Friday, June 16, 2017

Drag in the Family

By Starla Renee Trimm, Femulate Contributing Editor

The other day, I happened to catch one of the All in the Family episodes in which Finocchio's drag queen, Lori Shannon (Don McLean), appeared as female impersonator Beverly LaSalle.

There were three episodes in which Lori appears:  "Archie the Hero" (1975), "Beverly Rides Again" (1976) and "Edith's Crisis of Faith, Part 1" (1977). The character is somewhat of a breakthrough, being the first time a drag queen is depicted in a positive and sympathetic manner on U.S. television. Beverly becomes a friend of the Bunkers, especially Edith, who becomes quite chummy with her new "girlfriend." Even Archie comes to begrudgingly tolerate LaSalle's flamboyant personality.

In the third episode, Beverly is killed in a gay bashing causing Edith to go into a deep depression and nearly lose her faith in God. This is the kind of gut-wrenching pathos brilliantly, but respectfully complimented with humor that the show was known for in its heyday. (Interestingly, it has been pointed out that LaSalle may be more trans than drag queen, as she is shown dressing en femme even when not performing.)

Sadly, Shannon was not as sympathetic as the character portrayed in All in the Family. Shannon/McLaen was said to be quite stuck-up and mean-spirited in real life and was not well-liked by many of the drag queens at Finocchio's. When McLean passed away from health issues at the young age of 45, one fellow performer was quoted as saying, "I don't care what the doctors say – that queen died of hate."

Wearing Nicholas dress, Alexander Birman sandals and Mercedes Salazar earrings (Source: Intermix)

Kerela, India
Transgender beauty pageant in Kerela, India, June 2017


  1. AnonymousJune 18, 2017

    I’ve read in numerous places that the majority of women hate their bodies. As someone who has dreamed and yearned to be female all his life, I can’t get my head around this. Women have that beauty or prettiness ‘gene’ – not all women I grant you – but many of them have that feminine sparkle that makes them good to be near. I’m sure their monthly disturbances are part of the issue – but without those female hormones that rage through their bodies, they wouldn’t be women anymore.. I long to have a curvy body, one that sways as I walk.. one that clothes drape over, flat-fronted skirts that ripple and swing, silky blouses that add grace to my form, a bust that shows proudly beneath what I’m wearing. I love wearing womens clothes – sharing in all the little actions that are required – such as inclining one’s head to clip on an earring – or smoothing a dress or a skirt underneath when sitting down – or the feel of a bra strap on my shoulder. So many hidden pleasures.. Do women enjoy these things or do they pass by unnoticed?

  2. Back in the 1970’s resources and support for a young transgender person were non-existent.
    Desperately trying to understand the feelings I was having, it was shows like these where I would devour
    as much information that I could in an attempt to figure it all out.
    I remember this episode well, Edith’s acceptance of Beverly comforted me, and I remember thinking
    that I could be like Beverly when I grew up.