“I’m a Man in a Dress, and I’m Not Afraid to Show That”

“Beautiful by Night” captures the transformations of San Francisco’s veteran drag queens.

Olivia (a.k.a. Frank) says that drag is both a screen and a way of shedding her skin.James Hosking

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On a Saturday afternoon, Olivia Hart gets dressed in her pay-by-the-week hotel room before heading out to Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, one of the last gay bars in San Francisco’s tough Tenderloin neighborhood. Fifty-four-year-old Olivia is one of several veteran drag performers profiled in Beautiful by Night, a documentary and photo series by filmmaker and photographer James Hosking. Olivia (a.k.a. Frank) says that drag is both a screen and a way of shedding her skin. “Olivia and I are pretty much one and the same,” she says. But, she adds, “my thing is not being a female illusionist where I look dead-on like a woman. I’m a man in a dress, and I’m not afraid to show that.”

Beautiful By Night by James Hosking


Gustavo holds a photo of himself as Donna Personna. James Hosking

Gustavo puts on breast pads. James Hosking

Gustavo transforms into Donna. James Hosking

Donna in her apartment. James Hosking

Collette LeGrande. James Hosking

Collette in her apartment. James Hosking

Frank becomes Olivia Hart in his hotel room. James Hosking

Frank applies fake eyelashes. James Hosking

Frank, mid-transformation, pauses for a cigarette. James Hosking

Olivia, on her way to Aunt Charlie’s. James Hosking

Olivia nears Aunt Charlie’s Lounge. James Hosking

Donna makes her way down Turk Street prior to the show. James Hosking

Olivia fixes her jewelry backstage. James Hosking

Donna gets ready for the show. James Hosking

Donna prior to her number. James Hosking

Collette makes a final check before her performance. James Hosking

Collette performs “Sunny” by Boney M.


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