J.R. Greenwell


I first came out as a young man, and later, for a second time, I came out in full force as a female impersonator known as Rachel Wells, and then as Miss Gay America 1979. And now, in the third act of my life, I've come out as a queer writer and playwright.


I'm happy to announce that my new book,

In a Whirl of Delusion, has now been published! It's been a long time in the making and I'm so pleased that Chelsea Station Editions has agreed to publish it.


Who the Hell is Rachel Wells? is still available. It's a collection of fictional short stories that deal with sexual orientation, gender roles, and gender identity.  Yeah, and course, there are a few crazy drag queen tales, as well.  I'd like to think there's a little Rachel Wells in all of us!



Please take the time to look at my play list, browse through the Rachel Wells Photo History, and perhaps read my memoir found only on line, Teased Hair and the Quest for Tiaras.


With the help of a big-hearted team of misfits, Chester Davis, a tall, g                         Available on Amazon!ning Glory Trailer Park in Birmingham, is tran

lp WWithof a big-hearted team of misfits, Chester Davis, a tall,

With the help of a big-hearted  team of misfits,

Chester Davis, a tall, gawky refugee from the

Morning Glory Trailer Park in Birmingham,

is transformed into Daphne DeLight, an aspiring drag queen with the delusional quest of becoming the next

Miss Gay Drag Queen Alabama.  Or is it? 

Both Chester and Daphne are blessed with an inspirational naivety and ambition that won't surrender to any humiliation.  Quirky, clever, and infused with a Southern gothic campiness, In a Whirl of Delusion is a marvelous series of misadventures on a road toward love and fame.m the Morning Glory Trailer Park in y humiliation. Q road toward love and fame






I’ve always enjoyed writing. I’ve been compelled to write not just about my past, but also about the incredible people that I’ve met. Around ten years ago, I realized that it was my responsibility and duty to help preserve my gay history, especially during the era in which I spent my young adult years in Atlanta.


I decided to present my memoir as a free gift on this website to those who want to read it. It is my contribution to preserving just one small bit of female impersonation history. It is by all means not inclusive of everyone I ever knew or ever met. And for those who are not a part of the memoir, I encourage them to create their own piece of history for future generations to enjoy.



What they're saying about In a Whirl of Delusion:


As an entertainer for over forty years, I found In a Whirl of Delusion to be so relatable, especially with Daphne in her struggles and determination to pursue her dreams. With so many turns and surprises, I found myself wanting to turn each page to see what would happen next. The colorful characters come alive, and the end provided me with such joy. Definitely a wonderful read. Heather Fontaine, Miss Continental USA 1981, and Miss Florida FI 1995                              


J.R. Greenwell introduces some of the most bizarre, lovely, funny, sensitive people you'll ever get to know. Each one has a dream, and some come true by hook or sequin. Whether by taking a ride in Sam's Cadillac or learning to spin with Daphne DeLight, you're sure to fall in love with In a Whirl of Delusion.  Greenwell's years as female impersonator, Rachel Wells, exposed him to a world most could never imagine. He's been there, done that, and he's able to describe the drag queen experience in every detail. His imagination is fabulous, whether in a whirl of delusion or leading the reader into a world of illusion. It’s a fascinating book. George E. Jordan, John B. Harter Foundation Senior Advisor


Thank you, David Pratt (author of Wallaconia) for your Goodreads 5 Stars review of In a Whirl of Delusion.


A comical look at the world of Southern drag queen pageants. Greenwell (Who the Hell is Rachel Wells?, 2013) opens his entertaining novel with its protagonist and narrator, Chester Davis, pleasantly sandwiched in bed between Zac Efron and Ryan Reynolds. Sadly for Chester, his fantasy sequence is the result of a concussion-induced hallucination. The author then takes us back approximately one year when the waiflike Chester escapes at the age of 21 from the trailer park where he lives with his abusive, homophobic grandmother outside of Birmingham, Alabama…Mostly harmless fun with a large cast of zany characters and many chaotic situations.  Kirkus Reviews


Entering into the world of J.R. Greenwell's Whirl of Delusion is fancifully foreign - yet fantastically familiar. While the details of Daphne's oft-hilarious experiences may be different than your own, anyone who has ever felt "other than"- and then found their people and their place in this world - will relate. This finely told tale will make you laugh out loud, but it is its many poignant moments that keep you caring for its ragtag cast of characters. It's a world I hope Greenwell revisits in future books; I want to know what happens next! 

Missy BrownsonHush Candy


Chester Davis narrates J.R. Greenwell’s comical take on Southern drag queen pageants.  What is fun about drag queens is playing with stereotypes and Greenwell does that just great here (although Daphne is her own stereotype, bless her heart). Now you should know that a book about a drag queen has to be campy and this one certainly has its share of camp and in good, clean fun. I actually felt that I was involved in helping Daphne win the crown and let me tell you, the Alabama drag world is a rough place to be. Amos Lassen, reviewer.








I want to thank Pandora Productions in Louisville, Kentucky for staging a reading of my full-length play, PURPLEXION, November 11, 2017.  Thank you Michael Drury and the cast, as well as the audience who gave some wonderful feedback after the reading. I've already completed the rewrites!






 I'm proud to announce that my "Another Damn Bucket List?" will be produced by Stage Q as one of thirteen short plays for Queer Shorts 10 at the Bartell Theatre in Madison Wisconsin, June12-20, 2015.  I encourage you to attend and support LGBT theater!






After an enormous amount of hard work that I thoroughly enjoyed, my new book has been published by Chelsea Stations Editions.  I want to thank Jim Currier, publisher and author, for having the faith in my work and guiding me through this publishing journey.  I also have to give props to my partner, Jack, for being patient with me and for snapping the cover photo, and to Paige Passion from Columbus, Ohio for providing the drag pieces for my photo shoot. 

Click cover to connect to Chelsea Station Editions!

What they're saying about the author:

"It's impossible to resist the adorable appeal of the collective world Greenwell has created on page, populated with larger-than-life characters who are each worthy of  a novel of their own. He has crafted a memorable collection of short stories that will certainly establish him as a powerful new voice in Southern literature." David-Matthew Barnes,  Lambda Literary.

"I know there are still two months technically left in the year, but Who the Hell is Rachel Wells? has officially won my heart as the best gay anthology of the year, and while of course not all of that is due to the final story in the collection, the final story in the collection is frankly brilliant...if you haven't picked up a copy of Who the Hell is Rachel Wells? yet, then allow me to tell you that you should."   'Nathan Burgoine, reviewer and author of LIGHT.

"This is a home run for this first-time talented author, and a Southern-fried treat for his readers. Five stars out of five!"
Bob Lind, Echo Magazine

"One of the best perks about being a reviewer is the opportunity I get to read new authors. I received J.R. Greenwell’s last week and as I read, I thought to myself (and now I share that with you) that this new writer is going to find a special place in the gay canon.  Who the Hell is Rachel Wells? is a collection of eleven short stories about being gay in the South and I loved each of them...Greenwell gives us a wonderful cast of characters with heart and we laugh and cry with them. Written with wit and emotion, we are taken into the world of Southern drag queens and feel what they feel as they navigate life."  Amos Lassen, reviewer.

“J.R. Greenwell does a lovely job of relaying the comic as well as tragicomic aspects of the over-the-top dramatic world of drag queens, and he nails it exactly.”  Felice Picano, author of 20th Century Un-limited and True Stories.


"Greenwell has a talent for creating immediately recognizable yet slightly weird around the edges characters, and he puts them through some wonderfully silly paces as well as some heartbreaking ones. His prose is admirably restrained, conveying a great deal yet never sounding overwritten. But it’s his characters that shine and sparkle like sequins in the spotlight. If you’re looking for a light read that has some substance behind its humor, you’ll hardly go wrong with this collection."   Jerry Wheeler, Out In Print.



"J.R. Greenwell's debut collection of short stories heralds a new phase of red-state, trans-gay lit."  Kyle Thomas Smith, EDGE.



Who the Hell is Rachel Wells?

has been named to Out In Print's Best 13 Reads of 2013! 

Thank you Out In Print!



I'm proud to announce that I have been named a finalist for the

2014 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award.

I am honestly humbled by this recognition of my work. 




Check out my recent publications!



Rhinestone Magic
has been named a finalist in the
2014 Saints and Sinners
Short Fiction Contest

and has been published in the latest
S&S anthology.

Click the cover to order yours today!


Jungle Fever   has been published in Chelsea Station Magazine. This excerpt is from the memoir, Teased Hair and the Quest for Tiaras.


Hey Mister, My Name is Blue   has been published in the January 2014 online issue of Round Up Writer's Zine.  This poem was inspired by an interesting soul I briefly met in 1972.  Click the link to check it out.


Silver Pumps and a Loose Nut, an excerpt from Who the Hell is Rachel Wells? can be found on Berfrois!








I'm happy to announce that my play, Out of the Closet, will open in Louisville at the Bard's Town September 12, 2013 and will run for two weeks as one of eight plays in the Ten-Tucky Play Festival.  It is an honor to be selected as one of the Kentucky playwrights, but I'm even more proud to be on the same bill as my friend and mentor, Nancy Gall-Clayton.



Though fictional, my playwriting has been influenced by situations and characters that have impacted my life. They are available for production.


METAMORPHOSIS (Learning to Sashay Like RuPaul)

Finalist in the Saints and Sinners 2010 Literary Festival Full-Length Play Competition (New Orleans, LA).

Full-length dark comedy

A young gay man throws the family (staff and show cast) of Club 82 into chaos when they take him in.

(6 M characters).





Full-length light, twisted comedy

While the director of an adult education center is sexually exploiting the auditor to maintain operational funding, her zany staff and teachers are being held hostage by a disgruntled student. In the duration of the plot, the characters reveal secrets about past and present gender-bending and sexual issues.

(3M and 4F characters)





Full-length dark comedy

An aging female impersonator reflects on his booger drag past, telling the story of how a group of young gay men crossed paths for a short time in the fall of 1971. Based on the memoir, Teased Hair and the Quest for Tiaras.

(1F and 5M characters)



In Michael's Honor

Now published in Chelsea Station Magazine!

(click title to take you there)

Short one-act play (approximately 12 minutes)


When Michael is murdered, these misfits have to deal with their grief and what to wear to his funeral. Adapted from a scene from PURPLEXION.

(1F and 3 M characters)





Short one-act play (ten minutes)


An irate shopper and a dim-witted cashier find an interesting way to connect at the checkout line.

(2M characters)


Starting Rumors


A Ten Minute Play


Two conniving community college professors add a flavorful twist to lunch while mentoring an instructor.

(1M and 2F characters)


Out of the Closet


A Ten Minute Play


A dinner party takes a queer turn when one of the guests sits in a chair that has life-altering powers.

(2F and 2M characters)


Zucchini Love


A Ten Minute Play

Dark Comedy

Wanda and Jack have a tense conversation over coffee. Is their love life dead?

(1M and 1F)


That Smoky Mountain Fog


A Ten Minute Play

Dark Comedy

Eddie goes home to seek his estranged mother's blessing for his upcoming wedding only to find things have changed in his western Carolina hometown.

(1M and 1F)


Published Short Stories


Who The Hell Is Rachel Wells?

Finalist in the Second Annual Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival Short Fiction Contest (2011).

After a farewell ceremony, a drag bag is left at a Kentucky rest stop. How will the bag and its contents impact those who find it? This short story is pure satire on the status of celebrity.

Now published in Saints & Sinners (New Fiction from the Festival 2011), available through Amazon.com.



The Scent of Honeysuckle

Finalist in the Third Annual Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival Short Fiction Contest (2012).

A young gay runaway discovers what it's like to be homeless in Louisville, but the dangers he faces on a daily basis don't compare to the perils he would face back home...or would they?

Now published in Saints & Sinners (New Fiction from the Festival 2012), available through Amazon.com.



Silver Pumps and a Loose Nut

Finalist in the Fourth Annual Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival Short Fiction Contest (2013).

Two drag queens from Birminham have a somewhat memorable evening in Daytona Beach.

Now published in Saints & Sinners (New Fiction from the Festival 2013), available through Amazon.com.








It has become so important to not just remember the past, but to record it as well. The following links will connect you to a couple of rare video flashes of me and others from the past.  I've also included some incredible articles and interviews with some spectacular divas from their crossroads in Atlanta reflecting the days gone by.



Miss Gay America  The official MGA website.


Hot Chocolate Interview  A wonderful Legends interview with Larry Edwards. Lots of historical details.


Hot Chocolate's Website  Larry's great website!


Lisa King Interview  A must read interview with Lisa. She gives lots of insight into the past. Another legend to be honored.


Lena Lust Interview  If anyone remembers and is part of any Atlanta drag history, it would be Lena Lust. A wonderful person and I was so happy to have found this recent article.


Video Rachel Wells Performing  Someone recorded this video (it was during a MGA preliminaty night in the early 80's). It's rare to find a video of most of us from that era.


Female Impersonator of the Year Evening Gown  I'm sure everyone has seen this video by now, but it's fun to be reminded of how much fun this particular group could have when we got together.


Female Impersonator of the Year Sportswear  Okay, guys. Fur coats and such? What were we thinking?


Female Impersonator of the Year Talent (Kate)  The one and only time I did this routine live. Life has always been about taking risks!


Video Library Commercial 1984  Someone let me know they had found this after all these years. A commercial with me as Kate and Carol, and Chocolate showing off his early Tina!


Impulse Video Digest 1984  Tina Devore and me with one of our episodes of News Beat that aired each week on Cable Atlanta. As always, Tina was great to work with.


Tribute to Logan Carter, aka Roxanne Russell  A wonderful tribute to Logan.


Creative Loafing Article (Atlanta History) This article looks at the past 30 years in Atlanta. The Sweet Gum Head is listed!


Diamond Lil Interview  The grand diva of all Atlanta drag entertainers, this is an incredible article with Diamond Lil.


Dina Jacobs Interview   Another great original entertainer (and one of my favorites) from the past.


Tina Devore Interview  The stability for any show, Tina Devore is paid tribute to a wonderful and long-lasting career. One of my favorite people.










I’d love to hear from you. My email address:  jrgreenwellmga79@yahoo.com