Turkish entertainer famed for cross-dressing act, Seyfi Dursunoğlu, dies at 87

Celebrity Turkish singer and TV presenter Seyfi Dursunoğlu, also known by his stage name “Huysuz Virjin’’ (Ill-tempered Virgin), died on Friday.

Dursunoğlu, 87, succumbed to pneumonia due to the complications brought by a chronic respiratory disorder after having been hospitalised for over two weeks, Hurriyet reported on Saturday.

Born in 1932 in Turkey’s northeastern Trabzon province, Dursunoğlu was widely known for his cross-dressing persona and quick-witted manner, leaving his job as a public officer at the Social Security Organisation to start his performance career under the name Huysuz Virjin in 1970, when he was 38 years old.

He first started performing in small clubs, but as his reputation spread from word of mouth, he received offers from larger clubs. Dursunoğlu made his debut to the wider Turkish public with the character by participating in a popular televised contest programme hosted by Öztürk Serengil on state-run TRT.

Dursunoğlu’s other remarkable achievements include getting his own TV programme, “Huysuz Show”, releasing music albums and being a jury member for the second season of singing competition TV programme Popstar Turkey.

In 2007, the entertainer announced that he would no longer portray Huysuz Virjin, citing pressure and censorship by state broadcasting regulator RTÜK on TV channels that showed “Huysuz Show”.

Dursunoğlu returned to the silver screen five years later without his Huysuz Virjin persona to host the dance programme “Will You Dance with the Ill-tempered?” (Huysuz'la Dans Eder misin?) on Show TV in 2012. He also featured as a judge in Star TV’s “There is Nobody Like You” (Benzemez Kimse Sana) hosted by TV personality Murat Başoğlu.

Media and public officials commented on Dursunoğlu’s passing and expressed their condolences to his loved ones.

“I felt a deep sorrow over the death of Seyfi Dursunoğlu, a beloved name in our entertainment world who won over the love of the people through the characters he portrayed, said Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey's main political opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Twitter.

Democracy and Progress Party leader Ali Babacan and the Good Party’s Meral Akşener shared similar sentiments.

“One of the people who I imagined the impossible by wishing to meet during my childhood was Huysuz Virjin, but more so Seyfi Dursunoğlu. He taught (me) a lot. They tried to erase him, but they will see once again that he cannot be made forgotten,” tweeted CHP Istanbul provincial chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu, who referred to RTÜK’s actions against Dursunoğlu.

Dursunoğlu’s colleagues in the entertainment media industry rebuked RTÜK and state officials for giving their condolences over the singer’s death.

“Huysuz Virjin, who state officials are now issuing condolence messages for, could not appear on TV for years,” said TV producer and editor Armagan Çağlayan.

“The Huysuz Virjin show, which did not pose a legal threat, was not broadcast on TV for years due to RTÜK. This is the kind of supra-law authority that arises when institutions that should be regulating are involved in inspection and jurisdiction. And then come the crocodile tears. ‘He was such and such kind of invaluable entertainer,’ etc.,” said writer and production designer Gani Müjde on Twitter.