November 16, 1953 – November 16, 2004
Michael Sweazey of Canton and formerly of Garden City began bartending at Gigi’s in Detroit in the mid-1970s and was one of six employees to inherit ownership of the bar after the death of Tony Garneau. For many years he worked as Gigi’s show director and performed female impersonation under the name Vanessa LaSalle. Sweazey was survived by his life partner of 28 years Steven McAfee.
Between The Lines, December 2, 2004
March 22, 1949 – July 25, 1989
Born in Detroit, Joseph Daniel Maldonado grew up in Saginaw and moved back to Detroit following high school. Through much of the 1970s he performed as Dani DiLetto at such clubs at Morey’s, the Iron Hinge, and Bookie’s Club 870. DiLetto was awarded the title of Miss Gay America in 1976 when the original winner had the crown rescinded. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 40.
Saginaw News, July 27, 1989
This Week in Texas, August 11, 1989
September 5, 1934 – July 3, 2011
Minnesota native Vicki Marlane was among a troupe of female impersonators who performed at the Diplomat Lounge in Detroit in the early 1960s. Born Donald Sterger, Marlane underwent gender affirmation surgery in San Francisco, where she continued to perform into her 70s. She was subject of the 2009 documentary Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight. She died from AIDS-related complications at age 76.
Bay Area Reporter, July 14, 2011
Vicki Marlane photographs and artifacts at the GLBT Historical Society
Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight on Vimeo
June 4, 1963 – July 19, 1993
Bradley Grant was a longtime member of the Detroit chapter of Black and White Men Together. He served on the board of the Michigan Organization or Human Rights and was active with the Detroit Area Gay/Lesbian Council. He also performed as a female impersonator under the name Peaches la Fleur. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 30.
BWMT Detroit newsletter, August 1993
June 19, 1928 – October 20, 1995
Negaunee native Jack Genore performed as Fat Jack at the Diplomat, the Gold Dollar, and other Detroit drag venues during the 1960s and 1970s. He was particularly noted for his rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”
Mining Journal, October 22, 1995
April 20, 1976 – April 8, 2013
Detroit native Edward Johnson studied dance at Oakland University, Marygrove College, and Wayne State University. His LGBTQ activism included work with the Horizons Project and Men of Color. Johnson also won a number of Detroit area female impersonation titles performing as Tokyo Reign.
Between The Lines, April 18, 2013
July 14, 1955 – June 11, 1999
For more than 25 years, Robert Brunner performed female impersonation in Detroit under the name Melba Moore, winning the Miss Gay Continental U.S.A. title for 1981-82 and honored for Lifetime Achievement by the Performers Awards of Detroit in 1999.
Cruise, June 16, 1999
Melba Moore Tribute at Our Community Roots