Looking for info on drag queen Kelly King

Anybody out there in Instant Tea Land know what became of a drag queen called Kelly King from Louisville, Ky.?

I got an e-mail today from David Williams of the Williams-Nichols Institute Inc., which is the corporate sponsor of the Williams-Nichols Archive and Library for LGBT Studies at the University of Louisville. They are trying to gather information on Kelly King, a drag queen who was profiled in the Louisville Times’ Scene Magazine on April 8. 1978. Apparently, the article set off what Williams calls “a firestorm of angry letters” from readers, an incident that has become, he said, “one of the earliest landmarks in Louisville LGBT history.”

From what Williams has heard, King has since died and is buried somewhere in the Louisville area. But they haven’t been able to verify that, and if she is buried there, they don’t know where. Here’s what they have heard:

1. Kelly King’s birth name was supposedly Rex Altman. He graduated from Doss High School in the Okolona area of Louisville in 1971 or 1972. Kelly King performed drag for several years at the old Odyssey club in Louisville and some other clubs. She apparently performed with Cissy Blake (Darrell Robinson), and Cissy Blake may have been the one who got Kelly King into the drag business.

2. By the late 1980s, Kelly King had moved to Pensacola, Fla., and continued to perform there. They have video of her performing at a 1988 AIDS benefit in Pensacola for the group EASE.

3. From Pensacola, Kelly King reportedly moved to San Francisco where she was murdered sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Her body was returned to Louisville and she was buried there “in her favorite black dress.”

And here’s what they want to know:

1. Where is Kelly King’s grave?

2. Did anyone attend her funeral and/or burial?

3. What is her date of death?

4. Does she have any family still living in the Louisville area?

I know there isn’t an obvious North Texas link to this story, but hey, drag queens travel all over to perform, and I know back in the early 1980s, performers from all over used to come to Dallas to perform at Joe Elliott’s bar, The Landing. Maybe Kelly King had fans here? Or maybe somebody who lives here now used to live in Louisville, or Pensacola, or San Francisco, and knew her and has information on what became of Kelly King. Plus, we do have readers all over the country who might see this post, too, and be able to help out with some info.

Anybody who knows anything is asked to contact the archives by e-mail at KyArchives@aol.com or WillnlCH@aol.com.

And here’s the video of Kelly King performing to raise money for EASE at Snoopy’s (which later became Fantasy, which burned down).

—  admin