Exhibit Number

19

20 February 2021, 23:00:00

19

Image Credits:

Source: Chetcuti, J. C. (2009). Queer Mediterranean Memories - penetrating the secret history and silence of gay and lesbian disguise in the Maltese archipelago. Australia: Lygon Street Legal Services.

Cookie (Carmel b. 1924) was born into a poor and very religious working class family.  He was a relative of St. Ġorg Preca (his grandfather's brother). Cookie's father died at the age of 25 and his mother, Sylvia, remarried in 1933 to an English sailor whom she had met in the early 30s at the Klondyke where she worked as a barmaid.


Cookie signed up with the Royal Navy and was stationed at Naples, Beirut, Alexandra and Malta. He left the Navy in 1946. He worked as a waiter in Strat Street's Cairo Bar. Together with his brother, he moved in with their grandmother after their stepfather tossed them out.


After the Navy, Cookie returned to the bars as a female impersonator. He performed his last floor show in 1956. Cookie and Bobbie often teamed up together. Cookie boasted a trim waist and a "nice pair of legs". According to him, Bobbie was envious of his physique.


Cookie order his wigs from overseas. He wore swimsuits on stage and relished the chance to show off his figure. Cookie was particularly fond of the Carnival dances. He relished those at Hamrun's Radio City Opera House and Valletta's Embassy and Savoy Theatres.


He last wore drag in 1963 at a ball at Valletta's Embassy. Cookie put his heart and soul into his work. Each night at 7pm he put on his make-up, an art he had learnt from Bobbie and Sugar. He was paid a weekly salary of between £4 and £7 from which he paid for costumes, wigs, shoes, stockings and of course make-up. He also took a percentage of what sailors spent on him. Cookie cared little for money: "I was happy so long as I danced".

Cookie, the last of the great of Malta's post-war female impersonators, was found dead at his Floriana home in Capuchini Street in November 2005.

Source: Chetcuti, J. C. (2009). Queer Mediterranean Memories - penetrating the secret history and silence of gay and lesbian disguise in the Maltese archipelago. Australia: Lygon Street Legal Services.