June 7, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

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Who was Darseley? Tributes are pouring in as the world’s oldest working queen passes away at the age of 92

Portland’s famous cyclist queen, Darciel, passed away Thursday, March 23, 2023. Darciel, also known as Walter W. Cole, was 92 years old and died of natural causes.

For starters, Walter W. Cole has performed as the Darcelle XV for decades and was the oldest performer in drag. She was also crowned by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest performing musician in 2016.

A nightclub shared the news of her death as they said:

“The Club family, staff and staff are saddened to announce that our beloved Darcylie (Walter W. Cole, Sr.) has died at the age of 92 of natural causes. We ask for privacy and patience as everyone deals and grieve in their own way and at their own pace.”


“Details of the public memorial will be announced once confirmed. All showings at the club showroom will continue as scheduled in accordance with Cole’s wishes. Please join us and celebrate her legacy and memory. Thank you in advance for your continued support.”

Walter Cole was an army veteran and Darseley was his own pride

Walter Cole was born in 1930 and spent his childhood in northwest Portland. He also served in the army and was discharged from the army in the late fifties.

After retiring, Cole opened a coffee shop that became a hip new venue. Other than this, he also had a strong interest in acting, which is the reason for his alter ego. Soon after, Cole came out and announced that he was gay.

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Cole’s alter ego was a glamorous and intelligent performer who loved wearing shiny clothes and jewelry and lip-syncing to records.

Walter preferred her pronouns when performing drag and he/she pronouns off stage. In an interview with The Oregan, Cole said:

“If I hadn’t acknowledged my identity, I’d probably be dead by now. I was sitting on my couch retiring from… management. Not for me.”

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Many social media users shared how Cole was a force and a legend. They mourned her passing and said they had lost the “legend of clouds”.

We lost a drag legend today…RIP Darcelle XV…the oldest drag queen in the world…92 years young

Darcylie, the world’s oldest drag racing queen, has died at the age of 92. Instead of flowers, send boas… ..

I collapse. My friend Walter Cole, aka Darcylie, has died: The oldest working drag queen in the world.
I appreciate the time I spent with Walter at his home in Portland in 2019. He is so sweet, so warm, and so welcoming. He is loved by many.
to remember #darcel: The legendary drag queen has passed away at the age of 92. There will be two performances at Darcelle XV tonight.

We have lost a legend tonight. Darcel XV rip. You are the oldest drag queen in the world and we are better humans to know you.

“Portland icon and copycat Darcylie is dead. The legendary drag queen was an advocate for LGTBQ rights and a pioneer in Oregon entertainment.” Thanks for the fun and inclusion of serving our city. Rest in peace Darseley🕊️

It is also important to note that in 2020, the Cole’s Club was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first location in Oregon to be specifically nominated for its significance in LGBTQ+ history. The club has been entertaining people for over 50 years now.

Other than this, Cole also wrote his autobiography, Just call me Darcyliewhich was released in 2011. The book describes Cole’s life, childhood, experience in the military, and how he became a drag queen.

edited by
Adele Fernandez