Female impersonators have long been popular on the English stage. Would it surprise you to know that in Shakespeare´s time, female parts were actually played by young men? Today we have their more flamboyant descendants in the form of drag queens. I love them! They are beautiful, entertaining and full of character. Here are some of the most famous drag queens and female impersonators.
Divine is without a doubt the most wonderful female impersonator ever. She appeared in many of John Waters´ less mainstream movies (not for the fainthearted), and also had success as a club singer. Sure, Divine was not the most glamorous figure, but if you look at her and just see a fat guy dressed up, then you are completely missing the point of what she was about. Listen to the above song and you might just get it. Much missed.
You just have to love a six-foot drag queen with attitude! RuPaul shows us what glamour is all about. You may be familiar with her through the show ´RuPaul´s Drag Race´, which is full of tantrums, false eyelashes and enough sequins to sink the United States. She´s probably the most famous drag queen, and always looks simply stunning.
3. Dame Edna Everage
Female impersonators sometimes create a character for comic effect. The marvellous Dame Edna initially began life as a dowdy Australian housewife, but morphed into the unstoppable Dame. Known for her extraordinary glasses, lilac hair and catchphrase ´Hello Possums!´, Dame Edna is now officially retired, but legends never die …
4. Danny La Rue
The late Danny La Rue is probably not well known outside the UK, but is one of the old-school female impersonators. Arguably he helped popularise female impersonation and make it mainstream, with countless appearances on TV in the 60s and 70s.
5. Florence & Emily
TV has definitely seen its fair share of female impersonators, and in comedy Little Britain the comedians include among their characters Florence and Emily, who try to pass themselves off as women. Unfortunately they are the world´s least convincing transvestites! Watch and you´ll soon see why …
6. Lily Savage
Following in the footsteps of her illustrious predecessors came Lily Savage, the acid-tongued creation of comedian and presenter Paul o´Grady. Sadly, he´s now retired Lily, who truly seemed to have a life of her own, and took no prisoners. Bring back Lily!
7. The Girls in ´Priscilla, Queen of the Desert´
There are plenty of famous drag queens to be found in cinema. If you have not seen ´Priscilla´ then it´s time you did. It´s a very entertaining film about two drag queens and a transsexual performing shows in Australia, with wonderful performances. Now a VERY exuberant musical!
8. Lola in ´Kinky Boots´
If you think that the British film industry now consists of nothing more than low-budget gangster films, then search out this witty and warm film. One of the main characters, Lola, is a drag queen, and it truly is a wonderful performance. Entertaining from start to finish.
I love drag queens for the way they celebrate the feminine, their exuberant characters and their wonderful outfits. Wouldn´t we all like a bit of that confidence! Female impersonators have always been a part of stage and screen, and there are countless more drag queens performing in clubs everywhere. Can you think of any other famous drag queens?
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