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Her Imperial Majesty, Empress XII Panzi, The Empress of Loyalty and Laughter in emerald green. Thom Hansen hails from Jersey City, NJ and spent the first 15 years of his life trying to get out. New York City was 30 cents and a 15 minutes train ride away – so lo and behold, Greenwich Village was discovered. Thom came out when he was 13 in the summer of 1967 and found Greenwich Avenue and Christopher Street in 1969 – quite a coming out party that year! For all of you who were there, Mama’s Chicken Rib (across the Street from Paula’s) was his hang out.

Thom Hansen aka PanziThe boring part: academically and business wise, Thom went to Pace University as an Business and Accounting Major. Thom’s career began as a financial analyst, a business manager in the textile industry and an actor (in and out of drag). He founded and ran his own Real Estate Management Firm for 10 years, and is now Vice President of the International Division of a major direct marketing firm.

In 1971 at 17, Thom and some friends had plans to see Melba Moore at the Waldorf Astoria, and the times being what they were, they knew that they would be seated in the rear as they were 3 men and 1 woman. So they had a few drinks (and other things) and convinced Thom to “dress” so that they could get a better seat – and they did! Front Table! Kim O’Hara showed up in a short peach lace dress, brown opaque stockings, sensible shoes and a page boy wig. His life was never the same after that.

Panzi on the phone. If Madonna calls?He joined a group of performers in a group called “Mom’s Greenery”, performing mostly at the Goldbug on West 3rd Street. Each “girl” had a flower’s name and emulated popular personalities. Thom was “Daisy” and his specialty was Marilyn Monroe, Liza Minnelli and Alice Faye (Alice Faye!!!!! – go figure …). Thom retired at the tender age of 21, met his partner Max Killingsworth and discovered Fire Island. Cherry Grovers thought Daisy was an odd name and someone said: “Daisy??? My God, you are more like a pansy.” And the name was born. However, if they were going to call him that awful name, he was going to join one of his idols. Liza, and spell it special – with a “Z” and an “I” (She stole that song from him).

In 1976, Panzi was elected by the Arts Project of Cherry Grove as the First Homecoming Queen of Cherry Grove, and capitalized on the title. He appeared every week end and blessed someone – anyone – and promoted all of the Arts Project's activities throughout the Community. This was also the year the Invasion of the Pines began – 9 lonely cross-dressed Grovers trying to make a statement, but really just trying to raise a little hell. Hell was raised and today nearly 300 revelers in drag join the Invasion every July 4th.

Panzi looking over her eye-glasses.

Since that time, Panzi has been a long-term resident of the Grove, performing nearly every year at the local Community House and the Ice Palace. He appeared on the Brini Maxwell Show on local cable as Mary Ellen, the zany neighbor, and also appeared in several Off-Broadway and Way-Off Broadway productions.

He joined the Imperial Court of New York in 1993 and was elected Empress in 1998-1988 – Her Imperial Majesty, Empress XII Panzi, The Empress of Loyalty and Laughter. She serves and Executive Secretary on the International Court Council, which is the overseeing organization of over 70 Courts in the United States, Canada and Mexico and is currently Board President of the Imperial Court of New York.