In Memorium – Danny Hurshman Jr.

Danny Hurshman. Sept. 20, 1985 – Sept. 12, 2017

Danny Hurshman – often known by his nickname, DJ, and his drag name, Connie Carlysle – was a good friend of this magazine, and we featured him as Connie on the November 2013 Camp cover and on the front and back covers of our May 2012 issue. He was a talented entertainer, happy to perform and generous with his time.

Hurshman was born in Kansas City, Mo. to Danny Sr. and Evelyn (Shuster) Hurshman. He worked as a vintage clothes salesman for Vintage Vogue, Boomerang, and Re-runs. He was a performer at Sidekicks and Missie B’s. He graduated high school from Blue Springs South in 2004.

His survivors include his parents; sister, Jessica Hurshman (Todd Thomas); brother, Jeff Hurshman (Emily); niece, Tasha Thomas; and two nephews, Tyler Thomas and Cody Hurshman – all of whom are Blue Springs, Mo., residents; his dear longtime friends Cydney Carl, of Blue Springs, and Amanda Luker, of Kansas City, Mo.; and his partner, Anthony Jarvis, of Kansas City, Mo.

Some of the Hurshman family at the Celebration of Life

On his birthday, Sept. 20, there was a celebration of life for Hurshman at Missie B’s. Many people performed and many said kind words in his honor from the stage. 

One of the speakers, his good friend Andy Chambers, said:

If misery loves company, then I’m in amazing company! 

Seventeen or so years ago I met a boy. Actually, he was more of a fella. A beautiful and charming fella.

Like the beams of color and magic that cut through the air in a darkened movie theatre, he was energetic and imaginative and made Old Hollywood glamour look effortless.

We immediately bonded over our devotion to times gone by that we never experienced, but loved, and set about building a friendship forged of Technicolor and dead people’s clothes.

Danny Hurshman as Connie Carlysle on the May, 2012 cover of Camp

I was lucky enough to work with the fella behind Connie. I knew the person beneath the wigs and petticoats. … God, he loved a petticoat!

We talked Doris and Marilyn and Lana while peddling marvelous clothing to what we thought were ‘the undeserving.’ I taught him about MY gay ’80s, and he listened intently. We shared inspirations.

We got ready for Rock & Roll Prom, and he and Cydney had Prom Queens stolen from them! I’m still a little bitter about that!

We whomped wigs for fun and haunted thrift stores. He looked amazing in vintage dresses lesser beings would have found daunting.

He got me hooked on Poppy’s donuts and Mugs Up Root Beer. I was Ma Bear and on occasion, Asshole!

He hated winter as much as I love it, except that he had some great sweaters. …

He introduced me to some people that he loved so I could love them too … Kathy, Dorothy, Amy, Amanda, Cydney, Austin …

I knew his magic was unerring when he convinced his beautiful friends to not only dress up, BUT to make casseroles and party in his perfect ranch house. Sam Zorn still makes the best Chicken Divan I’ve ever had!

Like his VHS copy of White Christmas, I play my memories on repeat now. … All the back-combing and hairspray. All the Mashed Potatoes and Frugs danced.

I stand before you all this night, his birthday, not to eulogize him but CELEBRATE him.

I present myself as a sacred clown. I paint on a smile to hide my sadness and hopefully erase yours.

As birthday parties and clowns are synonymous, so are birthdays and wishes… I’m going to have wishes on the house!

I wish we were all having cake to the strains of Lesley Gore and laughing.

Andy Chambers and Connie Carlysle

I told him repeatedly how talented and amazing he was. I was fucking annoying. I wish I was even more fucking annoying and my voice was louder.

I wish he had believed me.

I wish he could have believed in the magical powers he possessed as much as I did.

As much as we all did.

I always told him he could be anything he chose, and unfortunately, he chose the most numbing way to leave the party.

I know, like his beloved movie goddesses, he will remain forever young and beautiful, captured in photos and memories. But as his colorful legend slips into the ether and Connie becomes part of our history, I have ONE MORE wish.

I wish that all of you see your own beauty and talent and potential and use it to better our community and the world.

Now, I require a mutherfuckin’ shot!

  

Cydney Carl, Danny’s friend since childhood, wrote this about him on her Facebook wall:

  Last night, the framed vintage sun picture that my mom gave you for your 16th birthday was returned back to me. I’m numb.

   We connected in the sixth grade. While everyone else was collecting Beanie Babies and wearing JNCO jeans, we were collecting old records and circle skirts. 

Danny Hurshman and Cydney Carl

You introduced me to Janis Joplin and I introduced you to the Drifters. You stole your mom’s jewelry and told me you loved me. I stole my mom’s cigarettes and proclaimed the same. You loved Elvis and Marilyn, and I loved James and Grace.

By high school, we wore our vintage proudly, drove our old Bel Airs and were high school sweethearts, and for some reason never questioned that we had never made it to first base. You were my only friend for a lot of years, and you showed me myself by being exactly as you were.

By 20, we came out to one another. We laughed and realized that we always knew. You dressed me and I dressed you.

There are too many memories over the last 20 years, and I know that the adventure wasn’t supposed to end this way, but like Connie Carlyle, you will forever be locked in time.

I love you, my DJ boy. I hope mama Pennie, your grandmother, and all your favorite icons gave you such a warm welcome. Save me a dance when I get there.