These were the songs that struggling young drag performers lip-synched to in dank gay bars and cabarets. These were the songs that stood in for declarations of your desire for same-sex passion. These were the songs we drank to, laughed at, and often called our own. Share your favorites in the comments section below.
Beatrice Lillie: "There's a Faerie in the Bottom of My Garden," 1924
Lady Peel, as she was known to her many homosexual admirers, Noël Coward among them, was the queen of drop-dead dry delivery. Everyone knew the double and triple entendres foisted here.
Johnnie Ray: "Cry," 1951
Johhnie Ray was a beautiful disaster. Drinking and drugging buddy of Judy Garland (he was the best man at her last wedding to gay man, Mickey Deans), he was a bundle of raw emotions and delirium tremens, but what a delivery.
June Christy: "Something Cool," 1954
The best alcoholic anthem ever about delusions of grandeur and promiscuity.
Yma Sumac: "Tumpa"(or anything she recorded), 1954
Space goddess from the Planet Mary, Yma Sumac is still uncategorizable. But to see her recordings being lip-synched to by a tattered Latina drag queen at a low-rent bar is to know God.
Johnny Mathis: "Misty," 1959
Lady Miss Mathis held out for a few centuries before he finally dropped the giant hairpin. His voice defined a smoother-than-glass era of echo chambers and backup choruses. How did anyone not know?
Lesley Gore: "You Don't Own Me," 1963
Her proto-feminist pop song should have been a clue about where her real love life was headed. Lesley is one of our own, and this is a near-perfect musical moment.
Shirley Bassey: "I Who Have Nothing," 1963
She who must be obeyed, Dame Bassey was the queen of thwarted, anguished passion — and belting. No microphone needed.
Vikki Carr: "It Must Be Him," 1967
Knuckle-biting codependence set to music.
Peggy Lee: "Is That All There Is," 1969
Peggy Lee is the undisputed queen of the smoky lounge voice. If you are going to hit bottom on booze and dope, here is the musical background. Just play it over and over till you're dead.
Paul Anka: "You're Having My Baby," 1974
Heterosexual camp. Cringe-worthy from its release date.
Dolly Parton: "The Bargain Store," 1976
Secondhand meaning not quite so fresh. Previously owned. Tatterdemalion.
Ethel Merman: Disco version, "Everything's Coming Up Roses," 1979
Cole Porter's favorite singer also singlehandedly killed disco.