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53459.  Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:04 am Reply with quote

J Edgar Hoover wasn't one, according to Garrick. What else you got?

53835.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:57 am Reply with quote

Pope Joan wasn't a 'reverse one' either.

Frederick The Monk
53912.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:22 am Reply with quote

Pope Joan simply wasn't.

54116.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:36 pm Reply with quote

No Reds under his bed ... but ...

"Come hither ..."

"He ['Mary' Hoover] was wearing a fluffy black dress, very fluffy, with flounces and lace stockings and high heels, and a black curly wig, he had makeup on and false eyelashes [...]


The sole 'authority' for the J Edgar Hoover 'transvestite' claim is Anthony Summers, a maverick historian who decided to take on the big problems of post-WWII parapolitics. He began with Stephen Ward and MI5 (in 'Honeytrap'), then went on to JFK ('Conspiracy' - still one of the better pro-conspiracy books, despite some Garrisonisms) and Nixon ('The Arrogance of Power').

My copy of his 'Official and Confidential: The Private Life of J Edgar Hoover' (1993) is enboxed somewhere, but I shall retrieve it soon and post bits from it.

This hostile review from March 1993 about sums it up for the transvestite claim:

" In general, in my opinion, in areas of disagreement [Richard] Powers's work [biography of Hoover, 1978] is better researched and more reliable than Summers's. Except, perhaps, on the biggest disagreement of all...: the sex life of J. Edgar Hoover. Powers found no convincing evidence to prove the widely held belief that Hoover was a homosexual; Summers presents an abundance of evidence to show that he was.... Summers's most sensational charge is that Hoover was a transvestite. His source is Susan Rosenstiel."

Needless to say, the idea that a man as butt-ugly as Hoover enjoyed dressing as a woman was heavily puffed pre-launch and added much to the gaiety of nations.

However, caveat thing and all that. It's based on a single uncorroborated source who also happens to be a convicted perjurer. One shouldn't prejudge convicted perjurers, of course, but it does cast doubt on their reliability.

But no photos, no other eyewitnesses, no previous suggestion that this might be the case -- all in all the 'Hoover transvestite' claim is just well-known because we like to think mischevous things about the self-appointed guardians of society. Did I mention that Hoover was exceedingly ugly, btw ..?

More here:

Now, if only someone could think of dressing up this fact in a nice silky question, we've got a damn good general ignorance question on our hands ...

54125.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:49 pm Reply with quote

Wikipedia has this:
Speculation and rumors that Hoover was a homosexual have been suggested, but no concrete evidence of these claims has ever been presented. Such rumors have circulated since at least the early 1940's: an FBI memorandum dated June 11, 1943, reports on a woman spreading gossip of Hoover being "queer" and keeping "a large group of young boys around him." The memo reports the woman said she had overheard conversation at an adjoining restaurant in Baltimore in 1941. The additional allegation that he was also a crossdresser is generally considered to be an urban legend.

Hoover's right-hand man, Clyde Tolson, was a constant companion for more than 40 years, with the pair often vacationing together. Both were lifelong bachelors, with Hoover living with his mother until her death in 1938.

Tolson's grave is next to Hoover's, too.

There's a Straight Dope column on all this at, which dismisses the cross-dressing outright but is agnostic on the homosexuality.

54130.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:54 pm Reply with quote

From what we know of Hoover's private life, I can well believe that he was far too weird to have any sex whatsoever and that in Tolson he found someone as repressed and agonised as himself. We may never know, but if you ask anyone to tell you what they know about Hoover, the transvestite thing always crops up. As an experiment I tried it on four separate people today. Three of them said 'transvestite' immediately and the fourth (when reminded who Hoover was) said: "Didn't he dress up weirdly?" (*sigh*)

54154.  Tue Feb 21, 2006 4:59 pm Reply with quote

Which is grist to our mill.

54266.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:59 am Reply with quote

According to the Bryan Burrough book I mention in the Dillinger thread, the rumour about Hoover’s orientation first appeared in print in 1933, in a profile in Collier’s magazine. “He dresses fastidiously, with Eleanor blue as the favored color for the matched shades of tie, handkerchief and socks ... he is short, fat, businesslike, and walks with mincing step.” If that had been said about Liberace, he’d have sued.

As far I understand, his homosexual orientation (if not practice - he was, I agree, surely too weird for sex) was universally assumed more or less from the off.

On transvestism - Professor Jimmy Edwards wasn’t, I don’t think, but there is some connection with him, in the back of my mind, which I’ve been unable to pin down the hem of. Was his husband a cross-dresser?

Of course, all this TV/gay stuff about Hoover serves to distract - as perhaps it is meant to - from the real story of his life: that he was a monstrous tyrant, founder of America’s KGB, originally hired to smash the US labour movement, using whatever means he found necessary, and that he (with some success) destroyed dissidents, individually and collectively, for many decades, was party to countless murders and other crimes, and in doing so played a leading role in the death of US democracy. And if you say “Hoover” to anyone, they say “He wore dresses.”

I’ll get on with my work now ...

54283.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:55 am Reply with quote

So the question is:

Q: What was J Edgar Hoover's guilty secret?

F: He wore frocks / invented the vacuum cleaner / vacuumed in a frock
A: He killed US democracy (etc)

54294.  Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:23 am Reply with quote

I've got obscure links on the brain today, but Dillinger did - almost - hoover in a frock. From the aforementioned Burrough book: "Dillinger kept the guns in a locked closet and handled the cleaning chores, wrapping a towel around his waist as he scrubbed the dishes and ran a dust mop over the floors. Hands on hips, Billie and Mary would watch in awe; Dillinger explained that cleaning was a habit he learned in prison."

64609.  Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:18 am Reply with quote

In which book do you find Gloria, the Fantabulosa Fairy and the Good Dorcas?

That is God, the Holy Ghost and the Good Samaritan in the Polari Bible written by The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (gay men in habits) who use Polari for masses and ceremonies.

Polari is a sort of gay Esperanto, a weird amalgam of Yiddish, Italian, Spanish, Occitan (a hybrid of Spanish and French), Cant (the secret language of thieves and outlaws), Romany, Cockney rhyming slang, backslang and lingua franca (the old pidgin language of Mediterranean traders and seafarers).

Polari words that are still used include DRAG (clothes) naff (made popular by the sitcom, Porridge), bevvy, mankey (bad), chav (child), savvy and scarper. Polari was a constantly evolving form of language until the late 19060’s when it fell into disuse.

Polari was adopted by gay men from the 1900’s onwards and was especially popular in the 1950’s when homosexuality was still criminalised. It was most popular in the theatre and show business, ballet and the circus. It was a kind of code, which enabled one gay man to identify another, allowed them to express themselves publicly without fear of arrest or reprisal and provided a vocabulary for talking about gay sexuality.

Polari words are mostly Italian in origin, perhaps brought over by sailors and mixed up with travelling folk jargon, or else from the number of Italians who came to Britain in the early 19th C, especially the Punch and Judy showmen and organ grinders on the 1840’s.

Morrisey wrote an album called Bona Drag, meaning, nice outfit. One of the tracks is called ‘Piccadilly Palare’. It was released in 1990, then Polari underwent a little revival.

The most famous users of Polari were Julian and Sandy (played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams) in the 1960s BBC radio comedy show, Round The Horne (written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman). However, it has also been used in the past by Julian Clary, Larry Grayson, Peter Wyngarde, and in a Jon Pertwee episode of Dr Who (Carnival of Monsters).

The dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang has just been published, the last similar project was The Queens Lexicon, in 1972.

What does ‘palone vadas omi palone very cod’ mean? That woman is giving me a dirty look.

A recent concept is hagism. Fag-hag, we all know, but there is now drag-hag (who like drag queens), stag hags (who like straight men), spag hags (who like Italian men) and even tag hags (who like designer clothes).

64610.  Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:21 am Reply with quote

Apologies to Chris, last post was Molly, he is signed in on my computer.

64679.  Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:41 am Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
Apologies to Chris, last post was Molly, he is signed in on my computer.

So, not Chris in a dress, then ..? :¬)

Anyway. Flash pointed out that if transvestism wasn't Hoover's secret, then we ought to have a genuine secret that he did have (if you follow me). This seems to do the job nicely (even the headline is nickable).

64708.  Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:31 pm Reply with quote

Oh, that just couldn't be more perfect, could it? Hmm - now you come to think of it, Richard Nixon was rather dark about the gills, wasn't he ... ?


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