Pop Goes The News — Toronto’s Michelle DuBarry is being recognized by Guinness World Records as the World’s Oldest Drag Queen.
News that DuBarry will hold the record came via email in mid-November and was announced Tuesday night at Statlers, a Church Street bar where she regularly performs.
DuBarry is the glittery alter ego of Russell Allread, who celebrated his 84th birthday on Monday. (The drag surname is taken from the 1943 Lucille Ball film Du Barry Was a Lady).
DuBarry took the record from 83-year-old James Haake of Palm Springs, California. Earlier this year, Haake — who does not wear a wig when he performs as Gypsy — told The Desert Sun he is not a drag queen. “I’ve been called worse,” he said.
(In Portland, Oregon, fans of Darcelle XV — the drag alter ego of 85-year-old Walter Cole — insist she should be the record holder.)
Toronto marketing expert Max MacDonald had been working with DuBarry for months to get her recognized by Guinness, which is owned by Vancouver-based Jim Pattison Group.
Born in Bowmanville, Ont., Allread has said he was only 9 years old when he started putting on dresses. He began performing in the early ’60s as Anita Modé and later, as Michelle DuBarry, toured with Phase One and then The Great Imposters.
DuBarry has been an icon in Toronto’s vibrant drag community for decades.
As Guinness World Record title holder, DuBarry will receive an official certificate and will be listed in the 2017 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, published next September.
The company, based in the UK, has been Canadian-owned since 2008. Jim Pattison Group’s long list of holdings also includes Ripley Entertainment.
Other drag-related categories listed by Guinness include Longest Line of Dancing Drag Queens and Largest Drag Queen Show Stage.
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