Who Does That Bitch Think She Is?: Doris Fish and the Rise of Drag

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Feb. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781541702165. $29. HIST
Philip Mills, born in Australia in 1952, became known as the drag performer Doris Fish in Sydney’s evolving gay community of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1975, the performer moved to San Francisco. Seligman (Sontag and Kael) has written a perceptive portrait of this fascinating person who, in addition to leading the Sluts-a-Go-Go drag troupe, was a visual artist, a model for a line of humorous greeting cards, a gifted makeup stylist, and a beloved member of a large family, both biological and found. Interviews with friends and family, letters, and personal recollections of Philip/Doris and the milieu of the 1970s and 1980s in San Francisco and Sydney bring them to life on the page. Interwoven throughout is the history of drag and Doris’s role in its acceptance into the mainstream. The frightening and tragic impact of AIDS in the late 1980s is explored, as the subject of this gripping biography died of complications of AIDS in 1991.
VERDICT This honest and compassionate depiction of someone who was true to their passions will inspire readers, especially those interested in LGBTQIA+ history.
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