Saturday, January 27, 2018

LATE NIGHT....DRAG LEGEND CHARLES PIERCE

One of my favorite pioneers in the world of drag and impersonation was Charles Pierce, who you may recognize.
The blazing career of the self-proclaimed “male actress” Charles Pierce was launched in the clubs of San Francisco around the time the struggle for gay rights was kicked into full gear with the Stonewall riots on the opposite coast. With his dead-on satirical send-ups of screen immortals such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Tallulah Bankhead, Pierce quickly earned a devoted fan following and it was common to see celebrities of the day ranging from Lucille Ball to Anthony Hopkins in his audience.

One celebrity admirer, Bea Arthur, became a very close friend and paid tribute to him in her one-woman show. Before his death in 1999, Pierce had also racked up an impressive acting resume with guest spots on popular TV series Laverne & Shirley and Designing Women and in Harvey Fierstein’s seminal queer film Torch Song Trilogy. The late performer had a forty-plus year career. He pioneered the art of female impersonation. Careers like RuPaul,Charles Busch and Lypsinka owe a lot to Charles and he has continued influence on drag performers everywhere. One of my favorite clips of Charles was of Mae West.

12 comments:

  1. If you ever were lucky enough to catch Charles Pierce's act in a club you know the accuracy of his impersonations was not important or about looking like, nor quite sounding like anyone, but their essence. William and I had the privilege to see him on four occasions and he was excellent every time. It was the fun, the jokes, and the laughs that were important. Sometimes Pierce would tell an old one and the audience would still laugh, and he'd look at us with his big smile and say something like "I can't believe you laughed at that ancient gag." But he knew, it was the way he told it.

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  2. Charles was one of my idols and role models. Since drag is getting mainstream more or less drag queens never “do” famous women anymore. I guess maybe because today’s stars don’t stand out? Loved the clip!!!!

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  3. I remember seeing Charles everywhere it seemed in the 80's early 90's. He was always a bright surprise when he showed up. I remember his Designing Women spot where the girls were on a cruise and he play the waiter dressed as Joan Collins, and says to them, "Was the Bette Davis? This boat is only big enough for one bitch."

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  4. Did she just suggest that a Marine was a top?
    Oh wait the other was a Sailor, in that case if the Marine wanted some he’d have to top.

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  5. Another amazing and talented person!

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  6. I have a couple VHS tapes of his shows.

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    1. VHS? What the hell is that? Is that like 8 tracks?

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  7. I adored Charles. Great clip. My favorite-" Sex is like Bridge, if you don't have a good partner, you better have a good hand.But it's the ultimate rejection when that hand goes to sleep"!!!!!!!!! Priceless.

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  8. I first saw him on an episode of Starsky and Hutch. He was wonderful, and I can just imagine how he was on stage live! He could sashay from Bette Davis to Carol Channing in the blink of an eye. I got this just from that one episode! There seemed to be such a sweetness about him. Loved, loved his big blue eyes.

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  9. What a fantastic and funny clip! Thank you for sharing this incredibly entertaining find! I do remember his performance from Designing Women! That was hilarious!

    Thank goodness for YouTube, becoming a sort of an essential archive to the awesome history that otherwise would've been lost by the mainstream. Thanks for sharing this important information and fabulous people with us.

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  10. He was brilliant!!! And what a great clip. Thanks for starting my Monday off right!

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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