Cornell University

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Fashioning a "Male Actress": Charles Pierce

Friday, November 5, 2021 at 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Human Ecology Building (HEB), T01

Mamp's research documents the fashioning of Charles Pierce, a prominent female impersonator in the mid-to-late twentieth century. During his career of over forty years, Pierce delivered acclaimed comedic impressions of gay icons such as Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn. Mamp contextualizes and interprets the development of Pierce’s cross-dressing from tuxedo and a few women’s fashion
accessories (to avoid arrest) to full drag. Pierce’s career as self-styled “male actress” coincided with the gay liberation movement. Much has been written about drag, less about female impersonators, and
no known research examining their costumes. This presentation thus provides a rare analysis of the material culture of female impersonation through Pierce’s costumes and accessories at the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California plus the Charles Pierce papers at the Billy Rose Theater Division of the New York Library for the Performing Arts.

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College of Human Ecology, Human Ecology Fiber Science and Apparel Design

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Contact Name

Karen Steffy

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Prof. Michael Mamp

Speaker Affiliation

Central Michigan University

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