The performance hall named after Arlene Schnitzer is where the party will be held on April 25. Late in March, at the age of 92, Darcelle XV passed away. Darcelle XV, a worldwide star in drag, will be farewelled in a spectacular last show. On Tuesday, April 25, there will be a public memorial service.
“The bold, the blonde, and the beautiful,” Walter W. Cole, Sr., better known as “Darcelle XV” across Portland, passed away in late March at 92, having lived a whole and happy life in the city he loved.
The memorial service will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Seating starts at 7 p.m. in the lobby (and the adjacent Art Bar & Bistro in the Portland’5 Center for the Arts), which opens at 6 p.m.
This is a free, family-friendly event. You’ll need a ticket and may choose between general admission or open seating. Room discounts are provided for out-of-town visitors. Darcelle’s de@th was announced in March at her drag cabaret, the Darcelle XV Showplace.
“The family of Darcelle XV, along with her cast and crew, are heartbroken to announce that our beloved Darcelle (Walter W. Cole, Sr.) has died at age 92 from natural causes,” the club posted on Facebook.”
“We ask for privacy and patience as everyone processes and grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Details of a public memorial will be announced as soon as they are confirmed. All shows at Darcelle XV Showplace will go on as scheduled per Darcelle’s wishes. Please join us and celebrate her legacy and memory. Thank you in advance for your continued support.”
Cole entered the military after his 1930 birth, married, and had a family. However, he finally revealed his identity as a homos*xual man, which was not widely accepted then.
Cole’s stage persona Darcelle grew enormously as she took center stage at the closed pub in Portland’s northwestern neighborhood. In 1967, Cole purchased the building and opened it as the nightclub Darcelle XV Showplace.
Cole had several dimensions beyond his theatrical presence. He was a guiding figure for the whole neighborhood. A fan of the late Portland drag diva Darcelle XV unofficially renamed Northwest 3rd Avenue and Northwest Davis Street as Northwest Darcelle XV Street shortly after her de@th.
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In addition to recognizing her during a Timbers game, the club also presented a unique shirt designed in her honor, demonstrating the depth of her impact on Rose City.
Kevin Cook, well known by his drag name “Poison Waters,” took to social media to share the sad news. Cook discussed Cole’s legacy after he died in a March 2023 interview with KGW, noting how his bravery inspired subsequent generations.
“He did so much work on behalf of all of us without even intending to, just a one-person activist crew. He was just living his life,” said Cook.
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