Forgotten female impersonator Ray Bourbon
August 29, 2005 12:18 AM   Subscribe

Don't Call Me Madam: The sad and crazy life of Ray Bourbon A pioneering drag comedian, friend of Mae West and an early independent recording artist, Ray was a deliberately enigmatic pop cult figure who may or may not have had a sex change operation in 1956. He was a frequent target of police raids and died in prison as a convicted accomplice to murder. "Ray’s comedy was, at once, highbrow and lowbrow, overtly Gay and covertly subversive. Despite his influence on Gays, he remained vague about his own sexuality."
posted by mediareport (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A fascinating story. Thanks for the post, mediareport.
posted by jack_mo at 3:30 AM on August 29, 2005

There's also an MP3 of "The Chropractor's Wife (double-entendre party record)" at the Internet Archive.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:25 AM on August 29, 2005

Bourbon created and starred in a drag revue called "Boys Will Be Girls."

Great title. Thanks for the post. I'd never heard of Bourbon.
posted by OmieWise at 11:26 AM on August 29, 2005

Thanks for that mp3, Slack-a-gogo; it's a hoot. For what it's worth, the Realaudio files at the main Bourbon site are what finally got me to download and install Real Alternative. "Bourbon to the Cleaners" is a fun riff on censorship with catty pokes at Sophie Tucker, et al. And you have got to listen to "The Wedding," Ray's rambling story of a police raid on a gay church wedding in the 1920s. It's filled with rapid-fire asides, shrieking laughs, belching and more, a real period piece from one seriously wacked-out queen.
posted by mediareport at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2005

This is excellent, THANKS
posted by Peter H at 4:11 PM on August 29, 2005

Given the glamour, the mugshot is defeated and very saddening, too. Thanks again.
posted by Peter H at 4:14 PM on August 29, 2005

Nice find! I'd not heard of him, either. What a fascinating character, innovative and gutsy. Shitty way to go, though.
posted by codeofconduct at 10:17 PM on August 29, 2005

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