Angie Stardust was a legendary entertainment figure far beyond the red-light district in Hamburg: soul singer, actress and entertainer, first African-American stage star at Club 82. Born in 1940 in Norfolk, Virginia, resident in Germany since 1974, died in Hamburg in 2007 at the age of 67. She starred in several films: Hard Women (1970), Die Alptraumfrau (1981), City of Lost Souls (1983), Crazy Boys (1987) and founded Angie’s Nightclub on the Reeperbahn in 1991. Performed in various clubs and theaters in Berlin, Cannes, Hamburg, Marseilles and Paris. Arrested seven times for wearing women’s clothing in public. The longest sentence included one month in prison.
Angie Stardust (1940-2007) was born in Norfolk, Virginia but she grew up in Harlem, New York. Even as a child, Angie Stardust realized that she was a woman. She regularly experienced domestic violence at the hands of her father. In Harlem, Angie Stardust soon met a transgender woman whom she befriended and who provided her with female hormones. As a New York drag queen, she began performing at the age of 14 in clubs such as the Jewel Box Revue. In 1960s New York, where African-American entertainers were not welcome in many establishments and white drag queens performed at night for a predominantly heterosexual audience, Angie Stardust managed to be an exception. She performed at Club 82 as early as the late 1950s, becoming the first African-American stage star.
Angie Stardust toured Europe at the age of 19. She found employment in the show group of Chez Nous in Berlin and the Pulverfass Cabaret in Hamburg. Later she settled in Hamburg and in 1983 was the manager of the first all-male strip club in Hamburg, Crazy Boys.
Even before Angie Stardust founded her nightclub, she was well known in the St. Pauli neighborhood. She performed at the Pulverfass Cabaret, among other places, and quickly became a star there as well. Her relationship with Heinz-Diego Leers, the owner of the Pulverfass, went beyond the professional and so he gave her the money for her gender reassignment surgery. During her time in Hamburg, Angie Stardust also became involved helping other transgender people. She gave shelter to those who were affected by homelessness. She tried to find these people employment so that they could stand on their own feet financially. Some of them were allowed to give their first performances on stage in her nightclub and take off as up-and-coming artists. However, not all of them aspired to a stage career, and so Angie Stardust used her contacts to place them in other industries.
After she had several strokes, little was heard from Angie Stardust. She died at the age of 67 after a long illness. In her final years she was confined to a wheelchair. In 1999, she fulfilled a deep desire and traveled to Paris with her caregiver Annette Tillmann. “I have fought the good fight, completed my work, kept the faith,” reads her obituary. Her friends bid her farewell at Holy Trinity Church in St. George’s Churchyard on November 14, 2007 and celebrated her with a memorial concert at Angie’s Nightclub on November 16.