Exhibit Number

17

17 February 2021, 23:00:00

17

Image Credits:

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.

Robert (Bobbie) Papagiorcopulo was one of Malta's best female impersonators. He enjoyed playing the part of the diminutive Carmen Miranda. Decked in a skirt, a bra, a large hat topped with bananas, a Brazilian-style vest and castanets in hand, he tried his best to be as funny and zany as the great lady herself. He was especially fond of songs like "I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi, (I Love You Very Much)", "A Week-end in Havanna" and "Chica Chica Boom Chic".


Bobbie, a highly accomplished pianist, could not read or write music. He played the piano at the Lucky Wheel, the Silver Horse, the New Life and the Egyptian Queen, all at Strait Street in Valletta. He worked at the Brittania Restaurant in Lucy Street, Valletta from midday until two o'clock in the afternoon, and performed at Floriana's Palladium, the British Empire, the Flagship and the Klondyke.


Crowds of sailors converged on Bobbie as he played the piano. He attracted many sailors. They all loved him. Hey played and sang for them. Some of Malta's best musicians went to listen to him.


Bobbie left Malta for the UK and settled in Plymouth where he reportedly married a German woman and worked at a casino and the Mechanics Arms, later a gay bar. He also worked in nightclubs across Devon. He died at Plymouth, aged 83 or thereabouts.

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.