Hampstead pensioner, 85, who hid sexuality for decades, prepares for drag queen performance

Mr Doran on Jackson's Lane's stage gets into character as "Shirley Blue", his drag alter ego. Pictur

Mr Doran on Jackson's Lane's stage gets into character as "Shirley Blue", his drag alter ego. Picture: JON KING - Credit: Archant

An 85-year-old former amateur boxer who kept his sexuality a secret for decades is to take to the stage as a drag queen.

Stanley Doran at Jackson's Lane, Highgate. Picture: JON KING

Stanley Doran at Jackson's Lane, Highgate. Picture: JON KING - Credit: Archant

Stanley Doran, who lives in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead, grew up at a time when male homosexuality was a crime.

He was born in Paddington when, he said, 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.

After wartime evacuations to Wales and Watford he returned to London taking on a number of jobs including acting as a deliveryman for the mob.

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,” Mr Doran said.

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But in a sign of how times have changed, the bachelor is now preparing to perform dressed in a royal blue sequin gown, red wig, feather boa and wedges at Camden venue Her Upstairs as “Shirley Blue”.

Mr Doran, who survived colon and prostate cancer, said: “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.”

The theatre-lover was coached by cabaret artist Fagulous, aka Niall Hunt, who along with Mr 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,” Mr Hunt said.

On the night Mr Doran becomes Fagulous’s “fabulous assistant” and duets with the 22-year-old singing Shirley Bassey number Kiss Me Honey Honey (Kiss Me).

Mr 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.

Mr Hunt said: “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.

“It’s going to be a very special show,” he added.

As for nerves, Mr Doran, a member of the Older Bolder drama group who will not be taking part in a dress rehearsal before Wednesday’s show, said his only fear is fluffing his lines.

And on the lure of the stage he said: “You can be anyone you want to be.”

For more details of the Jackson’s Lane project email participation@jacksonslane.org

To book tickets to see Mr Doran in A Night with Fagulous visit Outsavvy.com