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Darcelle XV, oldest drag queen in the world, reflects on life and 'Darcelle: The Musical'

"The highlight is to be who you are," Walter Cole said.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The life of Walter Cole, more commonly known for his stage name as Darcelle XV," hits the stage this month in "Darcelle: The Musical."

Walter Cole, 89, was recently named the oldest drag queen in the world and has performed in Portland for decades.

He said he hopes the musical bearing his stage name captures the spirit of who he is, and what he had to do to get there.

Cole was born in 1930 in Linnton, Ore. He moved to Portland, where he worked at the Multnomah Athletic Club as a teenager, and eventually joined the Army. 

RELATED: Walter 'Darcelle XV' Cole named world's oldest drag queen by Guinness

He worked at Fred Meyer, where he worked his way up the chain to management, and married a woman.

However, he -- in his own words -- had to "come to grips with who I am."

"I was lying. I told my wife I was gay after I told her I met Roxy Neuhardt [Cole's partner in life and business]. If I hadn’t met the two of them, there wouldn’t be a Darcelle. The highlight is, be who you are," Cole said.

Cole said he's wanted more from life all along.

“I think wanting more, I grew up in Linnton in company houses, I just wanted more out of life," Cole said. "I wanted more than just what I see happening with some of my uncles. They were older, retired, sat down on couch and that was it."

Cole said he's excited to be memorialized on the stage along with some other big names.

“It’s exciting to me because I was in London and I saw 'Tina the Musical' and 'Cher the Musical' and now we’re gonna see 'Darcelle the Musical'!" he said.

The musical opened Sept. 19 and you can find tickets online. It runs through Oct. 5 at Portland State University's Lincoln Performance Hall. 

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