13-Year-Old Rose McGowan Danced at Gay Nightclubs Dressed As Charlie Chaplin

Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

As many young girls do, Rose McGowan took ballet lessons until the age of 13. “And then I ran away from home, and then I danced on gay nightclub stages,” McGowan told Vulture at the NYC Ballet fall gala on Wednesday. So how did a 13-year-old even know where the gay bars were in Portland, Oregon? “I was taken in by two lovely drag queens and a stripper named Tina, so, you know, I learned how to paint and do makeup with the best of them,” she explained. “I would dress up as Charlie Chaplin, and I would do checkerboard makeup on my face. I would bring it. I was cool,” she laughed.

McGowan was in attendance at the ballet Wednesday night because her friend, Harrison Ball, was starring in a principal role in the production, The Blue of Distance. It's been a while since she's been to Lincoln Center, she said, because the last time she was there, she almost got into a fight. “I got beat up by an old man at Lincoln Center — at a German comedy opera, if that’s not an oxymoron,” she said. “It was from hell. It was the worst night. My phone lit up [during the performance] and he punched me in my back, and my head hit the seat in front of me, and then the guys in front of me leaned around and punched me in the leg. It was a strange confluence of events.”

Did she strike back? “As I lunged over the chair to kill him, I realized, the New York Post is going to run that Rose McGowan beat up a 75-year-old man at Lincoln Center, and it stopped me, goddamn it,” she said. “I wanted to leave the opera out of spite, but I couldn’t. I was stuck. It was the worst. That’s my last Lincoln Center experience. I hope tonight will be better.”