‘Oldest drag queen performer’ sells costumes in Toronto

One of Canada’s oldest and best-known drag queens is putting her special collection of dresses, costumes and jewelry on sale this weekend.

Russell Alldread, 90, has been a drag queen across Canada for 70 years.

“I’ve always loved Halloweens and all the occasions to dress up. I loved being on stage,” he told CTV News Toronto on Monday.

Over the decades, Alldread has primarily played the role of Drag Queen Michelle DuBarry, often raising money at charity fundraisers. He even claimed a Guinness World Record as the “oldest drag queen performer.”

Alldread shows signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia, but is physically healthy and still remembers the glory days of being Michelle.

“It was pretty exciting. Being on a stage with 5,000 people up front.

Russell Alldread is seen in this photo taken April 26, 2022. (Beth Macdonell/CTV News Toronto)

This winter, Alldread moved from her Toronto apartment to a house. Hundreds of her outfits, dresses and personal items have all been put away.

Now they are coming out again for other people and drag queens to cherish and enjoy.

The big sale takes place at the Village, in the ballroom of the 519 Community Center on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Most of the pieces available were made by Alldread, who learned to sew very early in his life.

“I started making my own clothes and everything. I loved designing. I loved drawing. I loved making costumes,” he said.

Longtime friend and power of attorney Carolyn Kelly arranges the sale.

She said some special items from the collection will go to the LGBTQ Archives, the Toronto Archives and the Archives in her hometown of Bowmanville, but many items will be affordable, priced below $75.

A certificate naming Russell Alldread as “oldest drag queen performer” can be seen here.

Kelly says the proceeds from the sale will go to Alldread.

“They take a piece of history, LGBTQ history, especially handmade items,” Kelly said.

Alldread said he thought passing on the specials and the sale was a good idea.

He said being Michelle and acting and meeting so many people had been his life.