“On Organization Day, Simone was onstage and proved such a success that other units invited Perry…”

“On Organization Day, Simone was onstage and proved such a success that other units invited Perry [Watkins] to perform for them. He soon acquired an agent, who booked Simone in NCO and enlisted men’s clubs throughout Europe. Ever since he was a kid with the Tacoma City Ballet, Perry had wanted to be an entertainer. Now he had finally achieved his dream, in the Army. As Simone.”

Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military by Randy Shilts, page 156.

In between enlistments in the Army, Sgt. Perry Watkins, a gay black man, developed a drag act with the name of Simone, and performed at a gay bar in Tacoma, WA. When he was stationed to a Pershing missile unit near Frankfurt, West Germany, Watkins brought along all the clothes and accessories necessary for his act. In a strange twist, he wound up performing as Simone for his unit’s Organization Day.

For more about Perry Watkins, see these posts: [1], [2], [3].