Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Sad news. Regina Fong has passed away. I arrived in London too late to really be a Fongette, but I'll never forget the first time I saw Regina one Tuesday at the Black Cap. This outlandish creature, part Margaret Thatcher, part Ken Dodd, commanded the adoring crowds as though she really were, as she claimed, Her Imperial Highness, The Grand Duchess Regina Fong, Last Of The Romanoffs.

The joy of Regina's act was that it was always the same, yet it was always different. She had perhaps 20 routines, and could fit eight into a show. The audience would fervently shout for which sketch they wanted that night. "Skippy! Skippy!" "Typewriter!" "Hollywood!" "Skippy!" Eventually, a running order order would be decided, Regina would insult the audience, and we'd all play air-typewriter, or act out Skippy The Butch Kangaroo.

Her act was hysterical and berzerk. She'd mime to "A Mouse In A Windmill" at normal speed, and we'd have to react at various points, going clip-clippety-clop on the stairs. Then we'd do it at double speed; then triple; then faster still. On eight pints of lager.

There was the usual professional rivalry between drag queens, and I think to an extent the DE Experience took some of Regina's audience. But secretly I think they were quite close. Edna will be doing a tribute show at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern this Sunday. This Easter Monday, Compton Street will see the first annual Easter Bonnet Parade organised by HIV fund-raising group UKCoalition. The winner of the best bonnet will be presented with the specially designed ‘Her Imperial Highness Regina Fong Award 2003’.

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