Category Archives: Imperial Sovereign Rose Court: Portland

The Many Shades of Darcelle Closes at the Oregon Historical Society

A Selection from the Imperial Wardrobe

Article by Sebastian Fortino, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
Photos by Jewell Harrington III, CEO

It’s been a very big year for Portland’s own First Lady of Entertainment, Darcelle XV. A movie made about her in 2018, Through Darcelle’s Eyes by Portland’s own 360 Labs was featured in the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival. Darcelle was reportedly delighted not only with the film, but about the novel sensation of seeing her story come alive via 360 degree, virtual reality technology.

Check out the preview below…

Then, just this past fall, Donald Horn of Triangle Productions brought her life story to the stage–in our fair Rose City of course–in a musical called, “That’s No Lady.” The show was a smashing success, its overall craft, presentation, and professionalism displayed enough strength for a Broadway production.

But: what else would you expect from the fabulous Darcelle?

After all the Portland native was born (as Walter Cole) during the height of the Great Depression. Those born in that era saw hardship and are not afraid to fight for their beliefs. If you missed out–better hope Horn and his team will get it staged again in 2020. Last year marked 50 years of Stonewall, but the coming new year celebrates 50 years of the first gay pride parades throughout much of the country.

Additionally, she brought many a gown and of course a crown to the Oregon Historical Society. “The Many Shades of Being Darcelle: 52 Years of Fashion, 1967 – 2019″ closed on Sunday, December 8th so if you missed out you’ll just have to keep visiting Darcelle XV’s Showplace, host (or hostess, if you will) of the longest running drag show on the West Coast. You may see some of the garments again. Darcelle, like another royal lady (we’re looking at you Duchess Kate of Cambridge) knows wearing a favorite number again shows confidence in your own sense of style.

A Selection From the Imperial Wardrobe

A Selection from the Queen’s Wardrobe (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/JewellHarrrington III

Check out the glitter, the glamor, and…gaiety. As you will learn from the pictures below Darcelle, like many drag performers and performance artists fashion many of their own costumes.

Hansen/Darcelle Gown, 1965/1985 (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

Channeling Mae West: the Hansen/Darcelle Gown

This gown at right has a provenance of interest not just limited to the life of Darcelle. It was originally constructed for Gracie Hansen, a performer local to Seattle and Portland who came here in the 1960s to headline at the Hoyt Hotel. Fittingly, Gracie had her own showplace, Gracie Hansen’s Roaring Twenties room. Darcelle purchased the performer’s gowns after her death in 1985. Hansen also ran for governor in 1970 claiming she was “The best candidate money could buy.” She came in third place.

It’s fitting the possessions of such an iconoclast as Gracie Hansen would end up in the wardrobe of Darcelle. The ostrich plumes are certainly reminiscent of Mae West, it certainly asks, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”

Darcelle made some alterations to the ensemble, which includes the original hat. An interesting note, both performers were able to wear it at the original length. Despite the fact Ms. Hansen was a petite 5’2″ and Darcelle–without heels–is a solid 6′ tall.

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much: Coronation Gown 1972

Coronation Gown, 1972 (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

Everyone has had a wardrobe malfunction–even an Empress. This was the first time Darcelle used a pattern to create a “lewk,” as they say today. She was not pleased with the result of the gown she created to receive her crown at the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Portland Coronation in 1972.

In fact, she flipped the script on this gown: “When it was finished, I thought it was so damned ugly, I decided to wear it backwards,” the placard quotes Darcelle as saying. “Frontwards or backwards… It has been one hell of an amazing ride ever since.”

Green and white velvet gown, 1972/73 (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

Scintillating Silhouettes: Shimmer, Beads & Magic

The gowns in the image at right have sparkle and undeniable allure. The white gown, in the foreground has an accompanying floor length cape. You can see it in the picture featuring the whole lineup of Darcelle’s items on display if you scroll up in this article.

Darcelle loves the cut of the ensemble, the skirt of this column-style dress, bells out delicately to form a 360 degree hem. But, there’s a little secret.

“The colored balls on the dress are actually marbles that have been pressed flat and then glued to the dress,” Darcelle revealed. This lets us know costume design is part sewing skill, with equal parts ingenuity and magic.

Darcelle premiered the dress in 1972 and wore it to functions then and in the following year, according to the exhibit.

The gown in the background, with the blue and white tiered, flame-stitch application of beads, was in fact hand beaded by Darcelle. The creation weighs 23 pounds. It took three months to delicately string the beads, make sure the flame pattern sections matched continuously, before constructing the dress itself.

They say drag can be a time consuming, and expensive habit. They also say this of interior decorating. It’s not surprising gay men are perhaps suited to these decidedly transformative art forms.

Darcelle XV’s Coronation Crown 1972 awarded by the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Portland, OR (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

Activism: Heavy is the Head, that Wears…
…the crown, pictured at left. This is the very crown by which Darcelle XV was crowned by the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Portland, in 1972 as Empress. She has worn it through the early days of Gay Liberation in the 1970s, the days of disco, when Diana Ross first crooned “I’m Comin’ Out” to gay men and women happy to want “the world to know.”

But, this isn’t the only piece of jewelry she is proud of: despite the splashy baubles, bangles, and beads below and on her many costumes take a look at that simple denim jacket alongside all that glitters.

Darcelle’s Denim Bejeweled Jacket, Jewelry, Crown (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

In the 1970s Darcelle began wearing this jacket to functions where she did not necessarily need to appear in drag. Appearing in casual street clothes, topped off with this jacket. Over the past 50 years as a performer, activist, philanthropist, and all-around champion of gay civil rights many marks of service have been added. These mementos are both local and national, with a heavy score of them coming from work or appearances in San Francisco.

But most touchingly, and to remind us that a decade after Darcelle was crowned in 1972 the glittering party of that decade came to a shocking end: take notice of the AIDS ribbon pin worn to the right of the “D” pin, to the left of the crown pin. Despite all the accolades she has received for her performances, it’s not hard to imagine her considering her greatest work is the help she has given to the gay community locally and beyond.

Darcelle saw the impact of World War II as a child and adolescent; as Walter Cole he served the United States in the Korean War; in the 1960s he fell in love with his late life partner Roxy Neuhart; that same decade he took over a tavern in Chinatown transforming it into one of the most fabled drag venues in the country, if not on the globe, and was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for her long life and longevity on the stage. Then, bravely and eloquently, Darcelle used her venue, her voice, and her love to help support those stricken by the diagnosis in the early days.

A Belated Birthday: Darcelle with Words of Wisdom for Any Age

A few weeks ago, Darcelle XV reached her 89th birthday. Both in and out of drag, Darcelle speaks her mind. When asked what comments she had about her birthday, her response was simple and eloquent.

“We learn to laugh at ourselves first, and then we can laugh at everyone else,” she said to mark her birthday. Before reminding us, “Until we meet again, take all the time to make a special someone happy. Stay safe, stay well, and by all means stay in love.”


Darcelle as Walter Cole (left), with Donald Horn of Triangle Productions (right) at the Oregon Historical Society (c) 2019 ProudTimes.com/Jewell Harrrington III

These are the perfect words to begin our holiday season, here in Oregon! So, Merry Christmas, a Hanukah, a Blessed Kwanzaa, a Healthy New Year, and Happy Holidays all around.

Photo by Bill Spencer

ProudTimes Welcomes the New Monarchy

An Interview with Empress JenuWine Surreal Beauté & Emperor Chance de Valmont

by Jewell Harrington, III
ProudTimes CEO & (Unofficial) Rose Court Correspondent

The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court is Oregon’s oldest LGBTQ Organization, and second only to San Francisco’s Imperial Court System. On October 19th, came a very special time in Portland at The Melody Event Center, the crowning of Portland’s own Emperor and Empress. ProudTimes CEO and (Unofficial) Rose Court Correspondent, Jewell Harrington III sat down with Empress JenuWine Beauté, and Emperor Chance de Valmont for a personal interview to meet the newly crowned monarchs.

Proud Times: Congratulations to you both! Was this a pretty exciting ride for each of you? 

JenuWine Beauté: This was indeed a very exciting journey.

Chance de Valmont: Yes, very exciting indeed.

PT: How long have you been wanting to be crowned Emperor & Empress? When did you first say, “Someday, that’s for me!”

JWB: I’ve always admired and love Portland’s Rose Court. I often wondered if I would ever be one. Then one day I moved here and joined the organization. Six years ago, was when I realized that someday it could be me. 

CdeV: When I was a teenager titleholder with Portland’s Youth Court, I was introduced to the Rose Court. Ever since then I knew I would someday step up to become a Monarch of Portland.

PT: Can you tell us a little bit about your court names, your inspiration, etc.?

JWB: Well my name is JenuWine Surreal Beauté. I created the name JenuWine to reflect my persona in and out of drag. Surreal is a family name that comes from Mark & Rob Surreal, my Papas, who reside in the Tri-Cities of Washington. Beauté is my last name and comes from a queen who called me that one night and my friends adopted it and started using it for me. My Inspiration as a Rose Empress began with Rose Empress XLIV, Poison Waters. She showed me that you can have fun, stay classy, and support your community all by staying true to yourself. 

CdeV:  My stage name, Dr. Chance de Valmont has evolved over the years. Originally I went by Chance because it was my mother’s nickname for me. de Valmont is the last name of the male lead from the French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses. The Doctor title was given to me by the late DJ Scooter from The Escape Nightclub. A Disco-Pharmacologist If you will. 

PT: When did you each decide you would run for this year’s title? 

JWB: I made a personal change in March/April and began my process. It wasn’t until about June/July when I truly was onboard and committed to running. 

CdeV: After a successful step down as Imperial Prince Royal in 2017, I knew this was my time.

PT: What inspired you to run for your titles, and how long had you been considering it? 

JWB: I have been inspired by numerous Rose Monarchs who have paved the way in Portland for our community to be who they are. I have been considering running for five years now. 

CdeV: This community is what inspires me, without it there would be no reason to run. I am inspired by our College of Monarchs that came before us. They created the oldest LGBTQ+ organization in Oregon and since then we have helped to create and fund many services and organizations that this community holds dear.

PT: Chance, I noticed you were running uncontested. How did this have an effect on your campaigning for the title of Emperor? Did you find that you could relax more, or did you have to step up your game?

CdeV: I wanted to run my campaign as if there was competition. The community expects and more importantly deserves it. This was a way for me to give a preview as to what is to come this year. Having run before, I knew what is expected and why it is important to get out and engage the community you will be serving. 

PT: JenuWine Beauté, who were the other contestants to the throne, and did you find it particularly challenging to run against them?

JWB: There was one other candidate for the position. Her name is Shima B. Valentine. Whenever one competes for a competition it is always tough. This campaign is unlike many people have ever experienced. You put a ton of heart, soul, money, and determination into showing your community that they should elect you to represent. Shima was quite the competitor and definitely brought a strong campaign to the competition. The most challenging aspect is the fact of not knowing how you are doing or which way the votes will go. It really makes you anxious to know the results. 

PT: How long have you been involved with the Rose Court and/or participating in other pageants? What titles have you each held previously, and from where? 

JWB: My involvement with the Rose Court has been 6 years, however I have been involved in the International Court System for 20 years. I have held a few titles here and there. LaFemme Magnifique Tacoma 2001-2002, Miss Gay Tacoma 2002-2003, Empress XXV of Tacoma, LaFemme Magnifique Olympia, Miss Gay Oregon XLV, and now Rose Empress LXI. 

CdeV: This year marks 20 years of involvement with the Imperial Court System.  In 2001 I was crowned Thorn XXV of Portland, in 2005 I ran and won the title of Mr. Gay Portland XXX and in 2016 I was appointed Imperial Prince Royale XLII. I am the third person to elevate to the position of Rose Emperor from the Portland Youth Court. His Most Imperial Majesty, Rose Emperor XLIII, The Nobility of the Rose, Dr. Chance de Valmont.

PT:  Are either of you affiliated with any other LGBTQ organizations, and if so, what will holding the Emperor and Empress titles bring to these other organizations?  

JWB: I personally have participated in a few other organizations by attending their events and helping their organization. Some of those include but not limited to are as follows; Oregon Reign Football, Rose City Bowling League, HIV Day Center, and more. Reigning as Rose Empress LXI allows me the position in our community to help make a difference to those organizations on a broader scale. Leading the ISRC with my Rose Emperor, we are able to ask our constituents to volunteer/donate to this other organizations to truly unite all aspects of our diverse community. 

CdeV: My partner Ty VanHelsing and I head the world’s oldest LGBTQ+ Youth Court. It is my intention to bring more exposure to this amazing group of youth leaders by inclusion and community presents.

PT: I know reaching out, activism, giving back to the community is important to both of you–& important for those running. Did you establish a platform together? Or did you come up with individual ideas then meld the two together? 

JWB: We came up with our own platforms separately. We each have a passion to support our local queer businesses. We both worked on our own platforms and then after we were crowned, have been working together as a team to achieve our goals. 

CdeV: After sitting down with one another and many conversations it is clear that my Empress and I have the drive for community, inclusion and charity. It’s just the right thing to do.

PT: I know that traveling and taking time off of work has an effect on your jobs, so how do you work around that type of situation?

JWB: Luckily for me, traveling is my job. I’m a flight attendant for a living. The tricky part about that is I’m constantly traveling for work. This makes it a tad difficult when wanting to represent in the city during the weekdays, yet when I’m home in Portland, I definitely make sure I do my best to represent wherever I am able. 

CdeV: Recently I made a career move to go back to education. It happens to mesh very well with the obligations of this position. Weekends and holidays off. I am able to travel in the evenings and attend local events. Also summers off never hurt anyone. 

PT: Speaking of travel: we saw you went to Hawaii a few weeks ago. What was that like? 

JWB: Indeed we sure did. It was The Imperial Court of Hawaii’s annual Coronation. It was our very first walk together as the reigning Rose Monarchs of Portland. We were instantly greeted with the Aloha spirit from the moment we arrived until the time we left. The Rose Court members present represented Portland so beautéfully that we were awarded Hawaii’s highest honor of the night. The Teddy Award for Best Overall Presentation. An honor we both will cherish and remember. We also created lasting memories with the newest Monarchs of Hawai’i, Emperor Keoki Nalu Nunies and Empress Averianna Jewel Nunies! They are excited about making a journey to our City of Roses for Coronation on October 14th-18th. Hawaii was a great beginning for our reign. 

CdeV: I think my Empress covered this one for both us.

PT: Has it been decided how many other coronations will you be traveling to, and is there a calendar of events that people can check out to see what’s happening in the LGBTQ community? 

JWB: We have a tentative list of Coronations we plan/hope to attend during the year. We also have plans to attend local events here in Portland as well. Your readers may follow along on our Facebook group or they can become a member of our organization for the year on the Rose Court’s membership page. These are just a couple ways for members to follow along. 

CdeV: Yes, we do have quite this list of events here in the States, Canada and Mexico. We will be spreading the message of love, charity and community in more than 20 cities this year. My Empress mentioned our local webpage but also check out the International Court System and the Imperial Court System for more information.

PT: Perhaps, what issues you most wish to focus on over the course of the next year? 

JWB: We’d like to focus on raising funds through partnerships with local queer owned businesses and organizations. 

CdeV:  I will second my empresses statement but also would like to focus on community engagement and youth participation in the organization.

PT: Lastly, is there anything you’d care to add? 

JWB: We want to let everyone know that you may get involved by attending any of our monthly meetings. They take place the first Monday of every month (unless it’s a holiday) at Darcelle XV Showplace 208 NW 3rd Ave at 7pm. Attendance is free. We invite one and all to come check out our organization and see what we are about. We’d also like to thank Proud Times for this amazing opportunity to be featured. It’s very much appreciated. Thank you Portland and we look forward to seeing you out and about in our Beautéful community. 

CdeV: If any of the readers have further questions, comments or want to get involved please check out our website Rose Court. Thank you to Proud Times for this interview and taking this opportunity to get to know about our organization. And remember “For you in Portland a rose grows.”

With any news or information related to the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court please contact our CEO, Jewell Harrington, III at proudtimesmagCEO@gmail.com & he’ll get back to you as soon as possible.