One of the fundamental problems encountered in looking for the "queer" in the past lies in determining what counts as queer. This chapter explores the question of what counts as "queer" by focusing on theatrical performances, performers, and their audiences in the US during the nineteenth-century. Burlesque began as a literary form that catered to the urban elite and it was popular in both English theater and in the US before the Civil War. Theatrical culture in this period was distinct enough from a respectable middle-class world that it could serve as a haven for lesbian and gay actors and actresses. None of the cross-dressing described in this chapter subverted gender norms of the period entirely; even male impersonators such as Hindle and Wesner catered to the men in their audience. The chapter argues that male impersonation had subversive potential because it undermined the hegemonic middle-class male ideal, but in doing so it also reinforced working-class constructions of manhood.