to appear in drag show at Kenosha Pride
(see bottom left column)
(Wis. Gazette vol. 6-17, July 2015)
Tempest appearances at Hamburger Mary's
(Wis. Gazette vol. 23-01 Jan. 2016)
Tempest to be in PrideFest 2017 Drag show
(Quest vol. 17-05, June 2017)
Tempest to appear in Opening show at PrideFest 2018
(top right column)
(Quest vol. 25-03, June 2018)
Tempest in Memorium (posted on Facebook, Jan. 2024)
Planned fundraiser at FIVE Nightclub in Madison
(Jan. 7, 2024)

Tempest Heat

Tempest Heat

Tempest Heat

Tempest Heat

Tempest Heat

Tempest (on left) in
Tangerine Studio photo shoot lineup
(Quest vol. 19-06, June 2012)

Tempest Heat
(Quest vol. 19-06, June 2012)

Tempest (center) as Miss Courage MKE
(at Pridefest, June 2018)

Credits: Web site concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb;
Last updated: January-2024.

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