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Darcelle XV dead: World's oldest working drag queen dies as community left heartbroken

The performer reportedly died at his Portland home in Oregon on Thursday, March 23 from natural causes. Darcelle XV received the title of the world's oldest drag queen in 2016 at the age of 85 and was still performing up until his death.


The drag scene trailblazer first opened the nightclub Darcelle XV Showplace in 1967 before inventing his own drag persona, Darcelle XV, two years later.

In 2020, the venue itself earned its own mark in history as it was added to the National Register of Historic Places to honour its 53rd anniversary.

Additionally, it became the first venue in Oregon to become nationally recognised for its role in LGBTQ+ history.

On Thursday, the venue released a heartbreaking statement following the news of Darcelle's death.

Posted on their Instagram alongside a shot of Darcelle mid-performance: "The family of Darcelle XV along with her cast and crew are heartbroken to announce that our beloved Darcelle (Walter W. Cole, Sr.) has died at age 92 from natural causes.

"We ask for privacy and patience as everyone processes and grieves in their own way and at their own pace.

"Details of a public memorial will be announced as soon as they are confirmed. All shows at Darcelle XV Showplace will go on as scheduled per Darcelle's wishes.

"Please join us and celebrate her legacy and memory, thank you in advance for your continued support." 


Tributes quickly began to pour in across social media as the community grieved the loss of a bonafide award-winning legend.

TheUnipiper wrote on Twitter: "Our city, nay, our country has lost an icon.

"I am humbled to have had the chance to get to know Darcelle's beautiful soul and quick wit firsthand and will forever treasure my time spent with her. May you forever be, Bold, Blonde, and Beautiful!"

Cecily.lambert added: "Darcelle will always be remembered as a trailblazer and an inspiration for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

"Rest in power, queen!"

StrumpetLily shared: "We just lost the greatest drag queen of all today, Darcelle XV, at age 92.

"No one can ever take her place, but we can use all the drag queens we can get right now."

The performer is survived by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as his former wife Jean.

In an interview with SFGN just last month, Darcelle shared: "I can honestly say, and I mean this from whatever part of the heart that handles this sort of thing, I would not change one day of my life.

"I'm happy and happiness will make you live a long time." 

reference:Daily Express:  Story by Samantha Leathers 

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