Drag Yourself Out … Vesta Tilley … Queer Lit


Drag Yourself Out

During Pride James and Tony, as two members of the LGBT Foundation’s Pride in Ageing project in conjunction with Southway Housing, performed their drag debuts on the Alan Turing stage in Sackville Park.

These are the “before” photos:

These are the “after” photos:

To see the process have a look at the photos here.

The performance was exciting.

Here we are as Di Chotomy and Patsy De Kline getting lots of attention in the gay village.

We were exhilarated and exhausted afterwards.

After changing and washing off the make-up, we had another wander around the village but this time we were invisible.

Vesta Tilley

Matilda Alice Powles (13 May 1864 – 16 September 1952) was an English music hall performer and an early drag king. She adopted the stage name Vesta Tilley and became one of the best-known male impersonators of her era.

Vesta Tilley (in and out of drag)

With her father’s encouragement, Powles first appeared on stage at the age of three and by six she was appearing to sing songs dressed as a man. She would later perform male roles exclusively, saying that “I felt that I could express myself better if I were dressed as a boy.”

Her career lasted from 1869 until 1920. Starting in provincial theatres, she typically performed as a dandy or fop, but she also found additional success as a principal boy in pantomime.

By the 1890s, Tilley was England’s highest earning woman. She was also a star in the vaudeville circuit in the United States, touring a total of six times. She married Walter de Frece, a theatre impresario who became her new manager and songwriter. At a Royal Command Performance in 1912, she scandalised Queen Mary because she was wearing trousers.

Becoming Lady de Frece in 1919, she decided to retire and made a year-long farewell tour from which all profits went to children’s hospitals. Her last performance was in 1920 at the Coliseum Theatre, London.

She then supported her husband when he became a Member of Parliament and later retired with him to Monte Carlo. She died in 1952 on a visit to London and is buried at Putney Vale Cemetery.

Manchester’s First Dedicated Gay Bookshop

A brand-new addition to Tib Street in the heart of the Northern Quarter, opening Queer Lit UK has been a chaotic six-week journey for owner Matthew Cornford, but one that actually started back in 2020 with the launch of a massive online bookstore.

Hoping to make LGBT+ titles more accessible to readers across the UK, Queer Lit initially carried around 700 fiction and non-fiction books from some of the world’s biggest queer authors.

Self-confessed book lover, Matthew set up Queer Lit after his struggles getting his hands on queer literature, and, after a rather unsuccessful visit to Waterstones on Deansgate, who told him that they’d done away with their LGBT section, setting up his own bookshop was the obvious next step.

Opening last Friday (27 August), Matthew’s new Northern Quarter store stocks over 1,700 LGBT+ titles, and looks absolutely stunning. He’s set out to provide a dedicated safe place where queer readers can find books that cater for them, and he’s certainly delivered.

One of only four dedicated queer bookshops in the UK, Queer Lit UK stocks a dazzling array of titles from some of the most famous authors, but also hard-to-find and rare books straight from publishers who primarily deal with queer literature.

The books are split up into easy categories, from gay to lesbian, trans, non-binary, parenting, youth (10-14 years), graphic novels and even children’s books – there’s an almost overwhelming selection on offer, but fear not because Matthew and his lovely members of staff are on hand to answer questions, offer recommendations or just to have a chat.

Future plans include a separate ‘safe space’ downstairs, where customers can sit, read or just relax, somewhere comfortable away from the stresses of everyday life in the city – which should hopefully be open before the end of the year.

Matthew and team are open every day, so pop in, have a coffee, a bit of wine and a chat and check out this fantastic new addition to the city. Keep your eye out for their colourful window display – you can’t miss it!

3 thoughts on “Drag Yourself Out … Vesta Tilley … Queer Lit

  1. I’m sure I’ve seen those two ladies before … Blanche and Baby Jane Hudson? I’m joking of course … you both looked fantastic and well done for being such good sports! xxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s