Just An Old Drag Queen
Artist: Jaq Grantford
Edition: Edition of 250
Size in cm: Image 35W) x 35(H) on A2 archival paper
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Just An Old Drag Queen
At an age when most youths are celebrating an exciting and unknown future, Tootsie was dealing with a completely different reality.
At the age of 16, his twin brother died. His mother, unable to deal with the grief committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid. Tootsie was the one who found her a fortnight before his eighteenth birthday.
And then, to add to this grief, Tootsie was done a great injustice. In 1953, at the age of 20, he was jailed in Pentridge for two years solely for being gay. Working at the Cheltenham Benevolent Home for the Elderly he was arrested with seven other work colleagues. At first, Tootsie cried, but a policeman assured him that if he just owned up to being homosexual, he wouldn’t do time. So Tootsie confessed, only to find himself with a two-year jail sentence.
During that time he had a breakdown, and it’s not surprising; to be told that the essence of who you are is wrong, illegal and punishable would be horrendous.
And then at the age of 62, Tootsie embarked on a grand new adventure. He was invited by a mate to dress in drag and perform the pub circuits of Melbourne. Drag wasn’t something that Toots usually did, but he thought, ‘why not? Let’s give it a go!’
And so he did, becoming quite famous throughout the drag scene and a familiar and entertaining figure throughout Melbourne. He performed at many iconic venues in Melbourne including DT’s hotel in Richmond, the 3 Faces Nightclub, the Greyhound in St Kilda, the Southern Cross Floor Show, Prince of Wales (Pokeys), and on occasion with fellow drag performers Maxine Du Barry, Lottie, Jessica James and Amanda Munroe.
Known as the oldest drag queen in the southern hemisphere, he often attracted audiences in the thousands.
Tootsie passed away a few weeks after seeing the original portrait.
He was so thrilled to be painted and along with his performing career, viewed the recognition as a significant symbol – finally he was accepted for being who he was.
His story is a testimony that things can change and as a society, we can grow and develop a deeper understanding of others. He always remained himself and wasn’t afraid in his later years to start something new – albeit in a frock.
The original painter was the winner of the 2019 Kennedy Art Prize for beauty.
This fine art print is created using archival inks on museum grade art paper. The original work in oil paint on canvas has been professionally scanned, making the printed image as close to the original as possible. It is hand-signed and numbered in pencil, under the image on the front by the artist.
This fine art print is created using archival inks on museum grade art paper.
Archival Pigment Print | Hahnemühle Photo Rag
300gsm, Matte, Smooth, Natural White, 100% Cotton
Please note that the size of the print in the photo hanging on the wall may not be exactly to scale and you need to check how the dimensions will work in your hanging space, allowing for framing.
All prints are unframed and are made to order and completed within 10 to 20 business days.
Packaging and Delivery:
Our prints are carefully rolled and delivered either in sealed tubes or carefully packed flat within protective board.