the jewel in the box

Long long before Priscilla Queen of the Desert there was the Jewel Box Revue


During the 1940s warmer months, the Jewel Box Revue was a travelling showcase for the art form of female impersonation. In the winter months, the revue performed out of a nightclub in Miami called the Jewel Box Lounge.

There was always one male impersonator featured, a genetic female creating the illusion of a man. These early day drag kings would often MC the show, and sing in a tenor or baritone voice. The most notable male impersonators of the Jewel Box Revue were Miss Tommy Williams, Miss Mickey Mercer, and Miss Storme De Larverie. The latter is often reported as being the person who threw the first punch at Stonewall.

Storme DeLarverie by Diane Arbus found here

Terry Noel was one of the female impersonators who toured with the Jewel Box Revue. You can read the full interview this excerpt is from here

Terry Noel

I remember some of Hollywood’s elite being in the audience. I’ve seen Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, Jim Hutton, Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Lauren Bacall and Lorne Greene. I recall that Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty had just finished the movie “Splendor in the Grass.” They referred to it as “Splendor up my Ass.”

Warren and Natalie found here

Frankie Valli, of The Four Seasons, was one who was intrigued by my impersonation. He was nice to talk with. Unfortunately, he was there with a date. Enough said. I did date Jim Hutton several times. If you can’t remember who he was, just Google him, girls. I suppose to the younger ones, he is best known for being Tim Hutton’s father. He was sweet man. I enjoyed his company.

Jim Hutton

The decision to leave show biz was made the moment I decided to have my sex reassignment surgery in 1963. Unfortunately, there were complications which showed up after the surgery. I had a bad urethral stricture and had to carry around a small catheter to empty my bladder whenever I took in too much liquid. That went on for three years until 1968 when I had another surgery in Yonkers, NY. The Yonkers surgery was the successful one, although the hardest, because I had to have a skin graft taken from my right hip to allow the construction of an adequately deep and wide vagina. Recovery from that surgery took months. Today the place where the skin was taken is not noticeable at all and my vagina is fully functional and very cute!

In 1969, I moved to Virginia Beach, VA. There I met and married a military man (Navy). We were together a total of 14 years. He brought his son from his first marriage to live with us when the boy was nine years old. We bought a home and lived a normal life until 1985 when we were divorced. He, to this day, knows nothing of my past nor does my son who is now 38 years old.

It is hard to name all the things that make me happy. I guess now that I’ve reached retirement and have found contentment and peace, just having the free time to do as I please is my greatest joy.

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40 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. He, to this day, knows nothing of my past nor does my son who is now 38 years old.

    Good gracious!!

  2. I agree with Scarlet, that is truly amazing and I would have thought rather rare…

    Then again Queenwilly has no idea who she’s dealing with most of time, and frankly I don’t either.

    The King

  3. Mrs`Affer 2 pretended to be a woman for many years….

    • That must have been fun

  4. I immediately saw the resemblence to Timothy Hutton.

  5. I’ve always had my doubts about men who can cross their legs while sitting down in tight trews. You’re ballsack HAS to go somewhere.

  6. Cor, Hutton the Elder, hey, who knew!

  7. Priscilla is about to open on Broadway as a musical. I’m not interested. Not my cup of tea.

    Bearman is right! TH really does look like his father, doesn’t he?!

    There’s no way in hell they were together for 14 years and the husband never knew. I’m sorry but I simply refuse to believe it.

  8. Well, you have to cut him some slack. He was a navy man, after all.

  9. i had the biggest crush on Jim Hutton as a kid… played the part of “Ellery Queen” on a television mystery series. Seems there’s one less mystery for me to consider…

  10. Thank heavens this was as interesting as ever. I thought it was going to be about ‘The Only Way is Essex’ and being vajazzled. You may Google that.

    • Vajazzling? No way

  11. Very difficult for a man to create a totally convincing female identity. There are so many things that give him away. I find it impossible to believe the military man or his son suspected nothing. They may have been too embarrassed to ask such awakward questions if they did.

  12. I swear I posted my priscilla comment (re: Terence Stamp & Hugo Weaving) before you posted this! too funny…

    • And I swear I had written this before I saw your comment

  13. Storme DeLarverie has got ENORMOUS feet …… just sayin’

  14. Ha, someone who knows where the saying “not enough room to swing a cat” came from! Good for you.

    • This statement is often said at some of the crowded partiest I go to.

  15. I’ve decided my official Drag King name will be Mitchell Burger. Overalls and a hard-hat for me!

    • Or how about Mitchum Burger? Mitchum was a manly man

  16. “He, to this day, knows nothing of my past nor does my son who is now 38 years old.”

    Well, they’re going to know now, sunshine.

  17. Background checks!

  18. “Splendor up My Ass” was going to be the title of my memoir!

    Er, never mind. Forget I mentioned it.

    • Sorry, ma’am. It’s emblazoned on my memory now

  19. I’ll be in Miami in five days. I wish I could meet you there!

    You wouldn’t have to construct a wide and deep vagina out of thigh skin or anything.

    • I think your wife might have something to say about such a meeting Scott 😉

  20. Have you heard the new Handsome Family ‘Natalie Wood’?


    • No. I hadn’t. How beautiful, thank you.

  21. I had splendour up my ass too. Then I ate some prunes.

    This was a lovely post, and the title made me wonder. What is the jewel in the box?

    • It refers to a clitoris

      • Duh.

  22. Wonder why we don’t hear much about the Drag Kings? When I lived in San Francisco, I used to love to go to Finnochio’s the impersonator palace but I don’t know if it still exists.

  23. I ran into a queen on Saturday who must have been pushing seventy, she was all cougar-ed out and throaty and drunk off her ass. My friend and I bought her a shot of water and put her in a cab, poor thing.

  24. My vagina is fully functional as well. But my ass is a splendor-free zone.

  25. Lovely to read these comments. Don’t care much who believes what about me. Who cares after all these years. Keep on commenting, please!
    Terry Noel

  26. P.S. The fact that my ex-husband never knew about my past really says more about him and me, don’t you think? lol
    Terry Noel

    • Of course I meant to say ‘more about him THAN me.’ Please forgive.

      • No problem

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