1st Edition

From Drags to Riches
The Untold Story of Charles Pierce

ISBN 9781560233862
Published July 23, 2002 by Routledge
280 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Learn how Charles Pierce achieved stardom and became one of the most famous female impersonators of all time!

Charles Pierce (1926--1999) was an internationally known and highly successful female impersonator, known for his vivid portrayals of Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, and Mae West. This book offers a candid look at a career that spanned over fifty years--from his humble start at the Pasadena Playhouse, to his sold-out shows in San Francisco.

From Drags to Riches provides a rich and colorful history of Charles Pierce. In this insightful and moving volume, Pierce’s friend John Wallraff offers valuable insights about the little-known man behind the makeup and captures the essence of what drag stardom is really like.

This informative, imaginative, and sexually provocative book contains:

  • stories of how famous Hollywood icons shaped Charles Pierce’s life and his act
  • Pierce’s history, from his humble beginnings at the Pasadena Playhouse to his sold-out shows in San Francisco and beyond
  • a look at Pierce’s private life
  • an examination of the price of fame--how successes and failures shape any performer

    Using the words of Charles Pierce himself, adding a dash of humor, mixing in fascinating insights, and sprinkling in juicy stories of love, lust, and sex, this book is a melting pot of information about a well-loved but sometimes misunderstood man.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • 1. “A Wonderful Idea”
  • 2. A Movie Star on Wheels
  • 3. Pasadena Playhouse—At Last!
  • 4. Extracurricular Lessons in Sex
  • 5. “Make Me a Star!”
  • 6. Stars in My Eyes
  • 7. Summer Stock and Shangri-La for Awhile
  • 8. The Rent Party
  • 9. Charles Pierce, the Persistent Houseguest
  • 10. A Mahvelous Pahty
  • 11. A Naked Moon Dance and the Little Retreat Where Alcoholics Meet
  • 12. The Big Break and Sex on the Rocks
  • 13. “Everybody Came to the Gilded Cage”
  • 14. “Through These Portals . . .:”
  • 15. Rio Dante, the Man Who Would Be Dracula
  • 16. “The Beverly Hill Nellies” and How They Grew
  • 17. In Love with a “Living Doll”
  • 18. In Bed with “Bette Davis”
  • 19. Chicken-in-the-Nude, Cock Tales, and Other Assorted Orgies
  • 20. Chez Sabu and La Ballet de Marijuana
  • 21. “Mother Didn’t Tell Me There’d Be Nights Like These!”
  • 22. Death in the Dressing Room
  • 23. Gold Street and Touched by an Angel—Of Death!
  • 24. “No, I’m Not the Girl in the Fishbowl at Bimbo’s”
  • 25. The City Cabaret and Disco—The Times They Were A-Changin’
  • 26. The Backlot—And the Real Miss Bette Davis
  • 27. An Evening at “Dottie’s Place”
  • 28. Charles Pierce Takes New York—And New York Loves It!
  • 29. “The Tush Room at the Hotel Yuck”
  • 30. The Venetian Room—“Top o’ the World, Ma!”
  • 31. Wild at The Ballroom—Farewell to New York City
  • 32. Is There Life After Drag?
  • 33. Charles Pierce: Male Actress
  • 34. Letters from the End of the Rainbow
  • 35. Farewell, Old Friend: The Last Charles Pierce Show
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Index

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John Wallraff