Sushi’s ‘home sweet home’ dream has finally become a reality

BY TERRY SCHMIDA

KONK LIFE STAFF WRITER

Home really is where the heart is – especially in these uncertain times.

So it’s great to be able to report some good news for a change; namely that a nationally-known Key Wester has finally found her piece of the rock, along with the family that will truly make it a home.

The home-buyers in question are Gary “Sushi” Marion, who for years rang in the new year on CNN, riding her trademark red pump to the sidewalk. And for decades she’s been musing about just such a house buying project. All while making a name as one the town’s best-known drag queens, and a larger-than-life personality.

Just last week, Marion and husband of five years, Jeff Kucin, finally purchased a house, and have been busy redecorating; transforming it into a home. And the way it all played out has an almost karmic quality to it.

“I just got so tired of renting,” said Marion, who once mused about creating a “drag queen retirement home,” for the many colleagues she’s shared the 801 Cabaret stage with over the years. “It just costs so much to live in Old Town now, and with the 801 closed down last month, we had to start making face masks to get by. But my friend Marlena Dietrich, whom I know from the club, had a house she was ready to sell, and asked me if I wanted to buy it. It still hasn’t completely sunk in yet that it’s ours now.”

People in Key West usually get by with a little help from their friends and this case was no exception.

After cobbling together a down payment from family, Marion and Kucin had their meeting of minds with their seller friend Dietrich, who is leaving town after owning her home for eight years. But the couple still needed help putting the deal together.

That’s where friend Michelle “ChelleBe” Blades, the broker/owner of Realty Executives Florida Keys; and Home Loan Expert Kristen Eklund, came in. Finding just the right property for clients is Blades’ passion, so she quickly set about helping Marion and Kucin navigate the often confusing paperwork, on their way to making this dream home a reality.

“[Dietrich] turned down what were technically better offers,” Blades said. “But she stuck to this one because she really wanted them to have this house. This was something that was really heartfelt. That woman used her heart.”

This kind gesture on the part of Dietrich, Blades, and Eklund hasn’t gone unappreciated by the Mid-town home’s proud new owners.

“They all worked towards selling me the house,” Marion said.”It was amazing how it all came together. Everyone just sort of jumped in and played a part. And we’re getting a little help from our friends with painting the house. I’m very grateful about the whole thing. It really is our dream come true.”

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