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19 February 2014

Tobi Marsh (1938 – 2012) performer

John Dale Harvey was raised in Greeneville, Tennessee until age 12 when his family moved to Cincinnati.

As a teenager he started working as a amateur female impersonator, and at 19 was a member of the Jewel Box Review - where he took the name Tobi Marsh. He joined just after Dorian Wayne left creating a vacancy. In the early 1960s he was engaged at Club 82 where Tony Midnite was doing the costumes.

Tobi's lover was the 6'5" (1.96m) Yale-educated lawyer Sandy. Sandy liked to say that he was five foot 17 inches. He was a regular in Virginia Prince's FPE organization in New York, where he rarely wore female clothing, but did show photographs of himself so dressed.  He was also part of the local bondage community.

Tobi had a part in the 1971 film, The Love Thrill Murders/Sweet Savior with Troy Donahue, as a hair-dresser in drag who is killed. He was also in Devil in High Heels, Grand Illusion, The Bedroom Window 1987.

Tobi did an European tour appearing at Chez Nous in Berlin (where his landlord subjected him to homophobic abuse), Madame Arthur's and Le Carrousel in Paris, but came home disillusioned:
"The local entertainers were resentful of Americans working in their countries. The standard of living was below par for an American. I cancelled my contract and came home."
Tobi retired age 55. John Harvey died aged 74 from complications after a car accident.

Queer Music Heritage    De Alba    IMDB

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One presumes that Prince was not informed about Sandy.   While male lovers of trans women are mainly straight, in the 1960s Sandy would have been taken as gay for having Tobi as a lover.  And into bondage too!

1 comment:

Modera said...

I've seen a few interviews with Tobi and blurbs about her on the internet. And for some strange reason it never mentions that she was part of the group "All That Glitters Is Not Girls" for YEARS in Boston, starting in the mid to late 70s. I think she took some time off in part of the 80s, but she was back doing drag in Boston in the early 90s. She did a wonderful fan dance and I took pictures of her performing in Boston both in the late 70's/early 80s and in the early 90s. I don't think she particularly loved Boston, but that was pretty much her home for at least 15-25 years!