For 33+ years, The Armorettes have been premier fundraisers for HIV/AIDS in the gay and lesbian community while providing the absolute best in camp entertainment. They have raised well over $2 million for AIDS support services! The Armorettes perform every Sunday at Burkhart’s at 8 p.m. and every 2nd Saturday of the month at The Heretic Backroom Burlesque Show, also at 8 p.m. You are invited to come see why they have consistently been voted best drag cast over and over again. Check back here often as we continue to improve our web content with more and more pictures, resources and contacts.
Atlanta has long been known as “the gay capital” of the South, and a mecca of sorts to the hundreds of men and women who grew up in, moved to or visited often a city in which they could “be themselves…” be gay.
Atlanta also can lay claim to another distinctive title, the birthplace of “Camp Drag” female impersonation that uniquely combines comedy and outrageous fashion, all set to music. In the late 1970′s, gay men began to congregate to watch Atlanta Falcon football games in a gay bar called the Armory every Sunday. Unfortunately, the Falcons weren’t that good. To keep the crowds at halftime, a group of regulars at the Armory formed a drag troupe that became known as the Armorettes. Under the direction of the bar’s manager, Greg Troia, and funded by the bar’s owner, Bill Copeland, the Armorettes quickly moved from being “side entertainment” at halftime of a football game to being the focus of the entire evening. From 1980, every Sunday at 9:00 pm sharp, the Armorettes donned wigs, sequins and heels, and performed for the community.
From the beginning, Greg’s idea was to present drag in a form we now call “camp.” The Armorettes were an immediate success at the Armory and across the city. Under the leadership of Greg, known as Thelma Natalie Troia, the group became known as the “Camp Drag Queens of the South.” Year after year, visitors return to see one of the most fun gay activities in Atlanta. The world came to know and love The Armorettes, the Drag Races, Thelma’s Pump Room, Jello Shooters, Miss Barfly, Homecoming, and the many wonderful men who collectively make up the 29 years of the camp cast.
Through the years, the Armorettes have brought many hours of fun, laughter, and support to the gay community. From the first shows which took place in the Armorys’ front room on bar stools and tables to the dedicated ‘Thelma’s Pump Room” to the slick production of the stage at Backstreet and now their current down home feel at Burkhart’s, the dreams of Greg Troia and the original Armorettes have stood the test of time.
The Armorettes are a unique group of individuals who are selected through interviews with current members and auditions in front of our patrons.
The group is not paid for any of the countless hours of hard work and dedication they spend providing entertainment and promoting the many worthy benefits around the city. The Armorettes have performed in cities from New York to Miami to Los Angeles and Seattle, in Europe and Canada, and have maintained a regular commitment every Sunday night at 9:00 pm sharp in Atlanta. In 29 years over 58,000 numbers have been performed, hundreds of thousands of people have been entertained, and well over $ 1.9 million have been dropped in the bucket at the front of the stage. Countless shoes and wigs have been donned, and equally countless hours have been committed to make the community better for gays and lesbians. Several important factors remain consistent as the baton passes on to new generations of outstanding entertainers. The Armorettes always volunteer their time, always raise money for their community, and always end their shows with a soul-stirring version of United We Stand.
The Armorettes are indeed a legacy of service. Over 29 years, each member of the troupe, from the original cast of seven to the current cast, has dedicated a part of his or her life to serving causes in the gay and lesbian community. Raising money, awareness of issues, and providing a good time to anyone who would spend a Sunday night with us has always been our aim. From the original Homecoming event that raised just over $2000 for AID Atlanta to the current cast of tireless volunteers who are committed to many community causes, the Armorettes continue their legacy of service.
Many individuals have passed through the hallowed dressing rooms of the Armorettes, each bringing their own unique style to the group. Each one has left a collection of memories for our fans. You may call the Armorettes a tradition… legendary… notorious… perhaps crazy… silly or probably many other adjectives. But there is one certainty, the Armorettes have become known from coast to coast for their faith in the community, compassion for their friends, dedication to their cause, and their ability to put a smile on your face and laughter in your heart. That ties us all together – a continuous thread that spans twenty nine years and weaves together a composite cast of over 70 men: The Armorettes. Forever and always, The Infamous Camp Drag Queens of The South.