Wichitas first female impersonator

Kansas.com – Beccy Tanner

When Johnnie Redding got ready for work, he didn’t wear a suit. Instead, Wichita’s first female impersonator stepped into a dress to entertain the wild and unruly.

“He had a voice like a nightingale or thrush,” said early-day journalist David Leahy. “Not only was he a great singer for his time, but he was a comedian of rare parts, a tragedian who could lift the roof off the stoutest barn… a clog dancer of memorable merit.”

Redding came to Wichita in the 1870s. His theater was on the property that is now the northwest corner of the Schweiter building.