I am the only surviving female-impersonator who played in "The Rose". I was the only one who had a talking-scene with Midler and Forest. I was approached to be Bette's impersonator in a drag-club, because I was/am a live performer. Midler's manager, Aaron Russo - who had come to check me out - called-out that I was doing Bette's "jokes" during a live performance in the world-famous "The Queen Mary", a night club in Studio City, CA - now sadly closed after 42 years. However, I do not do impersonations of other performers. What the manager didn't know is that most of her material came from drag-queens. I also had appeared in The 82 Club in New York City - a mafia-run establishment, and wonderful to work for, also closed - and was hired originally by Rydell as a consultant for the physical attributes in a long-closed speakeasy in downtown Los Angeles......it was larger, but perfect. After a conversation with Mark Rydell and a singing audition for an unseen Ms. Midler, I was told "bring an outfit - we've written a role for you". I was hesitant to accept - there was no contract for a speaking-role, I was paid only scale. I attended the first day of shooting on location, but did not go for the second day - they came to get me, I suppose because they liked what they saw in the "dailies" - There was a third day of shooting, all of which were totally miserable for me - I had no aspirations to be a "movie-star" - I was an established drag-act with a large following and loved my work. My drag-appearance was outrageous, as you'll know if you saw the film "The Rose" - I planned it that way, because that's the act I was doing at the time the film was shot. The role I did in the film actually was an impersonation of someone's identity I cannot divulge - I'm sure many New Yorkers picked-up on it immediately. All of the hair-dressers on location were shocked with my hairpiece - they could not have combed it. On the final day of shooting, it became very quiet after the "wrap". Ms. Midler very quietly called me over to speak with her before the entire company, thanking me for being so quiet during the shooting, not constantly calling "make-up", "hair" as the other impersonators did. I was highly complimented.
I've seen the film only once in a theater, and became so engrossed with the story, I completely forgot I was in it. Like 90% of the audience, when I saw myself I gasped. I heard people call-out my name, as I sunk deeper into my seat. It was only then I became extremely gratified to have been in the film. Ms. Midler and I never stuck to the script, because it did not bring-out that her character had once been down-and-out when she lived above "The 777 Club", and I supplied her with drugs. There is enough unused film from that shoot to make another film. What a waste of money ! It was and is my opinion the entire scene could have been left-out, it was so poorly, ruthlessly edited.
I worked for many years in "The Queen Mary" after the film was released. I never made a big deal that I was in the film. People asked if I were in "The Rose" during my performances - and do still today wherever I happen to be - and I tell them I was, but it was only another job - as it was just that. I'm much better known for performances at "The Queen Mary" than having appeared in "The Rose". I've turned-down opportunities to appear in other films, because I have no real interest, unless the money is good. Scale.....peanuts. Making movies is not fun !! All that standing-around, shooting the same scene 50 times-a-day.
If you are familiar with "The Queen Mary", you'll know my name. Otherwise, you'll have to look at this sensational film to discover my identity. I call myself "The Oldest Drag-Queen in Captivity", because I'm 82-going-on 30.
As other posters have stated, "The Rose" IS NOT A BIOP OF JANIS JOPLIN. If it's true the story was just a film for Ms. Midler to perform in to show her talent, it is a fabulous testament to that fact. Is she an actress? Indeed! She could not have done the body of work she accomplished without being one. Viva Midler ! The appearance of the film is exactly as it was intended to be - criticize all you want, this is a major film - and will become a classic.