Skippy LaRue was born in Port Arthur
His father was a boilermaker and bootlegger; his mother ran a house of
prostitution where they all lived. His mother beat him frequently.
drinking whiskey from age 5; having sex with boys from age 9. He was expelled from
school at age 11 for hustling merchant seamen.
He discovered the whorehouses
across the tracks and was introduced to a madam called Evelyn Hardtimes. He
lived there a couple of years. He tended bar and did other chores, and when a
customer wanted a boy there he was. He was able to charge 50¢, while the girls
charged only 25¢. He was also the only one giving fellatio. His customers
included judges, lawyers, police, doctors, military, executives. He was frequently taken as a girl, even in boys clothes.
He was 18
before he was introduced to the gay scene.
As he grew older Skippy tried
straight jobs: retail and delivery. However he kept drifting back into working as female. Skippy (as such) worked a roadhouse serving customers in their cars,
and then as a carhop. She went with men but French (oral) only unless they were in the
During WWII, LaRue was excused military service because of an ear injury
from his mother’s beatings. He moved to Seattle and worked at Boeing for 72¢ a
hour, and then on a ferry lunch counter. He met Jackie
, first at a party, and then because they lived in the same building.
When Skippy started going to the Garden of Allah, Jackie and others encouraged
her to perform, and helped with costumes, makeup and how to a do a gaff
. She sometimes performed as Madame Fifi.
Skippy supplemented the income from performing with running an after-hours
bottle club where
|Jackie and Skippy, 1946|
customers pretended that they had brought their own drinks to
get around the licensing laws.
Later Skippy went on the road with Hotcha
and Jackie Starr working carnivals, performing in girlie shows. The
other carnies knew what they were, but not the customers. In addition to the
show they had a blowoff (sideshow) act where they did a striptease and even, being
very confident of their gaffing, they had men pay to touch their genital area.
They were busted in Oxnard
, California and had to prove their male sex to the
police chief. However word got out, and the chief simply told them to get out of
In later years, Skippy lived in a mobile home in south Everett
, north of
Seattle, and worked at a gay bathhouse in Seattle, where he was known as Seattle’s
oldest female impersonator. He kept in touch with others, and when Don Paulson
was researching his book on the Garden of Allah, Skippy acted as a major
He died at age 82.
and Skippy LaRue photograph collection, 1903-2000
- Don Paulson & Roger Simpson. An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay
Cabaret in Seattle. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996: Chp 7.
- Gary L. Atkins. Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging.
University of Washington Press, 2003: 63.
- Mara Dauphin. " ‘A bit of Woman in Every Man’: Creating Queer Community in
Female Impersonation”. Valley Humanities Review, Spring 2012.: 11, 14. Online.
- Don Paulson. “South End Steam Baths”. Seattle Gay News. Online.
The 1930s were rather different. On p126 of Paulson & Simpson, Skippy says "a twelve-year-old boy was no different than a a twelve-year-old girl. At that time, many girls became prostitutes at twelve or thirteen,"
72¢ a hour does not sound much, but at that time one could rent an apartment for $10 a week.