In Memoriam: Diane Torr

Pioneering performance artist and gender activist


With sadness we report the death of performance artist Diane Torr, known for her gender-bending performances and "Man for a Day" workshops.

Diane Torr was born in Canada and raised in Aberdeen, Scotland. After graduating from Darting College of the Arts in 1976, she moved to New York to study dance with Merce Cunningham. She soon became involved the city's emergent performance art scene, appearing at alternative spaces such as Franklin Furnace, the Kitchen and WOW Cafe Theater. At this time she was also working as a go-go dancer to support herself financially, and she incorporated this into her performances, causing controversy amongst feminist audiences.

In 1989 she began to experiment with passing and performing as a man, establishing the "drag king" genre, and in the early 1990s began to develop the drag king workshops that she would later teach around the world as "Man for a Day" workshops. Her extensive exploration of gender-as-performance has been documented in the book "Sex, Drag and Male Roles: investigating gender as performance", co-written with Stephen Bottoms and published in 2010, and in the film "Man for a Day", directed by Katarina Peters (2011). 

Torr's performance work includes being part of DISBAND, an all-female punk conceptual art band founded by Martha Wilson in 1978 and most recently performing in 2014; and "Donald Does Dusty", an homage to both her brother Donald, who died of AIDS in 1992, and Dusty Springfield, with whom Donald had a life-long fascination.


Visit Diane Torr's website: