Male impersonators are a fascinating part of music hall history and I have a lot of postcards of these artistes. This post is mainly pictorial and then in the next post I’ll choose one performer to talk about in more detail. I can’t resist showing the not so good along with the sublime and I’ll leave you to decide which is which.
The crowd have settled, the hammer has fallen and the performer moves into the limelight. A song, a dance, a novelty act, a wink and a smile transported women from the Music Hall into the lives of their audiences and sometimes into their hearts. Who were these women? How did they live their lives? Let’s visit their world.
A popular figure on the Music hall stage was the male impersonator.
There were many of them, famous names such as Nelly Power, Vesta Tilley, Hetty King and Ella Shields. Some were not so famous but known to the audiences of the time, among them Bessie Bonehill, Emma Don, Pauline Travis and Louie Tracy ‘the dapper dandy boy.’