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10 October 2014

Anderson Toone (1958–) drag king, performer, musician.

Annie Toone ran away at 16 and played drums and harmonica in New York, and then at 19 in San Francisco for blues legend Mike Bloomfield and beat poet Bob Kaufman.

At 21, she moved to New York, and in partnership with Jordy Mark performed the review Sex & Drag & Rock n Role at the 1st Women's One World (WOW) Festival. They sang as both men and women, switching gender onstage. This led to meetings with Adele Bertei and Kathy Rey and the founding of postpunk group The Bloods, an all-butch cross-dressed band. The Bloods, along with Jayne County and Phranc, were the only out queer acts in New York at that time. Adele and Toone, as men in tuxedos, performed as dancers at CBGBs and other New York clubs. They opened for The Clash, and played with Richard Hell and most of the 1980s New Wave musicians. After a European tour, they played at the 2nd WOW Festival. In 1982 The Bloods fell apart while in Amsterdam.

Toone formed Idiotsavant with German drummer Leroi Pink who also passed as a man, and they were much featured in the European press for their gender play. The Dutch magazine Homologie ran a comic strip for two years based on Toone in real life. In 1985 Toone moved to London and was in Chain Reaction with Della Disgrace, Sophie Moorcock and Billy Goodfellow. They mainly performed genderfuck for lesbian audiences. Toone was then in the Well-Oiled Sisters. In 1990 Toone was featured in The Observer, and described as a cross-dressing gender bender, trans and a top.

By 1992 Toone was in San Francisco, with a band called The Bucktooth Varmints, and singing dyke-a-billy songs from a passing perspective. In late 1993 Toone and Elvis Herselvis (Leigh Crow) began working together. In 1995 he was featured in a SF Weekly cover story on drag kings, and produced an all-drag Queer Ole Opry. Leigh Crow and Toone were the first drag kings to appear at Wigstock and Trannyshack, and also at the first FTM Conference of the Americas. In 1996 the all-drag musical Hillbillies on the Moon, starring Toone and Leigh Crow, opened in San Francisco, and was featured on the cover of the San Francisco Bay Times.

In 1996 Toone taught himself web coding and created the Toone in Space, and later Madkats, "where drag is king". The Drag King Book, 1998, acknowledged Toone as a founding father, but does not otherwise feature him.

In 2001 he created the trans-art website, and the first version of The Drag King Timeline. He acted as Drag Dad to Carlos & Ken Las Vegas who invited him into the Las Vegas chapter of the Imperial Court. He wrote for and was features editor of Kingdom magazine, where he notably wrote a profile of singer Gladys Bentley, and later an overview of what he dubbed the SF dragcore. In 2002 he gave the keynote address at the International Drag King Extravaganza (IDKE) conference.

In 2003 Toone, after years of contemplation, decided to medically transition. His first name Anderson contains the German 'anders' for different, and is the Swedish form of Andrew which means manly.

In New York in 2004 Anderson performed as the Very Reverend Buck Shot, store-front preacher of the Gospel of Transensual Love. In 2007 he was featured in the film Riot Acts, a documentary about trans music, and presented and performed at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta.
  • Yvonne Roberts. "A whip away from plain old vanilla". The Observer, 5 August 1990.
  • Amy Linn. "Drag King: Sometimes girls will be boys". SF Weekly, 27 September 1995.
  • Del Lagrace Volcano & Judith Halberstam. The Drag King Book. London: Serpent's Tail, 1999: 7, 22.
  • Jacob Anderson Minahull. "Genre Fluid Performer Marches To Own Toone". San Francisco Bay Times, July 12, 2007.
  • Diane Torr & Stephen J. Bottoms. Sex, Drag, and Male Roles: Investigating Gender As Performance. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010: 27, 66, 67, 129.
  • Kate Davy. Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers: Staging the Unimaginable at the WOW Café Theatre. University of Michigan Press, 2011: viii, 17, 18, 27, 35, 52, 61, 66, 67, 71, 178, 185, 187, 204, 210.
IMDB   SoundCloud   QueerMusicHeritage

The IMDB entry for Anderson Toone is dreadfully deficient.  In addition to appearing in Riot Acts, Toone:
  • did part of the soundtrack for Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames, 1983
  • did the soundtrack for Michelle Baughan’s Jake’s Progress, 1987
  • with the Well-Oiled Sisters appeared in Channel Four’s Stand on your Man, 1990 (on women in country music)
  • The Sisters performed music for and appeared in the BBC comedy Came Out, It Rained, Went Back In Again, also 1990.
  • contributed to the soundtrack of Channel Four’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow, 1994 (the 25th anniversary of Stonewall).

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