Image: @darcellexvshowplace/Instagram

Inside the incredible career of Darcelle XV, the oldest working drag queen

The LGBTQ+ activist and legendary drag artist Darcelle XV, passed away on March 23 from natural causes in Portland, Oregon.

Darcelle was certified as the globe’s oldest working drag performer in 2016 by the Guinness Book of World Records. Additionally, the artist earned a title for hosting the longest-running drag show on the West Coast.

For nearly 50 years, Darcelle owned and ran a nightclub, Darcelle XV Showplace located in Portland. The club shared the news of his passing on Facebook, writing: “Please join us and celebrate her legacy and memory, thank you in advance for your continued support,” they wrote, adding that all previously scheduled shows at the venue will still go on “as per Darcelle’s wishes.”




Darcelle XV was the stage name of Walter W. Cole, according to the club’s website. He served in the U.S. Armed Forces and in 1967, Cole used his funds to purchase a tavern that would eventually become the Darcelle XV Showplace.

Cole eventually crafted his alter persona as Darcelle XV and came out as gay. He began a relationship with Roxy Neuhardt, who helped him run the Showplace as a choreographer, show director, and featured performer, in addition to serving as a bookkeeper, office manager and payroll accountant.



The venue was nominated for national historic registry status in June 2020.  It was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 2020.  

This week, there was news of a push to rename a Portland street in honor of the drag talent’s career. 

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