For Tyler Perry's Birthday, a Comprehensive History of Black Men in Drag

Categories: Film and TV

That's a man, baby.
Happy birthday, Tyler Perry. The media mogul is celebrating his 41st with the news that he topped Forbes list of highest paid men in entertainment:

Thanks to five movies he has cranked out over the past two years and two TV series, Perry earned $130 million between May 2010 and May 2011, which ranks him as the highest-earning man in entertainment for that time period.

Perry has written, directed, produced or acted in nine movies since 2008, appearing in four of them as the brassy, gun-toting grandmother Madea. It's a role fraught with controversy, with some in the African-American community likening the "Madea" character to the minstrel shows of old and others, including Oprah Winfrey, lauding Perry for celebrating "strong, black women."

Being a weak white man myself, I don't know anything about all of that. I'd merely like to wish the man a happy birthday (and slip in a plug for my spec script, Madea vs. Predator), by taking a look back at Perry's fellow African-American drag performers.

12. Flip Wilson -- "Geraldine" (The Flip Wilson Show)
Like Madea, Geraldine rises above mere caricature by usually besting her adversaries, even ones like The Greatest.

11. Eddie Murphy -- "Rasputia" (Norbit), "Mama Klump/Granny Klump" (The Nutty Professor, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps)
I'm not sure why Murphy gets so much crap for remaking movies like TNP and Dr. Dolittle when Steve Martin gets off the hook for the same crimes. It might be because Norbit is one of the worst movies of all time.

10. RuPaul Andre Charles -- "RuPaul"
Wait, this dude's name is actually "RuPaul"? Poor kid never had a chance.

9. T.K. Carter -- "Regina" (He's My Girl)
I'm not sure which fate was worse, getting killed by Thing Blair in The Thing or disguising himself as a woman so he could accompany his friend on a cross-country trip to California (don't ask) in this long-forgotten 1987 flick.

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