Monday, January 22, 2018

THE BEAUTIFUL IMPRESSIONIST

In the stratosphere of nightclub performers, Jimmy James is in a class of his own.It's safe to say Jimmy  boasts one of the more colorful careers ever launched in San Antonio.

Born James Jude Johnson in Laredo in an undisclosed year, he started impersonating Marilyn Monroe on a whim in the early 1980s and perfected the act flawlessly enough to land in an Atlantic City revue that led to talk show appearances on Donahue to Geraldo, performances at high-profile events, and national advertising campaigns including L.A. Eyeworks and Kenar. Although possibly known better by younger audiences for his original club hit "Fashionista," James is a wildly talented vocal impressionist who shifts effortlessly between such iconic voices as Cher, Tina Turner, Billie Holiday, Elvis, Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Eartha Kitt, Bette Davis and many others. From his iconic “Marilyn years” where his eye popping impersonation of Marilyn Monroe rivaled the diva herself, Jimmy James has had a very interesting career....and has been in the entertainment world for 34 years.  When I first saw Jimmy he was most famous for his Marilyn though.  Jimmy has come to the Raven several times and I had the pleasure of talking to him the several times when he's been here. He has long  retired Marilyn back ‘97 though.
Now his shows are kind of like himself. While Jimmy  still paints like a hooker, he's doesn't really do drag the drag itself anymore.  He has since, in his words,"took the drag out per se, because for a while people were lip-synching and stuff. I’m androgynous.In drag I am only 5’5”,and in drag people think I’m a real woman,singing female voices. So that kind of ruined everything.I’m a guy doing women’s voices,so I didn’t want people to get involved or confused in all that. It’s just more fun for me to be myself. It’s self deprecating. The drag thing is so weird to me, because it just comes off like a woman, and I don’t know how to reconcile with that. I’ve been androgynous my whole life. People didn’t know if I was a boy or a girl. It’s how I was born." And to tell you the truth...he doesn't need the full drag....he is to be heard to be believed in these two amazing clips. He never fails to gives me chills when he's is in town. You won't believe these clips.
Now that's talent.

MONDAY MOMENTS

I only have one thing to say.......
See, the problem with this hibernating in the winter thing, is you don't want to leave the house come Monday, once your all warm and cozy in your abode. And it seems to go all to quick. I had another weekend to myself....relaxed, cooked. For the first time I made homemade pork sausage gravy and biscuits. It turned out delish...and didn't stand a chance. I also did much movie watching....in which I saw one of my all time favorites, Tea with Mussolini. Such a great movie filled with talent. Now it looks like back to the old grind. But I bet these brave souls will make Monday feel better.

Although this fellow looks like me...he ain't sure of this Monday thing either....

And how about this. A Instagram friend of mine posted this over the weekend. Their Frenchie's had puppies! Does this melt your heart or what?!?!?!

Buster Bolfig Borghese has approved this post and wishes all a Happy Monday!

Cats Included.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

FINALLY...MY CORK SCREW


JEWEL BOX OF GLAMOUR

It wouldn't be a Drag History Month without thinking about the great divas and the touring troupe, The Jewel Box Revue. The Jewel Box Revue was a famous drag/female impersonator touring company that began in 1939 and ran well into the late 1960s. Sort of a all drag Lawrence Welk if you will. Danny Brown and Doc Benner were lovers and longtime producers of the revue, and were said to be pretty tough customers who never backed down from a fight and were known to run a very tight ship. They were hard on their employees but could be brutal to anyone who messed with “their girls.”
Creating America’s first gay community was not what Danny and Doc initially had in mind when they created the revue. They felt that Vaudeville had sidelined female impersonation acts into little more than burlesque shows, and both were passionate about reviving drag as an art form. Danny and Doc also intentionally catered the show to a heterosexual audience and tried their best to be viewed as legitimate entertainment by locals and authorities, to stay clear of any legal charges of sexual deviance. But behind the protective spin of publicity, it cannot be denied that the revue fostered one of the first gay-positive communities in America, if not the first. It was a place where “gayness” was accepted before the concept of gay-identity had even been fully conceived. Many of the performers viewed Danny and Doc not only as his bosses but as no-nonsense parental figures. Danny and Doc took great efforts to protect their girls and the other members of the revue from the often brutal homophobic realities of life in the pre-Stonewall era.
The show became incredibly popular throughout the United States. Stars of the revue such as Mr. Lynne Carter, whose talent and skill as a dancer was legendary, became quite famous and included the Rat Packer and toe-tapper Sammy Davis Jr. as a fan. The drag revue was most often comprised of “25 Men & One Girl.” The one girl was none other than Miss Storme DeLaviere who served as the sole male impersonator for the revue. Storme would garner iconic status within the LGBT community year later in 1969 for being one of the first people to fight back against police officers during the raid on the Stonewall Inn. Despite government crackdowns against gay performers and female impersonators, the revue successfully toured America and Canada anyway, for nearly 30 years. At the height of its popularity the revue headlined at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem to rave reviews.

I think it's interesting though that some of the drag queens back in the day used male names instead of the campy names we now have today. It had something to do with letting the audience know they were in fact men. Some of the notable divas performing there.
LaVern Cummings was a long-time performer in the traveling troupe of The Jewel Box. Cumming's career seems to have spanned the post-war period into the sixties if you judge by her clothing and hair.

Gita Gilmore was one of the original members of the revue and often impersonated Mae West. Miss West even invited Gita to a show once and was asked backstage to meet the bombshell herself.

Ricky Renee went on to become one of the most well known Jewel Box dancers and can still be seen performing in Europe where she now resides.


Ricki Raymonde had a most amazing operatic voice and could sing a high C, then immediately drop to a deep baritone which would gasp audiences.


The talented Barry Scott, who often left the audience in gasp with his beauty, coiffures, fashion and singing talents.

Jane Korday was with the Jewel Box longer than any other member and was known as the boy with the million dollar legs and was also the revue's hair dresser. Some of the other notables were Don Marshall who was one of the few black men performing in drag at the time, Mr Titanic who was every one's favorite blond bombshells, and Chunga Ochoa who was the featured dancer and choreographer for the review.


In the end Danny Brown and Doc Benner were successful and saw their dreams of reviving female impersonation as an art form come to fruition. The Jewel Box Revue became very successful and toured throughout the country for over three decades, even headlining at famed venues like the Apollo in New York City. But their contributions resonate far beyond their impacts on the field of female impersonation. In a very real sense Danny and Doc are the true godfathers of the modern gay community. The show was billed as “25 Men and 1 Woman,” but hundreds of gay entertainers and female impersonator would come to work with the revue over the years, and their influence on the burgeoning gay rights movement still resonates to this very day, one particular performer somewhat more so than others. The African-American lesbian drag king Storme Delarvarie was the “1 Woman” of the Jewel Box Revue.
She spent decades living, working and traveling with Danny and Doc’s tough but protective community of touring entertainers. Those experiences and life lessons would prove invaluable in Storme’s later life, and her actions continue to inspire generations of gay people. Storme Delarvarie is credited as being one of the first people to bravely fight back against the police as they raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City on the night of June 27, 1969. Her courage helped to spark a riot that begat the modern gay rights movement. She sadly has since passed back in 2014, as many of the performers have. I do get the feeling though,somewhere out there in the cosmos, Danny Brown and Doc Benner couldn’t be prouder.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

LATE NIGHT......SHAKE IT GIRL!

Having a quite night and need some exciting ditty to wake you up? Well Divine is here for drag history month to Shake It Up!!!!!

THE GENE COMPTONS RIOT

Historian Susan Stryker made the amazing discovery the way that many of her peers do: by pure accident. She wasn’t looking for it, but she found evidence of a forgotten chapter in the history of LGBT community in America.In 1995, Stryker a transgendered historian, and co-author Jim Van Buskirk were working on Gay by the Bay, their soon-to-be published, best seller capsule history of the San Francisco LGBT movement, when they came across an interesting item in the program for the 1972 Gay Pride march.The article described an August 1966 riot at Gene Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin, a poor and working-class area of the city where many transgenders and drag queens lived, and still do. The incident started after a rowdy queen refused to leave the popular hangout and management called the police.
The account of the riot from the Pride program reads like a description of a lot of the social unrest of the 1960s: “Gays began breaking out every window in the place, and as they ran outside to escape the breaking glass, the police tried to grab them and throw them into the paddy wagon, but they found this no easy task for gays began hitting them “below the belt” and drag-queens smashing them in the face with their extremely heavy purses. A police car had every window broken, a newspaper shack outside the cafeteria was burned to the ground.” Though many positive changes occurred after the riot, including a better relationship with the local police district and the establishment of social services for the trans community, the incident didn’t give birth to the kind of national mass movement that followed a similar night of rioting in New York’s Greenwich Village after cops raided the Stonewall bar.
Nearly three years after Compton’s, the Stonewall riots were the spark that gave birth to the modern gay liberation struggle. Literally, overnight, thousands of students and others, many from the antiwar and other radical movements, came pouring out of their closets to form the in-your-face organizations that eventually replaced the existing “homophile” groups. “Compton’s happened too early,” says Stryker. “In 1966, things were just starting to bust out all over: The Black Panthers, the anti-war movement, the kids using psychedelics. Three years later, a lot more gay people were waiting for their own moment. Stonewall happened. A lot more people were primed to take advantage of it.”
Word spread about the rebellion in New York. Eventually, the Compton story was forgotten. Inspired by what she read, Stryker went on to make a documentary about the incident at Compton’s.
Co-produced with Victor Silverman and Jack Walsh, it’s appropriately entitled Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria. It aired on PBS stations nationally in June 2006. An official San Francisco city plaque was installed in the sidewalk near the site of the riot that same summer.
I'll say one thing...drag queens are not to be trifled with.

Friday, January 19, 2018

IN THREE WORDS

         In this weekly feature, I'll share a weekly guest with you, and you tell me in only three words what come to mind.

      In three words......
Divine

Thursday, January 18, 2018

DRAG HISTORY-DANNY LaRUE


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!
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