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Author Topic: Who is Carmen Rupe  (Read 1184 times)


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Who is Carmen Rupe
« on: July 24, 2015, 10:46:46 PM »

In 1996 Carmen Rupe was inducted into the Drag Industry Variety Awards Hall of Fame.

Watch video here

Below is Ricca Paris' wonderful tribute to Carmen which appeared in the 1996 DIVA Awards official program

The 1996 inductee into the DIVA Hall of Fame is Carmen Rupe.

Considered a national treasure in New Zealand and a legend in Australia. She was born on October 10 l936.

Her first drag performance was in 1955 whilst in the army, for the troops. You could honestly say she has not stopped to this day. From the '60s she has sashayed back and forth across the Tasman. Beginning at the famous Purple 0nion, Carmen has performed at every drag venue both sides of the Tasman for over 50 years, including the world famous original Les Girls. It would be hard for most to imagine anyone else whose work has spanned five decades.

Her bohemian coffee lounge in Wellington during the 70's and 80's was infamous. Patrons of Carmen's international Coffee Lounge as it was called, included English Lords and Ladies, Prime Ministers, movie stars, rock stars, gays, lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuals, underworld criminals and beautiful nobodies.

Discrimination in any form was to be left at the door. The bordello above Carmen's was secretly as famous and many of her cafe's patrons found themselves up her private stairs.

Using her notoriety and fame she often spoke out 0n taboo subjects of the day, including Gay Rights, Prostitution and Drugs, Her marketing strategies were legendary. One 0f the most famous was as a guest to the equivalent of the Melbourne Cup in New Zealand, where she dropped her silver fox wrap to reveal she was topless. The press went into frenzy. She was escorted off the course and told she was barred for life. The next day she was on the cover of newspapers around the world. Her scandal had pushed the race meeting, onto page 2!

The international press interviewed her for months. It was then she would raise issues such as gay rights. She also had a queue for her coffee lounge every weekend for years.

She became the notorious "bad girl" that everyone loved and listened to.

Now a proud Australian citizen, her Maori heritage still holds pride of place. She is still sashaying across the Tasman often as an honoured guest t0 countless fund raisers.

It can be easily said that Carmen has played a major role in shaping the history of drag in both New Zealand and Australia. She helped take drag out of the closet and turn it into a career.

One, that many today should thank her for.

She is the original showgirl, larger than life, flamboyant, and large of heart, She has performed at every fund raiser she was asked to and at nearly 70 years of age, still plays an active role in Sydney's gay and lesbian community This legacy is now a part of life for every drag performer.

Ricca Paris

Reprinted from the Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust.

For more information about the Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust please go here:

Definition of Hats aka "Conflict of Interest" Statement: Mary-Jane is Editor of Perth Gay News, The Media Annuncio of the Perth Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of the Abbey of the Black Swan & Editor @ HIV Institute of WA.

#Twitter @AbbeyBlackSwan1

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Who is Carmen Rupe
« on: July 24, 2015, 10:46:46 PM »