Casual Babe Clothes Tips

One of the World’s Oldest Drag Queens Shares Memories of Life in Toronto in the 1950s

On Tuesday nights, if you’re playing Ghetto Glam Bingo at Pegasus Bar on Toronto’s Church Street, you’re likely to catch the floral scent of Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds fragrance before you spot the Bette Davis-esque blonde wig that belongs to one of the bar’s most iconic visitors: Russell Alldread.

At 88, Alldread—better known by his drag persona Michelle DuBarry—is Canada’s oldest drag queen. He even held the title of World’s Oldest Performing Drag Queen for a brief period (awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2015) but has since been dethroned by Walter “Darcelle XV” Cole in Oregon, who’s one year older. “He wasn’t that terrific looking actually,” Russell counters with a chuckle, when I sit down with him earlier this month.

Dressed in cargo shorts and a colourful printed shirt, Russell passes as a sweet old gentleman until you notice a few tell-tale signs courtesy of his other persona. One being the pearly white dental plates and the other, his long, perfectly manicured talons. “They’re for scratching backs —and balls.”

Born in 1931 in Bowmanville, Ontario, Russell moved to Toronto’s Gay Village at the age of twenty-one and never left (aside from a brief stint when he left and married a woman). “We had a church wedding in my home in Bowmanville, with my mother and her mother in the front row, but that was short lived.”

Read on for our Q&A (and bonus video interview!) with Russell.

What was it like growing up in Ontario in the ’40s? Did you know you were gay?

Oh no, gay wasn’t a word. No such thing. You were a faggot or a queer or a sissy. In high school another guy and I decided to dress up like two French dancers at the high school masquerade. We didn’t think it was drag, we were dressing up in a costume. And we went to the dance and this fifth form student asked me to dance. And his brother who was in my form went up to him and said, “That’s a guy, you know.” And he disappeared.

I used to get sunbathing magazines and look for nude people. But of course, everything was blocked out then. I would draw male and female figures, cut them out and make clothes for them. I didn’t really think about it then.

And you moved to Toronto in your twenties?

Yes. I came to the village and I found a place to live in a brick building next to what is now the Garage. And I got a job at Canadian Fairbanks-Morse in the mailroom. At twenty-one I was kind of a cute kid, anyways that’s what they told me. And there was an older man in the mailroom who was gay. I mean, gay wasn’t the word then, he was queer, and he had a little apartment full of music and books and everything and so I dropped by and he didn’t come on to me at all. But he had a young chap visiting him from Ottawa, a gorgeous young boy. And so I ended up in a hotel room in the pub and really all over town with the young boy. Well he was the same age as I was, I guess. And anyway, that was quite a day. We had a bath in the bathtub and then we sat naked in a big chair and it was a lovely night.

When did drag come on the scene in Toronto?

Well in the ’50s Sarah Dunlop, a lesbian, had a private little place for three men that were doing shows in suit and tie with a rose in the lapel. She had to have someone watching the door to make sure the people that came in were people that she knew because it was against the law in the ’50s. So, I used to watch these three guys doing their number. And Murray Burbage, a very talented young man who was sewing clothes for young girls’ skate skating groups, etcetera, decided to put them in women’s clothing. That was the beginning of men dressing up.

What about Michelle, when did she come on to the scene?

The name Michelle DuBarry came much later but I used to get dressed up and go out long before. Drag was very different back then. We weren’t trying to be larger than life, we looked like women.

There was one night I got dressed up with my blonde hair and a little black dress and I went over and walked down Yonge Street and nobody knew anything. They didn’t know I was a man. I went into the downtown theatre and watched a movie. On my way out I tripped on the steps and fell down the stairs, and this guy at the bottom of the steps said to me, ‘Here’s your shoe lady.’ And I grabbed it and limped home.

I’m sure it wasn’t all easy though.

No, but I don’t usually think on that. I mean there was a Halloween night in the ’50s. Thousands of people were cramming the streets and yelling, “Look at the queers.’ And I’m going through in a lovely red dress and I had ink thrown at me, and I went home and changed, and came back out again. Nothing’s going to stop me from doing it. It was quite a night. Quite a wonderful Halloween night.

Do you have any advice for drag queens today?

Oh no. They’re doing what they want to do and looking how they want to look and my god, there’s so many of them that are looking utterly fantastic. They’re not looking for my advice. I’m someone they admire. They respect me. And that’s good. I cut the ribbon on World Pride a couple years ago. It’s nice to be respected.

Any secrets to your longevity?

No. I live one day at a time. I can’t live for tomorrow and thank God I can still put myself together.

Video Courtesy Bolt Content

The post One of the World’s Oldest Drag Queens Shares Memories of Life in Toronto in the 1950s appeared first on FASHION Magazine.

Casual Babe Clothes Tips

Sienna Miller Just Wore the Easy Summer Outfit That Is All Over Zara and M&S

Sienna Miller is promoting her upcoming TV series The Loudest Voice, and in New York yesterday for one of her interviews she wore the perfect throw-on summer look—a green trouser suit with a white T-shirt and cream pumps. Her grass-green single breasted trouser suit is by Gucci, as are her cream pumps with gold buckles on the toes. However this is an outfit which you will find up and down the high-street this summer.

Earlier in the year John Lewis and Partners’ wide-leg bold green trouser suit proved to be a hit with the fashion crowd, and sold out quickly, and has since been re-stocked in a couple of sizes. M&S and Zara are also going big on paint-box coloured trouser suits—and Marks has a mint green double-breasted style that is just as punchy as Sienna’s.

Sienna’s co-star Naomi Watts also wore an failsafe summer outfit to the interview, pairing a black Batsheva midi dress with pearl button details and exaggerated puffy sleeves with white mules and rose-coloured sunglasses. Keep scrolling to see these perfect summer looks, and shop the best green suits on the high street right now. 

On Sienna: Gucci Trouser Suit and Shoes. 

On Naomi Watts: Batsheva Dress.

Next up, see our guide to how to wear a trouser suit. 

Casual Babe Clothes Tips

My All-American Style Story: See How This Creative Wears H&M’s 4th Of July Collection

Despite the bandeau’s prevalence amongst off-duty celebrities and the tiny-sunglass-ed blogger set, it wasn’t either group that inspired beauty and lifestyle creator Leah Allyannah to make bra tops a style signature — it was actually a photo of her mother from the ’90s, taken shortly after she’d arrived in America from Guyana.

“My mom and I have similar styles, like how I dress now is how she used to dress when she was younger,” says the 21-year-old native New Yorker. “When I look at pictures, she’s wearing the high-waisted pants with crop tops, the knee-high socks, and chunky sneakers. I think since I have that style, she remembers that she dressed how she wanted when she came here, so she wants me to do the same.”

Fashion moves in a cyclical pattern — with the late 20th century hovering at the top of the wheel for seasons now — but regardless of trends, strong, uniquely American style does seem to run in the Allyannah family. Take Leah’s looks here, all from H&M’s celebratory 4th of July collection, which demonstrate the fearless dressing she attributes to her mom and dad becoming Americans in their late teens. As immigrants, they readily adopted the clothes of their new home as a form of assimilation; then, as parents, they handed down this openness, inspiring Leah to develop her own sense of sartorial freedom.

“Since they came here as young adults, they’re more lenient with my style, like wearing crop tops and accentuating my body. I feel like in my culture, I was one of the first to start dressing like this on YouTube and [online]. I was the first Guyanese girl just being myself and standing out, in a way. My parents encourage me to dress and look however I want.”

Designed by Elsa Jenna.

Her love of color, torso-hugging denim, space buns, and exposed midriffs might not seem all that shocking today, but growing up in a relatively conservative culture in which “you can be judged for how you dress, if you’re showing your stomach too much or just being a woman,” Allyannah says that she was frequently on the receiving end of stares. (There’s no lingering resentment, though — she chalks it up to “Guyanese people always [having] something to say. They’re not hating, they’re just giving their input.”) But as time passed, Allyannah says she found more confidence — and acceptance from her peers. “It was kind of uncomfortable, like, Dang, this is what I want to wear. But now, I’m just like whatever. It’s a new generation, and everybody wants to dress differently. Now, people aren’t as judgmental.”

In Allyannah’s career, too, she says she’s enjoyed a degree of independence. Her parents, both of whom are market data analysts, have embraced her work in the arts, a path that had been unavailable to them in Guyana. In fact, while her mom and dad passed down their own interests in acting and photography, any pressure to consider a more traditional path came from Allyannah herself.

“Some of my friends’ parents want them to be doctors or nurses or pharmacists. I’m just glad my parents came here and saw that you should just keep moving forward. In the back of my head, [though], it always made me feel less-than, because [my friends are] studying [medicine], and obviously their schooling is harder than mine. I just kept comparing myself to them. But then I thought about how much goes into being a creative. You just can’t compare.”

Designed by Elsa Jenna.

Leaving doubt — and memories of those critical stares — in the past, Allyannah says she’s proud to come from a culture that places togetherness at its center.

“We’re just so into family,” she says ahead of Independence Day, which she’ll spend “having a barbecue, blasting music, and just having fun with my loved ones.” “That’s really important to have. Guyanese people are so family-oriented, and they’re always looking for a reason to meet up. Parties are always big and wholesome. I love that I’m from a culture that loves one another.”

Family also factors largely into the future Allyannah imagines for herself, a version of the “American dream” that’s actually pretty old-fashioned: just her, her boyfriend (hopefully turned husband, she says), a house, and financial stability — a modest vision she says reflects the “take it easy” attitude of her generation versus the accomplishment-driven, “plan, plan, plan” mentality of her parents’.

“Sometimes I’m like, I wish I could spontaneously move, but I would be so jealous that the rest of my family’s together. My American dream is continuing what I have now but more open, and just…more. I’ve noticed that when my family’s okay, and when I’m with [them], I’m the most content.”

Designed by Elsa Jenna.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

A New Crop Of Online Boutiques Has Us Excited For Summer Dressing

Everything We Know About Amazon Prime Day

Cute Women's Beach Dresses, Because Normal Cover-Ups Are So 2000 & Late