Photos by Lexey Swall
On Dec. 29, 2018, Dremon Cooper went viral. That’s the day he introduced the world to a queer superhero heavily inspired by Catwoman: Super B*tch. The 19-year-old shared a video that day on social media in which he showcased his ability to perfectly execute acrobatics and gymnastics in hot-pink 6-inch heels. After quickly attracting the attention of the likes of Lee Daniels, Chris Brown and Snoop Dogg, Cooper is now working to prove to the world that his purpose is far greater than a 30-second comedic Instagram post.
Cooper decided to embrace a queer identity when he was about 12. Despite the unhesitating support and acceptance of his mother, Yndia Cooper, the young dancer was routinely harassed and bullied by schoolmates because he decided to live his truth.
“My mother found out, and she accepted me, of course, because she already knew,” Cooper told HuffPost. “I started to get comfortable in my own skin. I was like, OK, why not dye my hair like I always wanted to? Why not wear crop tops? Why not talk to this boy?
“People, they had issues with it.”
Growing up in southeast Washington, D.C., was a challenge. Cooper often heard taunts of “faggot,” and he dealt with depression over the lack of acceptance within his community. Initially, when he would get harassed by students at his school, he would ignore them. But, the dancer told HuffPost, he found the strength to start defending himself.
“I was the type of person to make you respect me, and that’s why I got into a lot of fights,” he said. Growing up, he added, “someone always thought that they can just say what they want to me, and I would just go up to them and let them know, ‘No. You’re not going to say what you want to me.’ It was really hard.”
Cooper embraced his dreams of becoming a gymnast and taught himself how to execute flips and perform other acrobatics. His ability to flawlessly hit a backflip in high heels, paired with his need to fight that persistent bullying, motivated the creation of Super B*tch, an ostentatious, fearless and loud superhero.
“The inspiration behind the superhero was the constant bullying, the constant getting denied for being who I was,” Cooper said. “Super B*tch is a gay superhero fighting crime. Super B*tch is a powerful individual who cares for others, who likes to come to people’s rescue, who’s just fearless, sassy, fun, loving.”
At the end of 2019, Cooper dressed up in a metallic silver crop top, black leggings with pink stripes down the sides, a metallic fanny pack that resembles the one Disney’s Kim Possible wears, and his signature hot pink boots to send a message to a guy he was dating. In the 30-second clip, Cooper used a series of threatening flips to warn potential love interests that he would strike back if they played with his heart. The video got more than 100,000 likes and more than 700,000 views on Instagram.
“When I made the video, I wasn’t playing, but it was just like I was just being funny. I was really serious, as you can see in the video. You can feel it. The boy I was talking to kept playing around with me, and I just made the video. The next thing you know, it starts to go viral. I honestly think this specific video went viral because I was just being myself. The flips also, me and the pink boots. People don’t see that every day.”
The Instagram post has since been shared by numerous celebrities and has led to Cooper creating a video for Rihanna’s makeup line, Fenty Beauty. The entertainer also recently performed on stage with the singer Teyana Taylor, when he was able to show the world some of the voguing he learned from YouTube and from the ball culture, a safe space where members of the LGBTQ community can compete in diverse competitions, such as fiercest voguer, best runway walker and even just who has the strongest face.
“I vogue. I got into vogueing by just looking at YouTube. The ballroom scene is basically a place where you could just be yourself. It became a safe space for me because I could be myself there, and I could do things that I wouldn’t be able to do outside.”
Winning a series of awards and trophies from the ballroom scene has led to the voguer becoming a dance teacher at an LGBTQ nonprofit, Casa Ruby, an organization that provides social services for members of the LGBTQ community.
Although his jocular Instagram skits and masterful acrobatic moves raised Cooper’s visibility, he’s determined to become a leader for queer individuals. The social media star recently sat on a mental health panel to share some of his thoughts on how to take care of oneself mentally. According to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that works to prevent deaths by suicide, LGBTQ youth are almost five times as likely to have tried to kill themselves, compared with heterosexual youth. Understanding this, the dancer has used his videos to raise awareness about the issue.
When he saw a comment that said he had stopped someone from suicide, it “really touched my heart,” he said. “That was the best comment, I think.”
Super B*tch has shown the D.C. native that he can use his voice to have an impact and to command attention.
Cooper is currently in talks with Academy Award-nominated director Lee Daniels to potentially develop a project that highlights Super B*tch. However, Cooper said he might distance himself from the Super B*tch name so he can reach a younger audience. His long-term goal now is to use his talents to develop a nonprofit center for LGBTQ youth and gain influence in the community.
“I want it to be a big impact. I want it to for the younger ones who are just starting to get comfortable with themselves. I really feel like being a role model, they hold you up to a certain standard. You have to be on it. It’s just a lot of pressure sometimes when people look up to you, but I can handle it.”