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Michelle DuBarry

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Michelle DuBarry is the stage name of Russell Alldread (born November 23, 1931), a Canadian drag queen,[1] who was awarded the title of World's Oldest Performing Drag Queen by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2015.[2][3] However, the distinction was disputed by another performer, who was subsequently awarded the title in 2016.

Background

Born in Bowmanville, Ontario in 1931,[1] Alldread was a performer in childhood, winning an award for his singing at the Port Hope Music Festival in 1939.[4] Around the same time, he had his first experience dressing in drag, when his cousins dressed him in a strapless gown for a photo shoot.[4] He continued to be involved in theatre until moving to Toronto at age 18.[4]

He worked for General Motors and began having relationships with men,[4] although he met and married a woman in 1957.[4]

Performing career

After divorcing from his wife in 1961, Alldread began performing in drag shows, initially under the name Anita Modé.[4] He adopted the name Michelle DuBarry in 1969 upon joining the Phase One drag troupe,[4] taking his new performing surname from the 1943 film DuBarry Was a Lady.[4] When his colleagues in Phase One later moved to Vancouver, DuBarry formed a new trio, The Great Impostors, with Tammy Autumn and Rusty Ryan.[4]

In his day job, Alldread worked as a women's shoe salesman.[3]

As DuBarry, he has been involved in the Trillium Monarchist Society and the Expressions Club, and has held the title of Empress of Toronto in the Imperial Court System.[4] He continues to perform as a drag queen in Toronto,[5] including bar shows and charity fundraisers for causes such as HIV/AIDS awareness and Gilda's Club.[6] DuBarry served as grand marshal of Toronto's Pride parade in 2007.[6]

DuBarry's signature number as a performer is Nancy LaMott's "We Can Be Kind".[7][8]

Controversy

Following the announcement of DuBarry's Guinness distinction, some residents of Portland, Oregon argued that the title should instead be awarded to Darcelle XV, who is a year older than Alldread.[9] Darcelle was awarded the title by Guinness on August 15, 2016.[10]

References