Our Gang’s Drag Fun

| Feb 18, 2019
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By Zoe Zyzzyx

He-Man Woman-Haters Club?

Our Gang, also known interchangeably as The Little Rascals, is what you might call a young boys’ network. Throughout the many cast changes over the decades the Rascals maintained a roster of all boys plus one token girl. This formula provided many opportunities for innocent crossdressing for these charming tykes.

Buckwheat in frills with Spanky.

There was some gender bending behind the scenes as Farina’s stage mother had the lad dress as a girl for the audition for Hal Roach, the producer. History would repeat itself a few years later when Buckwheat’s mother would do the same to him for his audition. Buckwheat, however, would actually play a girl for several episodes. Buckwheat’s costume was usually loose fitting and rather unisex styled. However, in Shrimps For a Day Buckwheat did get something frilly to wear!

The first time drag worked its way into an Our Gang comedy is in the silent short Baby Clothes. Two of the boys, Mickey and Joe, have been bribed into helping a shifty couple swindle their rich uncle. If the couple can convince the uncle that Mickey is his little niece and Joe, a rather portly little boy, is his baby nephew the uncle could be coerced into giving the couple a bigger allowance. Complicating this little scheme is a midget who likes to masquerade as an infant, a little boy who develops a crush on the feminized Mickey and Mickey himself who can’t keep his pants rolled up underneath his skirt!

Spud is a Little Rascal who seems to enjoy dressing. In Choo Choo, the Rascals take the place of orphans on a train ride. Spud taunts a little girl passenger and she chases him out of sight. When the two return, a few minutes later, it is apparent they have made up because they return in each other’s clothes! The Rascals have put together a play based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Spanky. Spud has the role of Aunt Ophelia and he plays the part with a certain dignity. He almost makes one wish that the short were only about putting on this play. Stymie plays Uncle Tom and he wasn’t supposed to be in drag for this one but his sister has a bellyache and he must take on the role of Topsy too. His costume as the little slave girl is a simple wig with ribbons and a burlap sack with “Topsy” written on it for a dress. His character develops a cute little walk as Topsy to let the audience know he is getting into the role. The double role turns out a bit too much for the little thespian when he appears on stage as Topsy with a bald pate!

The axiom of the theater is “the show must go on.” The Little Rascals must take these words to heart especially dealing with a primadonna the likes of Darla. She walks out as the female lead during the presentation of Romeo and Juliet in Pay As You Exit. When Alfalfa’s Romeo pines “Juliet, wherefore art thou?”, “Here I is!” is the response from the balcony as Buckwheat, in costume, takes her place. When Darla storms out of the production of Tales of The Arabian Nights in Aladdin’s Lantern it is Spanky who dons the harem girl costume to save the day. The chorus girls fail to show up for Our Gang Follies of 1936 so every boy in the gang puts on the turn of the century dresses. With the instructions to follow Spanky’s dance steps, the consequences are hilarious. (The Flory Dory Girls bit is at the end of the video.)

Sometimes drag is a convenient disguise. In Rushin’ Ballet, Spanky and Alfalfa are in over their heads as sleuths and they find themselves being chased by a pair of bullies. A dance school provides a quick cover and an easy disguise as ballerinas.

Alfalfa as Amelia.

Trying to escape their pursuers, they are hustled onto the stage of a dance recital! Imagine the teacher’s horror as she sees four sets of dancers when there should only be three! Rather than get a scolding from the teacher, Alfalfa remains on stage. The orchestra plays an encore as Alfalfa is joined by two boy dancers. The bullies have taken over for the real dancers however and what happens next is more World Wrestling Federation than Swan Lake! (This classic scene was remade and expanded in The Little Rascals film feature in 1994.)

Alfalfa was made president of The He-man Woman Haters Club in absentia in Mail and Female. He must now get the love letter that he sent to Darla. A love letter that was never delivered! Smelling a rat, the Gang is in hot pursuit of the young lover. However, instead of finding Alfalfa red handed violating the club’s rules about fraternizing with the opposite sex, they are fooled by him dolled up in costume featuring a curly blond wig. In his falsetto southern twang he explains that he is Darla’s cousin Amelia from New York. Not only do the older boys buy the story, they are charmed by Amelia!

Froggy thinks there is a party going on to which he was not invited in Surprised Parties. When he crashes the party en femme, it is fun to watch as the Gang wonders who this new brash neighborhood girl is however briefly. In other shorts: Stymie tries to pass himself off as the little mistress of the mansion in Bargain Day, the gang spends the night at Darla’s house in her night clothes in Night ‘n’ Gales and in The New Pupil, Spanky and Alfalfa are humiliated in dresses playing with dolls.

Janet, Spanky, Froggy (as “Puddin’ Tane”), Buckwheat, Mickey

Adults can’t let kids have all of the fun. Four male crooks try to pass themselves off as a family consisting of a husband, wife and two babies in an attempt to rip off wealthy matrons in Free Eats. In School’s Out the Gang suspects that the man asking about their popular teacher is going to marry her and take her away. When the gang takes his clothes the only thing he can find to wear is a you-know-what.

The Our Gang and Little Rascals comedies mentioned in this article can be readily available at your local video store, your neighborhood library or on cable television. When you ask for the shorts don’t forget to give the high sign!

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Category: Transgender Fun & Entertainment


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