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18 April 2013

Les Lee (1929 – 2010) performer.

Les Lee from Québec became a female impersonator at age 19, emigrated to Paris in 1954 and stayed there for the rest of his life.

A glamorous performer Les Lee worked many years at Le Carrousel and frequently appeared in Japan and West Germany. He worked with Australian Tracey Lee as the Dolly sisters, and was like a big sister to April Ashley: he translated for her, found accommodation for her and went to visit when she had surgery:
Les Lee, Margaret Lockwood, April Ashley, 1957
"Les was always enormously kind to me. He had all the old-fashioned vices, but all the old-fashioned virtues too. He sent money home to his parents every month. He saved, had a budget for everything, made all his own dresses, sewed every sequin on himself.”

His début in England was in Paul Raymond's Birds of a Feather, 1970, a show that was ahead of its time.

Les Lee designed and modelled a collection of women's cloths with some success, such that the models union was able to persuade the French Government to pass a law forbidding female impersonators working as models.

He died at age 81.
  • Desmond Montmorency. The Drag Scene: The Secrets of Female Impersonators. London: Luxor Press. 1970: 96-7.
  • Peter Kenna and Steve J. Spears. Drag Show. Woollahra, N.S.W: Currency Press, 1977: 67.
  • Anthony Slide. Great pretenders: a history of female and male impersonation in the performing arts. Lombard, Ill.: Wallace-Homestead Book Co, 1986: 46.
  • April Ashley with Douglas Thompson. The First Lady. London: Blake. 383pp. 2006: 82, 86-8, 96, 98-9, 101, 103, 106, 114-6, 125, 132, 191.
  • "Drag History Diva-Les Lee" A Day with the Mistress Borghese, January 23, 2011.

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