Thursday, December 15, 2011

Legendary Carmen Passes Away

She literally stopped traffic around the inner city of Sydney as she drove along streets in her motorised wheel chair, feathers flying and multi coloured boas trailing behind. Always with a cheery wave and a huge smile.

The famous New Zealand born drag queen Carmen Rupe passed away today in St Vincent's Hospital from kidney failure at the age of 74. A month ago she celebrated her birthday with a gang of friends.

Carmen had recently arrived back from her native New Zealand where she had taken part in a conference of Agender a transgender support group.

Born in Taumarunui and known as Trevor Rupe for the first 20 years of her life, Carmen entered the sex industry after leaving the army in the 1950s.

In 1977 she ran for mayor of Wellington and campaigned for hotel bars to be open till midnight or even 2am; the drinking age to be lowered to 18; prostitution to be made legal; abortion to be decriminalised; homosexual acts to be decriminalised; sex education in schools for 14-year-olds; and nudity on some beaches all of which are now legal in New Zealand.

For many years Carmen worked for 'Mr Sin' Abe Saffron who had  a stranglehold over the booming nightclub and sex industry in Kings Cross for 40 years. As a star act in his Les Girls, the all male drag revue show during the 60's and 70s Carmen was a favourite of tourists who flocked in their hundreds every week to the tiny cabaret venue. And she attended Saffron's funeral at the Emmanuel Synagogue in Woollahra  in 2006 where her photo was splashed across newspaper pages.
RIP Carmen Rupe 1935-2011