PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A public celebration of life for Walter Cole, famously known as the world’s oldest drag queen Darcelle, will be held in Downtown Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Tuesday, April 25.
Kevin Cook, another known drag performer who co-hosts Darcelle XV Showplace as Poison Waters, announced the memorial on Facebook the night of Monday, April 10.
According to the post, the memorial will be a no-cost, all-ages event. Doors will open at 6 p.m., with seating starting at 7 p.m. and the program at 7:30 p.m.
Cole’s celebration of life comes about a month after Darcelle XV Showplace announced his death on Thursday, March 23. The groundbreaking drag queen died from natural causes at the age of 92.
In 2019, Cole spoke to KOIN 6’s Ken Boddie about how he came to break the Guinness World Record for being the oldest drag performer.
The performer, who grew up in Northwest Portland’s Linnton neighborhood, served in the military before returning to the city. By the 1960s, he was living with his wife and two children in Southeast Portland.
In 1967, Cole opened the Demas tavern that would one day become Darcelle’s XV Showplace. But back then, it was a lesbian bar where he would sometimes perform under his drag persona Darcelle.
By 1969, Darcelle had become a prominent figure in Portland. During this same time, Cole came out as gay and left his wife. He then started a relationship with artistic director Roxy Neuhardt.
Throughout his 92 years of life, Cole built a legacy that impacted the next generation of drag queens — not just in Portland, but all over the world.
Anyone who can’t attend the memorial event in-person can stream it live on YouTube.
For people traveling to the Rose City for the memorial, Hotel Lucia, Dossier Hotel, Sentinel Hotel and Hotel Deluxe are all offering discounted rates for out-of-town guests.
There will be open seating at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, but tickets are still required for admission.