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.