Danny La Rue........ With his dazzling coiffures, extravagant costumes, immaculate make-up, fitted eyelashes, blonde peek-a-boo wig and high heels, La Rue — tall and handsome — brought an air of the most amiable and poised self-mockery to clubs, cabarets, variety halls and summer shows for nearly 40 years, and was at a time billed the most famous drag queen in the world at! The Unforgettable Danny La Rue' & that he was! Before Rupaul had raced or Lilly Savage had shop lifted, Danny La Rue was it.
La Rue was an Irish-born British entertainer known for his singing and drag impersonations. He served in the Royal Navy as a young man following his father's footsteps, and even had a brief career delivering groceries, but he became known for his skill as a female impersonator (or "comic in a frock" as he preferred to be called) in the United Kingdom and was featured in theatre productions, and in film, television and records.
Among his celebrity impersonations were Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Margaret Thatcher. At one point he had his own nightclub in Hanover Square, and also performed on London's West End. In the 1960s he was among Britain's highest-paid entertainers. In 1982 he played Dolly Levi in the musical Hello, Dolly!. He also has the distinction of being the only man to take over a woman's role in the West End theatre when he replaced Avis Bunnage in Oh, What a Lovely War! and he was until his death still a regular performer in traditional Christmas pantomime shows in Britain. In 1968 his version of "On Mother Kelly's Doorstep" reached number 33 in the UK singles chart; La Rue later adopted the song as his theme tune.
He appeared in Every Day's a Holiday, The Frankie Howard Show, Our Miss Fred, Twiggs, Decidedly Dusty, Entertainment Express, Blackpool Bonanza and the BBC's Play of the Month in a production of Charley's Aunt (1969). He made a guest appearance in the Mr. Bean episode Mr. Bean in Room 426 in 1993. He most recently appeared in Hello Danny a biographical show performed at Benidorm Palace, which opened in Spain in November 2007. The part of the young La Rue was played by Jerry Lane, who also co-created and directed. La Rue appeared at the start of the show and then in an interview on stage in part of the second half. He also performed a number of songs. This show proved to be La Rue's final major public appearance.
La Rue suffered a mild stroke in January 2006 whilst in Spain on holiday after his final Pantomime and all of his planned performances were cancelled. He had been suffering from prostate cancer for many years unbeknown to his fans. He had several subsequent strokes and developed cancer of the throat. He died in his home shortly before midnight on May 31 2009 at the age of 81, his companion, Annie Galbraith, was with him at his home when he died. La Rue was laid to rest with his partner, Jack Hanson, who were a coupled for 40 years.
Back in the day when I did drag it was all about the entrance and huge looks to me.... so this clip gives me chills...... I adore this.
Now this is a entertaining queen.
I can only imagine the entertaining going on upstairs!
I love movies, especially old ones. Since we are looking at Drag History this month, there have been some really good films featuring drag queens themselves or actor portraying drag queens.
Over the years I've seen many, so we here at the Casa thought it was a good time to take a look at some of our favorite queens in film. These are some of my favorites I feel should be seen, and ones I enjoyed the most.
The Adventures of Priscilla
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a 1994 Australian comedy-drama film written and directed by Stephan Elliott. The plot follows two drag queens and a transgender woman, as they journey across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus that they have named "Priscilla", along the way encountering various groups and individuals. The film's title references the English slang term "queen" for a drag queen or female impersonator.
Under seen 1968 documentary I feel, featuring old-school drag performers and at least one future trans woman, competing in a pageant that was judged by, among others, Andy Warhol. It was made in a time when virtually everything about it was illegal, and it serves up both the legendary Crystal LaBejia and International Chrysis. Have you heard of better drag names than those? Talk about some catty scenes too.
Torch Song Trilogy
Straight-up weeping is on the menu as pioneering out gay actor Harvey Fierstein takes his stage play to film, alongside Anne Bancroft as his judgmental mother. It’s a whole lot of downbeat, but it also proves that lip-syncing for your life is only what you do when you can’t actually croak it out all live and froggy.Arnold, a famous drag queen, tragically lost his lover Alan in a hate crime Alan tried to prevent. Arnold is now torn between his memories on Alan, his bisexual lover Ed, their new adopted teenage gay son David and Arnold's never quite satisfied mother.
Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar!
Three drag queens travel cross-country until their car breaks down, leaving them stranded in a small town. Too me, it was basically an American remake of Priscilla in everything but name, the 1995 drag road trip film is was still a charmer none the less. Three queens set out, this time not from Sydney to Alice but from New York to Hollywood, in a battered Cadillac and get stranded in small town America. Along the way, the queens teach us valuable lessons about taking an interest in our elders, community involvement and even manage to end domestic violence! What it lacks in originality it makes up for in a sort of vérité believability: after a while you see the drag queens as the townsfolk do, as really built women. It starred Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as three of the best named queens around: Miss Vida Boheme, Noxeema Jackson, and Chi-Chi Rodriguez with cameos by drag legends Miss Coco Peru, Floatilla DeBarge and RuPaul herself.
Wigstock- The Movie
A concert documentary and Who’s-Who of 90s drag, including The Lady Bunny, Lypsinka, RuPaul, Jackie Beat, the late Alexis Arquette, and the staggeringly strange genius of the late Leigh Bowery. Watch in stunned amazement as Bowery “gives birth” on stage. Your senses will never be the same.
Yes, I know: Julie Andrews isn’t technically a drag queen. That said, Victor/Victoria is a film utterly about the show business of 1930s Paris where drag was already a culture blooming with beading and feathers. Andrews plays the woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman and manages to completely shatter your associations with her as Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp the minute you see her doing a really good impression of a gay man. The film includes beautiful period recreations of the costumes and performances of the golden age of European drag.
La Cage aux Folles-1978
This was the orginal Birdcage. And while Nathan Lane was very funny in it, I do prefer the original. Two gay men living in St. Tropez have their lives turned upside down when the son of one of the men announces he is getting married. They try to conceal their lifestyle and their ownership of the drag club downstairs when the fiancée and her parents come for dinner.
Some Like it Hot
Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dress like women to escape the mob. Then they meet Marilyn Monroe. Thanks to heterosexual penises, it gets complicated. When two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in. A classic.
A time capsule of the late 1970s, this Canadian comedy follows a drag queen/hairdresser and his mentally ill female roommate as they lean on each other for support. The trailer promises “a world you’ve never seen” and makes good on that by not showing you anything of the film. It also starred the incredibly talented drag performer Craig Russell.
An ultraconservative police officer played by Robert DiNero, suffers a debilitating stroke and is assigned to a rehabilitative program that includes singing lessons, with the drag queen next door, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The movie was cute as Di Nero's character comes to terms with his budding relationship with a drag queen, someone he wouldn't normally mix with. But I enjoyed their chemistry together.
Paris is Burning
Gurl.....whoever thinks Madonna Invented Voguing,you are wrong.Please see Paris is Burning for your gay history lesson. I am of course, speaking to myself circa age 18 when this dragumentary blew my white gay head off my shoulders and introduced me to the uptown world of “walking,” representing your house and the golden age of the uptown balls. It's where I learned to walk and cut runways!!! You meet queenster's Pepper LaBeija, Angie Xtravaganza, and Willi Ninja and see the lives and pageants unfold like the fishtail on a Balmain gown.
A spoiled schoolgirl runs away from home, gets pregnant while hitch-hiking, and ends up as a fashion model for a pair of beauticians who like to photograph women committing crimes. But we'd be remised if we didn't think the list should included most of Divine's movies, as they are all odd, but yet campy and entertaining and can be down right lewd, which you may be aware I do enjoy from time to time.
I only hope one day the story of Barbette will be turned into a film. What a colorful life she had and the people she knew. Would make for a great film I think.
Picking up where we left off was the beginning of the early 1900's .It was a mainstream lark for a straight man to put on a dress and “play act” as a woman. It was not always associated with "sexual deviancy."
Julian Eltinge was even so popular, and gaining more notice... that he launched his own magazine full of wardrobe and makeup advice for biological women. And his performances were being sold out.
Florin, pictured here, was another well renowned “female impersonator” in Paris, where there was also a flourishing drag scene.
1916: Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald performed in drag during a college performance of a musical he co-wrote.
1920: Drag becomes more closely aligned with the LGBT community with the advent of “drag balls,” which were enormous LGBT parties where most men dressed in drag.
As the 1920s progressed, the drag balls gained more and more cultural attention, eventually starting a period called the “Pansy Craze.” New York, Berlin, Paris, and London embraced the Pansy Craze and performers like Rae Bourbon (pictured below).
This period lasted from the 1920s through the end of prohibition.
Noted drag queen Harry S. Franklyn was another popular performer during the Pansy Craze of the 1920s.
Vander Clyde, or “Barbette,” was a huge vaudevillian sensation. She traveled around the States and Europe with her infamous aerial act, which featured death-defying trapeze stunts in full drag. At the end of her act she would remove her wig and strike a masculine pose. I have read her story in Barbette...what an entertaining read.
Mainstream society was still enjoying comedic drag queens such as Frances and Lonas though balls were emphasizing more glamour and lifestyle.
By the time the 1930's hit, Female impersonators, such as Billy Richards, had to keep up their styles and trends as much as any other woman. It could be an expensive career.
Drag's place in society continued to evolve as the '30s turned into the '40s. This infamous photo of a drag queen being arrested shows how the mere act of cross-dressing could still be a punishable offense.
Though the perceived threat of homosexuals was becoming more and more taboo in society, female impersonators still had a place in entertainment.
During a time when gay people were viewed as abhorrent subversives and a threat to society, two gay lovers, Danny Brown and Doc Benner, created and produced America’s first racially inclusive traveling revue of female impersonators. It was staffed almost entirely by gay men and one gay woman and was known as the fabulous Jewel Box Revue. In many ways it was America’s first gay community.
1940s: Drag balls went further and further underground to avoid police harassment. The days of the “Pansy Craze” were no more. By 1941 however, as long as the cross-dressing was done for the purpose of entertainment, the public could handle men in dresses.