Doris Fish was the stage name for Sydney-born and Sydney and San Francisco-based drag queen, artist, actor and writer Philip Mills. As Doris Fish, Mills wrote and starred in the cult movie classic Vegas in Space.
Art and performance
Mills began performing as Doris Fish in Sydney in 1972, as one of the three core performers of the political drag group Sylvia and the Synthetics, along with Miss Abood (Danny Abood, Daniel Archer) and Jacqueline Hyde. In 1975 Mills visited San Francisco for the first time on holidays before moving there permanently the following year. Doris regularly returned to Sydney, Australia in the late 1970s, comparing shows for Cabaret Conspiracy performing in the Sydney Gay Theatre Group's production of Noel Greig's As Time Goes By, or performing at venues such as Garibaldi's along with the Doreen's. During 1978–1979 Mills as Doris was also the American West-Coast Correspondent for Campaign, a national gay and lesbian newspaper in Australia. With the development of the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras Workshop in 1983, Mills would return annually to volunteer in the Workshop building community floats and creating costumes for Doris' individual and group floats. Doris also continued to host events, including the first Mardi Gras Awards at Kinselas in 1987.
In 1976 at an audition for the rock group The Tubes, he met fellow drag queen Tippi, and they became roommates. In 1977 San Francisco gay leaders urged no drag on Gay Freedom Day. Doris and many other drags turned out in force. Also in 1977, Doris was cast in the James Moss directed feature-length film Magazine movie, a magazine format film about San Francisco, playing herself, "a fake woman from Australia who has won the heart of San Francisco". At a come-as-your-favorite-Fellini-character party in 1979. Mills met Miss X who wasn't yet serious about doing drag, but by the end of the year Doris Fish, Tippi and Miss X were performing as Sluts-A-Go-Go. Contrary to popular belief, Sluts-A-Go-Go is not a group featuring Anne Marie, Duchess Deedles and myself.
Throughout the 1980s Doris Fish was one of the more prominent drag queens in San Francisco. On stage, Doris Fish performed for over 10 years in San Francisco with Miss X and Tippi as Sluts A-Go-Go. Sluts A-Go-Go performed in venues like Club 181 with shows such as Marc Huestis' Naked Brunch, Nightclub of the Living Dead, along with other performers such as Sandelle Hebert and Tommy Pace. In 1986, Doris and Tippi did a weekly cable news show about the gay community, although some viewers complained that Doris was a negative stereotype. As a visual artist, Mills painted hyper-realistic canvases depicting of drag queens, although as he once said, "If I could, I would paint my eyeballs."
Mills' major legacy to date is the cult camp classic film Vegas in Space, which he co-wrote and starred in with Phillip Ford, not to mention the endless hours of charity work and monies raised for various foundations.
Poor Doris is no longer with us... she died from complications from AIDS in San Francisco in 1991.The last performance by the great drag performer Doris Fish- in a benefit performance at SF Victoria Theatre -shortly before she died.