Friends remember Darcelle XV, iconic Portland drag queen

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:44 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Iconic Portland drag queen Darcelle XV has died at the age of 92, according to close friends.

Born Walter W. Cole in 1930, Cole performed under the stage name Darcelle XV at Portland’s Darcelle XV Showplace which opened in 1967.

In 2016, Darcelle was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest drag queen at the age of 85.

Known for running the West Coast’s longest-running drag show, Darcelle’s XV Showplace was added to the Oregon National Register of Historic place in 2020.

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In a statement released following the announcement of Darcelle’s death, Darcelle XV Showplace released the following statement: “The family of Darcelle XV along with her cast and crew are heartbroken to announce that our beloved Darcelle (Walter W. Cole, Sr.) has died at age 92 from natural causes. We ask for privacy and patience as everyone processes and grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Details of a public memorial will be announced as soon as they are confirmed. All shows at Darcelle XV Showplace will go on as scheduled per Darcelle’s wishes. Please join us and celebrate her legacy and memory, thank you in advance for your continued support.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer also released the following statement following Darcelle’s death.

“Darcelle XV (Walter Cole) was not just an artist, a business owner and fighter for the rights of all but a symbol of the spirit of Portland,” Blumenauer wrote. “Their passing is incredibly sad, but their legacy will live on.”

Both Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Governor Tina Kotek tweeted shortly after the announcement of Darcelle’s death.