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06 December 2008

Phil Black (190? - 1975) female impersonator, ball organizer.

Phil Black grew up in Pittsburgh.

In 1924, dressed as female, he went to Cakewalks with a buddy and they won first prize as the best couple. Friends told him that he was as good as the professional female impersonators.

He started with bookings in the Pittsburgh area, and then joined a touring group, Shufflin Sam. For six years from 1927 he played in and around Atlantic City, often as the only colored member of the troupe.

From the mid-1930s he was based in New York City, appearing in Greenwich Village and Harlem.

In 1944 he played Montréal for four months, and in 1948 he was promoting boat rides on the Hudson River.

He put on the Funmaker drag balls, where anyone who cared to could be in drag, from the mid 1940s until his death, that became the standard for the later voguing balls. His show was both a song and dance routine.

He made his own gowns.

*Not the auctioneer, nor the fitness consultant.

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