The death of Walter Cole, better known as Darcelle XV, hit Portland like a thunderclap last night. And at Darcelle XV Showplace, the staff is honoring the iconic drag performer’s legacy the way she wanted: by making sure the show goes on.
“We’re all grieving and feel all of your love and support coming our way!” the nightclub stated on its Facebook page, adding that it “will carry on in the grand tradition of show business (and Darcelle’s expectation!) and look forward to entertaining you all this weekend.”
That means early and late shows slated for this Friday and Saturday will go on as planned, with Sunday Funday Drag Queen Brunch to follow.
“All shows at Darcelle XV Showplace will go on as scheduled per Darcelle’s wishes,” Darcelle XV co-hostess Poison Waters added, noting that details of a public memorial would be announced at a future date. “Please join us and celebrate her legacy and memory, thank you in advance for your continued support.”
As news of Darcelle’s passing spread, Oregonians have taken to social media to share their memories of the legend who, at 92, was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest performing drag queen. Among the many to mourn their passing on social media was Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who posted a brief tribute on Facebook.
“Darcelle XV (Walter Cole) was not just an artist, a business owner and fighter for the rights of all but a symbol of the spirit of Portland,” Blumenauer wrote. “Their passing tonight is incredibly sad but their legacy will live on.”
Meanwhile, KOIN meteorologist Josh Cozart wrote, “The LGBTQ friendly space [Darcelle] built was one of the first queer spaces I felt comfortable in and felt like I belonged. It’s where my fiancé and I first started going to drag shows together during the pandemic. Her stage was where I got to debut Tori Nado for the first time. This is just one story of many LGBTQ+ members Darcelle has touched.”
One of the most touching tributes came from Donald Horn, the Triangle Productions artistic director (and creative force behind the biographical musical Darcelle: That’s No Lady). Horn was one of Cole’s most devoted friends, and a companion on morning walks.
“What can I saw about a person who for 30 plus years invited you in, made you feel like a million and who even this morning said, ‘Shut up, Donnie’?” Horn wrote. “We would normally laugh at that, because usually it was his turn to talk, but today he wanted to say one more thing, and when he gave me a kiss he said, ‘Now get out, Donnie.’ And I left. I felt that this was my last time with him. I was right. No regrets. We did a lot, didn’t we?”
Horn added: “Walter, thank you for everything. I am proud to have done so many adventures. I guess photos and all the archives, videos will be what I have now. Love ya, pops...enjoy the next adventure!”