Mr. Charlie Brown oral history interview, 2019-03-26

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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00:00:00 - Introductions 00:00:47 - Early life, places that he's lived

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: I grew up on a missionary baptist community in northern Tennessee, called Westmoreland, Tennessee.

00:03:19 - Discovering drag, early involvement with drag

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: I hadn't started drag at that point, but I was seeing drag. For the first--in Myrtle Beach, for the first time.

00:08:33 - Moving to Atlanta, local drag bars

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: And so, left, went to a gay club in Nashville, same place, same city. There for about two months and moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.

00:12:15 - Support from gay community and his partner, family's attitude towards homosexuality

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: Well, I mean, I've always given to the community. I mean, they gave to me, they gave me.

00:14:34 - Atlanta Pride, origins of nickname, Nashville drag in the late 1970s

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: But during the Gum Head days it, that was the developing of Atlanta, Georgia, and like, we moved here in like early '78 and I won Miss Georgia in 1980.

00:17:48 - Performance variations and influences, Charlie Brown's Cabaret and working at Backstreet

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: Yeah, I was kind of wondering about that, about sort of, knowing that the way we talk about drag, or performing, or stuff, changes over time, and I was wondering how you, sort of, would describe your style --

00:23:35 - Entertainers at Backstreet, Atlanta's attitude toward drag

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: Backstreet was unreal. Some of the finest entertainers in the United States came through Backdoor, through Backstreet.

00:26:44 - Drag mothers, cities he's performed in, the Sally Jessy Raphael Show

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: Is that similar to houses in the way, and drag queens taking in, people to take care of them may have been put off by their families, or communities, or --

00:31:54 - More about performance variations, support in Tennessee's gay community, lifelong serendipity

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: So, aside from, like you said, it's clear that emceeing is -- you're pretty passionate about that.

00:40:02 - Childhood on a farm, wardrobe, travelling performances

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: Did you actually grow up on a farm?

00:45:50 - Lips, evolution of drag, inspiring others

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: Have you ever really seen a show?

00:51:00 - Celebrities at Backstreet, aging, Atlanta's gay community

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: I just wish you could have been at Backstreet. Elton John used to come in and sit at the end of the bar.

00:53:45 - Makeup, politics in the gay community, Backstreet atmosphere and layout

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: What's it like putting on -- oh, I was just giving you a moment, I didn't know if you were --

01:00:06 - Impediments of certain drag queens, TV drag shows, continuing drag

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: (indistinguishable) strange sort of question, who -- and I'm curious about your answer, who, who can do drag in your opinion? It's kind of a big question.

01:05:20 - Suburban acceptance, separating work from home, AID Atlanta

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: You said earlier about how, you described it as "seemed like things would line up", and you'd move -- go somewhere and this would be like it was meant to be and this was meant to be. I imagine there's also been challenges, struggles, certain along the way. What were some tough moments, you know, about being a drag queen?

01:15:11 - Other Atlanta clubs, awards, inspiration for sets

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: It sounds like that there were quite a few more clubs in Atlanta, how was that --

01:22:21 - On putting on makeup, retirement, production, Travel Channel special

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: What's your average time getting ready these days?

01:28:24 - 1994 Pot Festival, diversity of crowd, more about his partner

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: It's kind of a family operation you've got here to some degree, like two partners working together.

01:35:08 - Acceptance, opinion on LGBTQ community, struggles outside of performance

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Partial Transcript: ADAM ALBRITE: The one more thing, last thing I was thinking about, I'm really struck by this, you know, this idea of acceptance and how integral (?) you, specifically, and drag queens are in that, and how that's changed over time, and is it -- is it getting better?

01:43:19 - Final transformation, evolution of drag clothing, final word

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Partial Transcript: CHARLIE BROWN: See why I like it? You saw me sitting here, old, bald-headed, fat man, didn't you?