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Fooling the Heteros…
Vintage Drag Queens

I do love a good drag show, although I think the current trend towards exaggerated makeup, hair and clothing takes away from the simple beauty of a man dressed as a woman. Back in the day, the more realistic your drag costume, the better; acts like Bert Savoy and The Rocky Twins made their fame through their very realistic drag, and part of their appeal was their ability to fool the men in the crowd. They were less drag and more trans. I stumbled on some photos (which may or may not be photoshopped) of Victorian men in drag, and that led me to Queer Music Heritage, a website dedicated to female impersonators from the past. In its pages I found many gorgeous drag queens spanning the 20th century. Whatever we say about the kids today, our great-grandparents and grandparents were also up to something!

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Laverne Cummings

Barbette

Laverne Cummings

Julian Eltinge

Julian Eltinge

Bert Savoy

Bert Savoy

Adrian Ames

Adrian Ames

Chris Ames

Chris Ames

Barbette

Barbette

Barbette

Barbette

Bothwell Browne

Bothwell Browne

Bothwell Browne

Bothwell Browne

Gene La Marr

Gene La Marr

Chris Ames

Chris Ames

cjb22

Bobby DeCastro

Bobby DeCastro

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Frank Doran

Frank Doran

Frank Doran

Frank Doran

Frank Doran

Frank Doran

doran2

Francis Russell

Francis Russell

fm2

fm8b-renault

fm11

fm15

fm17

fm24

fm35c

fm44

fm46

fm57

fm88

fm93

Nicki Gallucci

Nicki Gallucci

Gita Gilmore

Gita Gilmore

Walter Hart

Walter Hart

The Rocky Twins

The Rocky Twins

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Image14

Image15

images

Bobbie Janson

Bobbie Janson

Francis Renault

Francis Renault

Freddy Renault

Freddy Renault

Freddy Renault

Freddy Renault

Francis Renault

Francis Renault

Francis Renault

Francis Renault

Francis Renault

Francis Renault

Walter Hart

Walter Hart

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The Rocky Twins

The Rocky Twins

The Rocky Twins

The Rocky Twins

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vintage-drag-queen-3

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Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Pat

    July 13, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    there is one wrong picture… a woman with PCOS and has a beard. She is no transvestite but what we refer to as “bearded lady”…

  2. MS

    August 1, 2014 at 11:20 am

    This is a beautiful collection of photos. I think you should consider removing “Fooling the Heteros” from the title as it reinforces the myth of Trans Deception.
    here’s some more info about that if you are curious.
    http://transgriot.blogspot.ca/2007/11/theres-something-about-deception.html

    • George Clarke

      August 23, 2014 at 2:34 am

      good post.

  3. Tootie Keanuenue Nefertootie

    August 1, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Thank you Megan for presenting these pictures (varied as they are from the clearly promotional, to the documentary, to the artistic. Oh for a world of less megapixels we would be so grateful!) and your viewpoint that we’ve lost something in the art of drag, that of fooling men. Nay nay my little kitty, Drag comes in 31 flavors and there is a face and padded body for everytaste, including the men who dispence disbelief like a magicians audience that delights in being fooled. You mention the Rocky Twins, and counter with kara and Tara Dion, You mention Bert Savoy and I see you Tony Smithey. Drag is evidence of evolution and I know that will make fundamentalist christians heads spin, but time has changed the face of “boys who would be girls” and yet its all stayed the same. Perhaps today’s over painted beauties are a expression of our oversaturated culture, their own artistic expression with their person as a canvas, or a commentary of “tada! Take me as I am”. Viva la drag, Its a big tent with 3 rings and a wealth of varied, hair’d, and creative ringmasters. Discount any of us at your own peril.

  4. Brian Cholewinski

    July 10, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Jana Hill

  5. Luna Tique

    July 10, 2014 at 10:51 am

    No Matt, but I’m all over it now. Love!!

  6. Matt Centers

    July 10, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Luna Tique i sure hope you’ve seen this!

  7. Louie Mulhern

    July 10, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Daisy Shayler-Webb

  8. Krissy Pederson

    July 10, 2014 at 6:35 am

    So great. Love me some drag queens.

  9. Somnambuliformic Necrocannibaloid

    July 10, 2014 at 4:03 am

    You have an error in the word “Queers”.

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