Johnson stated she never "did drag seriously" because she "didn't have money to do serious drag", stating she'd always get her clothes from the thrift shop, and was known to add flowers all over her head; Johnson often designed most of her outfits.
because everybody used to call her "Michelle", and she claimed, "I was a little boy and I didn't think that was a nice name for a boy.
That (42nd Street)'s where I got the name 'Johnson' from Howard Johnson's restaurant." The "P" in her name stood simply for "pay it no mind", as recalled by Bob Kohler, one of her fellow friends and fellow activists in the gay movement, who was bailing her out of jail, when the judge in Johnson's case asked her what the "p" stood for, Johnson snapped her finger and said "pay it no mind".
Shortly after that, she and close friend Sylvia Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) organization (initially titled Street Transvestites Actual Revolutionaries), and the two of them were a visible presence at gay liberation marches and other radical political actions.
In 1973, Johnson and Rivera were banned from participating in the gay pride parade by the gay and lesbian committee who were administering the event stating they "weren't gonna allow drag queens" at their marches claiming they were "giving them a bad name".
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I mean how many years does it take for people to see that?
We're all in this rat race together." During those moments when Johnson's violent side emerged, according to an acquaintance Robert Heide, Johnson could be aggressive and short-tempered and speak in a deeper voice and, as Malcolm, would "become a very nasty, vicious man, looking for fights".
According to Wicker, a witness saw someone engaging in a fight with Johnson days prior to her death calling her a homophobic slur in the process and later bragged to someone that he "had killed a drag queen named Marsha" at a bar.
Only ten days before her death, Johnson gave an extensive, filmed interview which forms the core of the 2012 documentary, Pay it No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P.
(Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), alongside close friend Sylvia Rivera.