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Local personality Danny Morales/Aqua Netta dies
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

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Danny Morales, 51, died Oct. 12 of heart failure.

Windy City Times was notified of his death via Facebook postings.

At the time of his death, Morales was in an 17-month relationship with Executive Assistant/House Manager Rick Calmelat. They lived together in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

Morales was born May 14, 1966 in Chicago and graduated from North Park High School in 1984.

He spent most of his life working in the restaurant/hospitality industry and most recently became an entrepreneur with his long-time friend Alan Affelt. They started an online business importing heat transfer vinyl to sell directly to crafters and small businesses. Recently, the business was taking off with regular customers, growing sales and new products. Morales also had his own eBay business and was a buyer/seller of fashion and design items.

Morales also created the celebrated character Aqua Netta in the late '80s and '90s and performed in that character at Berlin Nightclub and the now defunct establishments Cairo, Foxy's and Red Dog. He was a frequent winner of Chicago's Drag Race competition in the '90s.

Morales is survived by Calmelat, his mother Marta, sisters Debbie Morales, Victoria ( Ronald Kendall ) Smith, Missy Farina and brothers Raymond Morales and Marco ( Christina Somerville ) Morales, nieces and nephews Joshua, Jonathan, Jordan, Jasmin, Michael and Sage as well as countless members of his friend-family.

"Danny owned my heart with an immediacy reserved for 'lesbians'," said Calmelat. "He was larger than life, sharp tongued, wildly creative, hilariously funny and ridiculously handsome with lips I lived to kiss. Danny was also a generous and kind spirit, would tell the hard truth, an amazing cook, caretaker, friend and lover. He made me feel loved, without end, caveat, motive or exception ... completely and was my everything and I am diminished without him. The hole that is left feels much larger than my entire heart. I love you babe, and I will seek you out in my dreams and all that is beautiful."

Calmelat also relayed a remembrance from their 13-year-old wise-beyond- her-years neighbor, Alli Hohl: "Danny will forever live in my heart for as long as I live. I miss him so much. I did not get to say goodbye but he is watching over me so there is no need to say goodbye."

A number of Morales' other friends also provided remembrances of him.

"Although Danny did not suffer fools gladly, he cared deeply about his friends," said Carson Doran. "Danny had an innate ability to focus in on what made you tick, what was important in your life and he celebrated those things with you. He had such an individual, rare character. This is a monumental loss for us."

"Danny was one of a kind," said Linda Little. "I will forever miss his sharp wit, quick one liners and the ability to always make me laugh as well as cherish every moment I had with him."

"For my entire adult life, Danny has been my big brother—the wiser, wittier, funnier, more fashionable brother to be sure," said Daniel Booz. "I have said that to be in Danny's presence is to willfully diminish oneself, something I would gladly do over and over again because I always knew I would walk away better than before. He led, we followed. It was not fair really—no one could ever keep up with him. We chased his intellect and became smarter. We laughed with him and became more aware of life's joys and absurdities. We received his generosity and became kinder. We were granted his steadfast loyalty and learned what love really looks like. I am so immensely grateful to have been diminished, and thus enriched, by following my brother and best pal around."

"Danny flew without a net," said writer/actor Paul Oakley Stovall. "For our intimate friend circle, young gay men in the '90s attempting to start our careers, find our way, be out, be proud, date and stay out late, Danny was our beacon of light. His caustic alter ego, Aqua Netta, was a trailblazer in the drag performance community and in life. Aqua was agile, witty, bold and transformative; a brave mix of Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Sandra Bernhardt and Lady Miss Kier, with a healthy dash of Flip Wilson. Back then, Danny was never concerned with being right, being loved or even being understood. He was too busy marching ahead, unencumbered into the future. Our choice, our decision, our mission was always to just try and keep up. And now, he has taken flight again. Oddly fitting. The world never could contain him."

"Danny was an entertainer and a host at heart," said Karen Murtagh. "He loved good food, good company and laughter. But good is understating it—when Danny cooked the results were beautiful to the eye and to the palate, he surrounded himself with smart, interesting, true people and did not have time for those who did not fit that description. He enjoyed laughing with a big contagious laugh but enjoyed even more using his sharp wit to amuse those around him via wry observations, snarky commentary and silly yet smart jokes. He was a force of nature, but also soft, sensitive and in-tune to the emotions of those around him. It was pleasant to be in Danny's spotlight whether to be teased, comforted or complimented because his energy was pure, intense, focused and loving."

"Every interaction with Danny was a delight," said Maya Shewnarian.. "One evening he texts me to ask how I was doing, I told him I was tired. Immediately he responded with this. 'Sleepy, exhausted, spent, never tired. Tired is what we call others. We do not refer to ourselves as tired, ever.'"

Friends and family gathered last week to mourn their loss and celebrate Morales' life. The funeral took place Oct. 18 at St. Lambert Catholic Church in Skokie, Illinois and he was buried at Maryhill Catholic Cemetery in Niles, Illinois.

"After the funeral, we [his friends] gathered at Hydrate to tell stories, sing and dance for hours to Danny's favorite songs," said Booz. "It was a magical night that enriched all who attended. A fitting tribute to a man who enriched all who loved him. A fund has been set up to cover the cost of Danny's funeral and burial. To donate visit https://www. ."

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