Dane B. McFadhen~ additional info by rick castro

The heavy lipstick, those (fully furnished) bedroom eyes and the pancake that rivaled the entire Rockette's vanity table, these were the pansies. They took over the stage and ruled - for a while - until they got too big for their frilly britches and the straight man felt uncomfortable. 
Ray Bourbon
Ray Bourbon was one of the first pansy stars of the 20's and 30's. 
He was a queen with a dream and an aptitude for storytelling.

He claimed to have begun in the theatre in England in 1913, and this may well be true. What is true is that he returned to the U.S. by 1917 and, now known as Rae Bourbon, he supposedly won a Photoplay contest and was awarded a studio contract as first prize. He would say later that he worked in several silent films, and it is reported that he appeared under the name "Ramon Icarez" as a fire dancer at the opening of the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1923.

By the mid-20s, Bourbon was working with Bert Sherry as the vaudeville team of "Bourbon and Sherry" and later toured with the Martin Sisters. In 1932, he was working full-time as a female impersonator at Jimmy's Back Yard in Hollywood and Tait's in San Francisco. It was at Taits, in 1933, where his "Boys Will Be Girls" review was raided by police during a live radio show for being too risqué. It didn't stop him.

In the later 30s and early 40s Bourbon headlined at the Rendezvous in Los Angeles and starred in his own revue, "Don't Call Me Madam." His "Insults of 1944", at the Playtime Theatre in Los Angeles, caught the eye of film superstar Mae West who cast Bourbon in her 1944 production of 'Catherine Was Great" and in her 1948 production of "Diamond Lil".

During the 50s and 60s Bourbon entertained at hundreds of clubs and released dozens of albums, certainly the most prolific female impersonator to have done the latter. His appearances are still fondly remembered by many who saw him when he toured in big and small towns all over the country, providing many isolated gay men with a glimpse of the LGBT community of pre-Stonewall America.

Ray’s comedy was, at once, highbrow and lowbrow, overtly gay and covertly subversive, and yet, despite his influence on gay men, he remained vague about his own sexuality. There is evidence that he had relationships with both men and women, was married twice, and fathered at least one son. In his memoirs, Ray discusses his sexual attractions and relationships to both genders with equal enthusiasm, but never called himself gay or bisexual. He worked on stage in and out of drag.

Another great Bourbon exaggeration came when he cashed in on the news of Christine Jorgensen and claimed to have had a sex change in 1956; this is almost certainly not true.

By the late 1960s Bourbon had fallen on hard times. In 1968, barely eking out a living, traveling through Texas and working at the Jewel Box Revue in Kansas City, Bourbon was implicated in the murder of a dog kennel owner where Bourbon had lodged over 70 dogs after a fire destroyed the car he and his hounds were traveling in. 

The circumstances alone raise many questions, but Bourbon ended up being convicted as the mastermind of the killing, along with two conspirators.

He called his friends and desperately asked them for help. They ignored him.

The 78-year-old Bourbon was given a 99-year sentence and died on January 19, 1971 in the Howard County Texas prison, while penning his unfinished memoirs "Daddy Was a Lady".


Bruz Fletcher 

One of the most unique talents to come out of the Pansy Craze was Bruz Fletcher. Born to a wealthy and severely dysfunctional midwestern family, Bruz headed out to Hollywood.

After years of performing in various clubs, Bruz began headlining at Club Bali . His show was booked for only two weeks, but ended up running for an amazing 4 years. 

His witty and coded gay references rose above the camp making the little watering hole a favorite of the Hollywood scene.

Bruz was mentioned over 200 times in the LA Times during his run at Club Bali. Lucky for us Bruz recorded several records; even the macho Ernest Hemingway had a Bruz Fletcher album in his Cuban home.

After Prohibition ended on December 5th, 1933, police began cracking down on gay clubs and it was no longer safe or profitable to be an out gay performer.

Out of work and unable to cope with his bad fortune, Fletcher took his own life at the age of 34. His death symbolized the end of the Pansy Craze and the beginning of an era of intolerance that would last until the Black Cat, the Compton Cafeteria and Stonewall riots of the 1960’s.

Gene Malin 

Gene [Jean] Malin was born Victor Eugene James Malin in Brooklyn in 1908. He had two brothers; one became a cop and the other worked for a sugar refinery, sweetie. Gene designed costumes, and won many awards for his efforts at the elaborate Manhattan Drag Balls of the 1920s.

By his late teens, he was a chorus boy in several Broadway shows, and began working as a drag performer in several Greenwich Village clubs, most notably the "Rubaiyat". Newspaper columnists took note of his performances and soon Malin was booked at Louis Schwartzs' elegant "Club Abbey."

It was at this point that Malins' career and fate took a most interesting turn. Although he was at times assisted by "Helen Morgan JR.", a popular drag artist of the day, Malin stopped appearing in drag himself. The crux of his act was not to impersonate women, but to appear as an openly gay male, moving about the stage and amongst the audience members as a tuxedo-clad, elegant, witty, wisecracking Emcee. Malin's 'joke' was that he was a gay man doing his impression of a straight man doing his impression of a gay man.

Confused? So was the audience who loved it. Rather Victor Victoria wouldn't you say?

Malin was often laughed at for his mincing talents. But he turned out ot have fists of iron.
Malin once beat up 4 straight men who threw a pitcher of water on him while he was performing. The six feet tall Malin wasn’t the "Pansy weakling" they had thought they were bullying! The story made all of the papers.
Malin became the top earner of Broadway for a time. After headlining numerous New York Clubs, he took his act to Boston and ultimately to the West Coast. Malin opened the notorious CLUB NEW YORKER on hollywood blvd in the basement of the
 HOTEL CHRISTIE . scientology now owns this historic building. 

During his time in hollywood, Malin had small roles in several films, usually as the stock character of a witty limpwristed clerk.

In the early hours of August 10, 1933, Gene Malin was killed in a freak accident. After his "farewell performance" at the "Ship Cafe" in Venice, California, Malin got into his sedan with roommate Jimmy Forlenza and comedic actress Patsy Kelly, (known for being the side-kick to marion davis, thema todd, and the cameo of laura~louise in rosemary's baby). He apparently confused the gears and the car lurched in reverse and went off a pier into the water. His friends were seriously injured, but Malin was killed instantly--pinned under the steering wheel.

Gene Malin was only 24 years of age at the time of his death, and although many saw him as an oddity, in a short span of time Jean Malin made history.

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