Sometimes, the truth is stranger than fiction.
England’s first LGBTQ Historic Site is currently crowdfunding in order to keep its doors open past the pandemic. And in its time of need, the establishment has reminded everyone of two historic figures who partied within its walls.
We’re talking of the unknown tale of Freddie Mercury and Princess Diana in drag, as reported by Out Magazine. However, the story was originally told back in 2014. And the original storyteller? It was none other than British comedian Cleo Rocos. In 2014, Rocos released her autobiography. That autobiography was later serialized in the Sunday Times. Within that life story, Rocos recalled becoming friends with TV comic Kenny Everett. Through Everett, she became close to Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. And one night, she went barhopping with Mercury and Diana, the Princess of Wales.
According to Rocos’ retelling, Freddie convinced the princess to join him for a drink at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Rocos, of course, joined them. But to get Diana through the door and in the crowd unnoticed, the group decided to have Diana dress up as a man. They dressed the princess in an army coat, leather cap, and some of Freddie’s mirrored aviator shades.
“Scrutinising her in the half light we decided that the most famous icon of the modern world might just – just – pass for a rather eccentrically dressed gay male model,” Rocos wrote.
From there, it was all about getting inside and having fun!
“The place was full,” Rocos recalled. “It took an absolute eon to edge our way to the bar, with person after person cheerfully greeting us. It was fabulously outrageous and so bizarrely exciting. Our hearts pounded with every new leather-clad hairy body that approached, but no one, absolutely no-one, recognised Diana.”
Rocos then added that the moment felt exciting and fresh. The group was truly getting away with something.
“On we inched, through the leather throngs and thongs, until finally we reached the bar. We were nudging each other like naughty schoolchildren. Diana and Freddie were giggling, but she did order a white wine and a beer. Once the transaction was completed, we looked at one another, united in our triumphant quest. We did it!”
But, the group didn’t stay long, according to Rocos. They decided to get out while they still had the chance.
“Never has going to a bar been quite so exhilarating and fun,” she concluded. “We then made a swift exit, a cab was hailed and we whisked Diana back to Kensington Palace. The jolly queens queuing outside unknowingly waved back as their ‘queen of hearts’ waved goodbye. Not a single person ever found us out.”
Saving A Historic Site
This is just one of the many events and goings-on at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. As such, it was deemed England’s first LGBTQ Historic Site back in 2015. But like many other gay/queer establishments during the pandemic, the venue is facing the possibility of closure and eviction. Plus, the venue does not qualify for grants announced by the government and is expecting a reduced income once social distancing measures loosen. The RVT is now crowdfunding to raise £50,000 to help it stay afloat, according to Time Out.
“We have decided to set up a GoFundMe page so that people who want to and are able to make a contribution, can now do so,” the venue announced. “All monies donated will be put towards our high operating costs and the fabric upkeep of the building. We want to continue to provide a truly diverse platform and range of LGBTQ+ events with all our wonderful associated artists.”
Our thoughts are with the business and we hope that the legendary establishment pulls through in this difficult time.