Cross-dressed and crossing over from stage to television

Jonathan Bollen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Female impersonation was a popular aspect of light entertainment in mid-twentieth century Australia. On stage, the Kiwis Revue Company, an army entertainment unit from New Zealand, toured extensively for eight years from 1946, with three female impersonators as the highlight of an all-male bill. Female impersonation was also standard fare on variety shows during television's first decade. In such sketch comedies and spoofs lie television's strongest claims to inheriting the traditions of variety performance from the stage. Comedic drag roles, in particular, came directly from the stage, for the visual incongruities of costume, wigs and make-up would have had less currency on radio. This article explores the cross-gendered dimensions of light entertainment on television and stage, drawing on film and television recordings at the National Film and Sound Archive and research at Australia's performing arts collections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-150
    Number of pages10
    JournalMedia International Australia
    Issue number134
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


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