back to Drag Artist Discography entry page

Liz Lyons, aka Lee Leonard

7/4/19 -- 4/24/91

      before she became Liz Lyons, she performed under
the name Lee Leonard, in clubs like Finocchio's

as Lee Leonard

Click for Lee Leonard Clippings



Below, 1951

as Liz Lyons


Download Liz Lyons "Up Your Ass" (33:30) circa 1975

Download Liz Lyons "Live from Around the World to You" (32:19) circa 1979


Added November 2009, a letter from a website visitor:

Hi, My name is Dan. I met Liz as Lee Leonard when I was 21, back in 1964. He was the first female impersonator I had ever seen (or heard of). He was working at the Gay 90's in Minneapolis which in those days was a pretty famous strip club along with vaudeville acts such as Lee's and a sister tap dancing act. The 90's also had a live band. I was so fascinated with him that I started hanging out at the 90's and Lee and I became good friends.

When I was 22 I enlisted in the Air Force (I had gotten my draft notice) and turned 23 in basic training. My parents gave me a going away party which Lee and his lover attended. His lover later left him for a stripper at the 90's who had been in a long term lesbian relationship with another stripper. They got married and had at least one child. In 1968, the University of Minnesota hospital was doing research in the gender reassignment surgery, following John Hopkins, and, I believe, doing free surgery. It was then that Lee had the "change." I was home on leave and brought Liz a pound of chopped liver in the hospital which she loved. She had been raised in Chicago with an Italian father and Jewish mother and Lee had loved to eat. After the sex change, I lost track of Liz. When I got out of the service in 1970, she was gone and I heard she was living somewhere in Saskatchewan. I never saw her or heard from her again. I would assume she is no longer living as she was in her 50's when she went through the surgery.

One other memory is that after I moved out of my parents home when I was 21, Lee would have me over for dinner almost every Sunday evening along with the other entertainers and some of the staff from the 90's. It was very exciting for me being only 21. One highlight of a dinner was that I met Sally Rand, the famous fan dancer. She was performing at the Gay 90's. I found out she was about my mother's age so she had to be in her very early 60's. I'm 66 yrs old now but have many fond memories of those days and of Lee.

Added November 2009, a letter from a website visitor:

I came upon your fantastic site today when I was doing a Google search for Liz Lyons. I saw Ms. Lyons perform when I was18 or 19, probably around 1984. She was playing a straight strip club here in Calgary, Canada. My friends and I had just gone to check out the peelers and had no idea who this lady was or what to make of her. Believe it or not, I had no idea until I saw your article that she was trans-gendered (I was young).

I remember her act as a mix of bawdy comedy (of sorts) and song-- I recall her singing 'Birth of the Blues' to taped accompaniment. As described in different accounts, she did indeed lift her top at one point to flash her copious breasts (little homo-to-be that I was, I looked away). Liz was well past her prime then, I think, and we were a bit bewildered by her act, but looking back I'm glad I got to see a part of drag and queer history. I'm sure she has long since passed away, though I couldn't find any more information.


Chris E.

Added December 2012, from a letter from a website visitor, Steve:

Back in the late 70's I worked at an electronics store in the midwest. CB radios were big at the time. One day a Lincoln Continental pulled into the parking lot and out got the most flamboyant woman we had ever seen. While she was talking to the manager about a cb radio one of us went out into the parking lot to check the out of state license plate. It was from Nevada and it turned out to be Liz Lyons who was performing at a local club. It was quite an experience having her in the store, to say the least. She decided on a cb radio and wanted it installed in the car. She came later in the day to pick up the car and found that the radio hadn't been installed in the exact place she wanted it. So she's giving the manager all kinds of hell and flithy talk. She finally said if he'd buy her album and correct the problem she'd watch her language around the other customers. The manager bought the album, the problem was corrected and Liz was on her way. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. It was fun to discover more information about her on your website.

Added December 2012

I'm the General Manager at the Gay 90's, in Minneapolis, MN. I ran across your page and saw the information about (Topsy) Lee Leonard, and realized I have a pic of our old sign that has Lee's name on it when he was here performing. I don't have a date the picture was taken, but here it is anyway. The drag show here is still going on and is bigger than ever. -- Robert

Based on the first letter above, from someone seeing one of Lee's
shows at that same bar, perhaps this photo is from around 1964



if you have other photos or information about Liz (or Lee) puleeze let me know...

Click for Lee Leonard Clippings