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Pride: Female Impersonators on the Avenue
June 18, 2023
Join us this week for a special Pride month edition of Echoes of Indiana Avenue. We’ll be looking back at the history of drag queens, and trans performers on the Avenue. They were billed as female impersonators, and nearly every Avenue club featured these artists.
We’ll share rare recordings by entertainers affiliated with Valda Gray’s performance ensemble, including Petite Swanson, Billie McAllister, Nina Mae McKinney, and Jean LaRue. Valda Gray was perhaps the most influential figure to emerge from the drag culture of Indiana Avenue. After leaving Indianapolis, Valda attracted national attention for her work at Chicago’s Cabin Inn and is credited as a pioneer of drag shows in Chicago.
We’ll also hear memories from Indianapolis artists who worked alongside female impersonators and attended performances at Avenue drag clubs like the Famous Door.