‘Born performer and gifted artist’ behind famed Wellington drag queen dies
Described as a “pure, gifted and very creative artist”, the man behind Wellington’s famous drag queen, Pamela Hancock, has died.
Cole Hampton – also known as Pam Hancock and Aunty Pam of Bulls – died suddenly on Thursday aged 24, causing shock and a “great wave” of grief in the many communities he impacted, said his brother Jon Livesey. .
Ollie Dempsey, a close friend of Hampton, said his “whole world was shattered” by his death.
“He was such a pure, gifted artist and one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever met,” he said.
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“I know I’m not the only person who’s been completely heartbroken. There were so many, many times when Cole and I were in town, day and night, and people would come up to him and thank him for being an amazing person and an inspiration to them at some point in their life. life.
More than 90 tributes have been posted online to Hampton, who had played Aunty Pam for several years. He started dressing when he was two years old, Livesey said.
“He first started dressing up as Steve from Blues Clues and Murray from The Wiggles. It went on to dress up as Suzy Cato and Julie Andrews,” he said.
“He’s been happening since he was a baby. It has always been under construction. He wouldn’t have done anything else and everyone knew it.
Hampton attended Onslow College, where he first met music teacher Justin Pearce in ninth grade.
“It was early in the year and people had just come home from ninth grade camp talking about this guy who sang Frank Sinatra and blew everyone away. It was Cole. I didn’t really think about it until he showed up at music class and started singing. He worked with me for the next five years.
Pearce described Hampton’s voice as “pretty special”.
“It was a performance voice. He was above all a born artist. The biggest challenge was figuring out what it was going to be.
In 12th grade, Hampton tried out for the school production, The Pajama Game, which was set in a pajama factory.
“I knew when I was looking for the other half of the main couple in the comics, the secretary, Cole would be a perfect candidate for this. I immediately had the image in my head of what he would look like and of what he would do,” Pearce said.
“He turned that character into Mabel, who became a springboard for Pam. He was an absolute hit in the series. He was fantastic. Cole has always had fantastic attention to detail.
“When he played Mabel, people were just blown away, because people who didn’t know Cole were really stuck, is he a guy or a girl? They couldn’t tell. But people who knew him just thought “well, it’s so him, or her, in this case, it’s so good. And it was.”
Pearce said Hampton was very creative, with a great visual eye and “very driven to create this world and these ideas”.
“Then moving all of that into Pam and creating this character with so much story and depth and on top of being incredibly entertaining…having a voice that could do a lot of different things and singing as a mature woman, which is pretty amazing really.”
Pearce recalls when Hampton’s mother came to him before he performed as Liza Minnelli in another school show, fearing he would be teased by his peers.
“Then he sang, and she saw that it was far from the truth, everyone respected and honored [him] and was quite blown away by his ability.
Her life had been struck by tragedy following the death of her mother in 2020. Her father, Craig Hampton, disappeared in Brooklyn, Wellington in 1999, when Hampton was six months old.
A memorial event for Hampton would be held at Eva Beva Thursday night, open to everyone, Livesey said.