Angie Stardust: Travesty & Soul
Raised in Harlem, by the name of Mel Michaels, this New York drag diva-cum-European exile performed from age 14 at clubs like the Jewel Box Revue. Even in 1960s New York, black entertainers were not welcome in many of the middle class drag establishments, where white queens performed nightly to a primarily hetorosexual clientele. Mel Michaels proved herself the exception, eventually headlining the 82 Club, where she became the stage's first African-American star. ''I come from a land of different races'', Angie sings (in German) in the movie City of Lost Souls (1983). ''As dumb as it is, they'll always hate each other. That's why I had to leave the land I love...I'm not happy, but yes, I'm satisfied. And I know, whether or not it's right, I'm in exile.''
Performing at a time when drag was seen as a type of showmanship, not a lifestyle, queens were meant to enter the club in full male garb and exit in the same manner as they arrived. The incongruous transformation, from male to female, was the game and hyperfeminine costumery were the tools of what was very much seen as a trade. Angie, on the other hand, had always thought of herself a transsexual and longed to become a biological woman, not merely a lady of the limelight. Even though she was their star, Angie was eventually fired from the club where she worked for self-administrating female hormones, a kind of cheating in the eyes of the management.
When an invitation from Germany arrived, Stardust toured Europe, where the pageant queen look that had brought her acclaim in New York slowly made way for a more post-punk cabaret sensibility. Stardust settled in Hamburg, where she managed the city's first all-male stripclub, Crazy Boys, and later opened Angie's Nightclub, where she performed nightly until 1999, after a series of strokes caused her to turn over the establishment, which retains her name to this day. Angie Stardust passed away in 2007.
Playback queens with broken dreams
With lives that aren't quite what they seem
Searching for the love that everlasts
Younger boys, commuter cars
Making love with missing parts
Transparent prisoners of the past
Come on, come on, come on, come on
To the City of Lost Souls!
Little Joe, No. 4