Here American drag performer, dramatist, and actor Ethyl Eichelberger (1945–1990) portrays Auntie Belle Emme, a play on the word antebellum. Looking woefully into a small casket, Auntie Belle wears a hoop skirt and layered sleeves, fully embodying the fictional Civil War–era character.
Eichelberger began his acting career in Providence’s Trinity Repertory Company. He wrote plays that cast him in both male and female roles, but he was most celebrated for his explorations into the complex lives of influential women throughout history. Photographer Peter Hujar—who, like Eichelberger, was a renowned figure in the downtown New York avant-garde of the 1970s and ’80s—is known for his sensitive depictions of LGBTQIA community.