Drag Race stars honor Darcelle XV, the Guinness record holder for oldest working drag queen, after death at 92
- Darcelle XV died on Thursday of natural causes, her club announced
- She opened her club in 1967 after trying drag for the first time that year
- Drag Race stars Bosco, Kerri Colby and Mayhem Miller paid tribute online
Darcelle XV, who held a record for being the oldest working drag queen, has died at the age of 92.
The performer’s death on Thursday from natural causes was announced on Facebook by the club she ran in Portland, Oregon, that was named after her drag persona.
‘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,’ the statement read. ‘We ask for privacy and patience as everyone processes and grieves in their own way and at their own pace.’
The club indicated that performances would continue as scheduled at the club in tribute. ‘Please join us and celebrate her legacy and memory, thank you in advance for your continued support,’ they added.
Joining in the public tributes to Darcelle on an Instagram post announcing her death were RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Bosco, Kerri Colby and Mayhem Miller, as noted by Entertainment Weekly.
Legendary performer: Darcelle XV, the drag persona of Walter W. Cole, Sr., died Thursday of natural causes at age 92, according to a Facebook post from her club. She was the Guinness record holder for oldest working drag queen; seen in 2019
New generation: Joining in the public tributes to Darcelle on an Instagram post announcing her death were RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Bosco (2nd to L), Kerri Colby (3rd to R) and Mayhem Miller (not pictured); seen with (L–R) Daya Betty, Jasmine Kennedie, Willow Pill, Angeria Paris VanMicheals, Lady Camden and Kornbread ‘The Snack’ Jeté
All three drag queens joined the comments on an Instagram post featuring the same statement as they posted multiple red heart emojis.
The announcement also promised details for a public memorial to Darcelle would be forthcoming.
Walter W. Cole, Sr. was born in 1930 and later served in the military before being discharged in the late 1950s.
Before coming out as gay years later, he was married to a woman and shared two children with her.
It was the money that Cole saved up from his military service that helped him become a business owner, which would later lead to him owning his own club.
He started out by buying a coffeehouse, and later he purchased a tavern that was repurposed as the Darcelle XV Showplace when it opened in 1967.
Darcelle reportedly developed her stage name as a tribute to the French singer and actress Denise Darcel, who starred as the female lead opposite Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster in the classic 1954 Western film Vera Cruz.
In 2020, the venue was added to the state’s National Register of Historic Places.
Early days: Walter W. Cole, Sr. was born in 1930 and later served in the military before being discharged in the late 1950s. He was married to a woman and had two children before coming out as gay
In 1967, he adopted the drag persona Darcelle XV and opened a club named after her in Portland, which remains open to this day
A statement made at the time of the designation from Oregon state representative Earl Blumenauer, who led the push for the historical status, noted that Darcelle ‘persevered through discrimination during the 1970s’ as she worked to keep her club afloat for decades to come.
In 2016, Guinness World Records declared Darcelle the oldest working drag queen when she was 85 years old.
It also noted that the Darcelle XV Showplace boasted the West Coast’s longest-running drag show.
In 2021, Darcelle was featured in the documentary Maisie, which focused on her friend David Raven, better known as Maisie Trollette, who holds the distinction of being the oldest drag queen in the United Kingdom.