Posted in cross dressing, Edwardian and Victorian Music Halls, male impersonators of the stage, singing, Vaudeville

Girls Will Be Boys

Naturally impersonation is about creating an illusion.

Jessica Walker in “The Girl I Left Behind Me” at 59E59. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

In “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” playing at 59E59 Theaters through May 19th, co-author and performer Jessica Walker salutes the women who wore the pants in Victorian and Edwardian era music halls and on America’s vaudeville stages.

These ladies in trousers, like Miss Hetty King, Ella Shields, or the 6-foot Gladys Bentley from Harlem, dressed the part but sang in their natural register. Hiding in plain sight, in men’s clothing, achieved great success and had a large following. Walker and her co-writer, Neil Bartlett suggest that their admirers were complicit co-conspirators in women-worship.

Jessica Walker in “The Girl I Left Behind Me” at 59E59. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

It’s a fact that some of these professional cross-dressers may have been lesbians. One, Annie Hindle, in fact managed a marriage by signing the certificate with a man’s name. Nice tidbit, and there are some others in “The Girl I Left Behind Me” that will amuse and edify. But, unfortunately, the historical thesis of the show is neither shocking nor all that interesting.

Joe Atkins at the piano with Jessica Walker in “The Girl I Left Behind  Me.” Photo by Carol Rosegg.

In full gentlemanly attire, with tails and tophat– one of several she doffs for her performance,–Walker shows off a finevoice and a nice way around a variety of musical styles, even the operatic.

“The Girl I Left Behind Me” is presented by Jess Walker Musical Theatre and is part of the Brits Off Broadway. Learn more about “The Girl I Left Behind Me”at


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