It’s taken a lifetime but Stanley Doran is about to live his dream.
The 85-year-old former amateur boxer and deliveryman for “the Mob” is set to make his stage debut as a drag queen.
Doran (pictured with his coach Fagulous) kept his sexuality a secret for decades, growing up at a time when male homosexuality was a crime.
That was in Paddington, London when, he told Ham and High, you either became a bank robber or a boxer.
He chose the latter, going on to spar with 1956 Olympic gold medallist Terry Spinks and featherweight champion Sammy McCarthy.
But all the while his attraction to men was hidden behind a tough-guy exterior.
“Back then people were treated as criminals. It was depressing. It was tough,” Doran said.
And now, he will be realising a lifelong dream, performing as a drag queen for the first time.
— Ham and High (@HamandHigh) March 19, 2018
“I’ve always dreamt of doing it, but never thought I could. But if you want to do something, give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose.”
Doran will perform dressed in a royal blue sequin gown, red wig, feather boa and wedges at Camden venue Her Upstairs as “Shirley Blue”.
He is coached by cabaret artist Fagulous, aka Niall Hunt, who along with Doran’s drama teacher Rosie Litterick kitted him out on a visit to Camden Market.
“We transformed him from an 85-year-old man into the drag queen diva he is. He’s a natural who knows how to make an audience laugh. I’ve got so much confidence in him,” Fagulous said.
On the night, Doran becomes Fagulous’s “fabulous assistant” and duets with the 22-year-old singing Shirley Bassey number Kiss Me Honey Honey (Kiss Me).
Doran is taking part in a project aimed at getting older people more active in the community. It was set up with the support of Highgate’s Jackson’s Lane theatre and funded by a Heritage Big Lottery grant.
“A lot of LGBT culture is focused on youth. It’s amazing: this project helps give an older generation a stronger voice. It’s poignant as a sign of how far we’ve come as a society,” Fagulous said.
“It’s going to be a very special show.”