Famed Female Impersonator Darcelle XV Has Died.
Portland, Ore. — Beloved Portland Icon and Guinness World Record holder, Walter W. Cole, Sr., also known as “Darcelle XV,” has died at the age of 92 from natural causes. The announcement was made on Thursday evening by Darcelle’s drag cabaret, the Darcelle XV Showplace.
Cole’s career began in Portland Civic Theater, where he developed his alter ego, Darcelle XV, and came out as gay. In 1967, he purchased a tavern called Demas, which later became the famous Darcelle XV Showplace.
Darcelle XV Showplace became a staple of Portland culture during the 1970s and was a beacon for drag performers nationwide. In 2016, Darcelle was certified by the Guinness World Records as the oldest drag queen performer in the world, and her career as an entertainer spanned 57 years.
Many people were heartbroken by the passing of the beloved icon. Democratic Senator Earl Blumenauer’s office released a statement reacting to the news of Darcelle’s passing, referring to her as a “symbol of the spirit of Portland.”
Darcelle’s legacy will live on through her philanthropy, legendary show venue, and the countless lives she has impacted for good. Earlier this month, Darcelle collaborated with Gigantic Brewing on a blonde IPA, paying homage to her work and influence. The venue also became the first LGBTQ+ historic site designated in Oregon, thanks to the advocacy of Blumenauer.
Details of a public memorial for Cole will be announced as soon as they are confirmed, but all shows at Darcelle XV Showplace will continue as scheduled, per Darcelle’s wishes.