Portland's premier 80-year-old drag queen Darcelle XV was resplendent last night as she gave a show much different than her usual showtune-belting, assless chaps-bearing performance at her iconic Old Town club. On the fourth floor of Powell's Books, Darcelle read from her new autobiography, Just Call Me Darcelle, which tells the story of how a rural Oregon boy named Walter Cole grew up into a much revered queen.

"This whole book is precious to me," said Cole, decked out in a signature red sequined dress and fake diamond everything. The night brought actual laughs and actual tears from Cole, who recalled growing up with his aunt and grandma after his mom died and his dad became an alcoholic.

I haven't actually read Cole's book (which was written with help from Sharon Knorr), but the pieces he read aloud last night were fun and punchy. The prose is not too florid and Cole's fabulous, improbable life is packed with good stories for the choosing. My favorite comes on page 37, when Cole and his family drove into Portland and passed a woman standing on a street corner.
"My grandma pointed to her and said, 'Look! A whore!'
'Whore, grandma? Whore? How do you know?' I asked.
'Well, look, lipstick,' said my Grandma, with the voice of God.'
'Lipstick, Grandma? Lipstick!' And I pressed my face against the car window to get a better look.
She leaned down and whispered clearly in my ear, 'Walter, lipstick is made from prisoners' blood!'"