Born as Derek Dupree in Philadelphia, Desiree was named after her maternal grandfather, a baseball player. Due to ambiguous genitalia, she was mistaken for a boy at birth and spent the formative years of her life as a brother to five older sisters, until puberty at age 12 when she grew not two breasts but three.
Personality and Appearance
Desiree is a prideful woman who, despite her unconventional body, her three breast and abnormally large clitoris, enjoys an undaunted and shameless confidence. Not one to mince words if crossed, she is quick to use her sharp tongue as a weapon and, when pushed even further, she has no qualms about getting physical or even murderous.
She often drapes herself in sensual and fitting dresses that accentuate her curves and highlight her breasts.
Ethel Darling observes Dell arriving at the freak show, a trailer bearing Desiree in tow. Desiree is unimpressed with the place. She and Dell have been with a Chicago troupe for the last six years but left after Dell killed a young homosexual man who hoped to "change his stripes" by having sex with the hermaphrodite. Desiree reveals that in addition to her three breasts, she has full female genitalia and a penis. Dell asks that they be able to join the act and they do so.
Halloween comes, and in the trailer, Dell pumps iron while Desiree inspires him with her costume. Despite her vigorous rubbing of his crotch, he fails to attain an erection. Desiree is tired of excuses for his frequent impotence. He rages against her but she warns him off before leaving.
Late for her performance, Jimmy finds Desiree drinking in her trailer, angered by her absent husband. When the boy's comfort turns to lust, his manual stimulation seems to result in vaginal bleeding. Ethel takes her to the doctor where it is explained that she has had a miscarriage and that what she believed to be a penis was, in fact, an enlarged clitoris which could be altered with cosmetic surgery. That night she tells Dell of this and of her discovery that he is Jimmy's father. Not wanting to bear his children and with no more reason to weather his impotence and abuse, she leaves him to room with Ethel. Dell visits the same doctor who examined Desiree. Dell threatens to harm his family and breaks his hands if he interferes with Desiree again.
Desiree ushers an ailing Ethel to an appointment with Dr. Bonham but discovers that his office has been closed for business. They enter anyway and find a woman packing away the doctor's belongings. The woman claims to be his daughter from Boston. She explains accusingly that her father blew his brains out after crashing his own fingers with a hammer and demands that they leave.
Following Ethel's death, the freaks are burying her and Desiree talks to Amazon Eve, Penny, and Suzi about her unexpected friendship with Ethel. Desiree is inspired by Ethel's survivor nature and strength. Penny commiserates, reminded of her father's mutilation of her. In Ethel's name, Desiree calls for retribution against Penny's father and the ladies volunteer. The next night, they break into Penny's father's house with the help of Suzi. He patrols with a shotgun, but they knock him out and kidnap him. The raiding party has him disrobed and tied to a chair. Desiree and Eve are about to tar and feather him, cut off his penis, and toss him into the river. Penny insists she should do it herself. She and Eve pour the hot tar on him and the feathers fly. Moments before the severance is to take place, Maggie runs in and says that this is not the way to obtain justice. Desiree says the young woman is out of her depth and her element, not one of them, and that she should stay out of this. Maggie warns that this action will send them all to jail. Penny declares that he will live only because she says so unless he comes near any of them again. Desiree calls for him to be dragged to the edge of camp where he'll wander home on his own.
While Desiree and Maggie are looking for the then-missing twins, a dark, handsome stranger, Angus T. Jefferson, comes calling for Desiree. She reveals to Maggie that he is her secret beau. Later, consumed by guilt over his murder of Ma Petite and his hidden homosexuality, Dell hangs himself from a rope in his trailer. Just before he blacks out, he is cut down and saved by Desiree.
Following Salty's death, Maggie Esmerelda takes Desiree to the American Morbidity Museum, to show her what became of Ma Petite. To Desiree's horror, Salty's severed head and Ma Petite's corpse are both on display. Associating Maggie with Ma Petite's demise, Desiree takes a certain disliking to Maggie.
After Dell kills the cops who were taking Jimmy back to jail, Desiree confronts Dell in their caravan, waiting with a gun. She wants to know who killed the cops and who helped him. Dell admits to having killed him to save Jimmy. She thinks Dell has gone too far, while Maggie leads Elsa to discover Ma Petite's fate. He tearfully admits to having smothered her. Once he admits that, Elsa shoots him in the head from behind.
Desiree kills Lillian Hemmings, the manager of the museum. At a dinner party in the big top where the freaks plan to take revenge on Stanley, Lillian's partner, Desiree presents the manager's pickled head to him as a "gift" she worked hard on. They mutilate him afterwards. After Maggie is brutally killed in a magic trick gone wrong, Desiree comments "she had it coming," and suggests the freaks bury Maggie's body.
Between 1952 and 1960, she marries Angus T. Jefferson and they have two kids.
- She is the second character portrayed by Angela Bassett. For a complete list of her characters, see Cast. Bassett's portrayal of Desiree earned her a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
- While there is no known medical case of a woman with three breasts, whether by birth or cosmetic surgery, it is a familiar concept in popular culture. It is the unique physical feature of a peripheral character in both Total Recall and its remake, as well as the subject of a hoax perpetrated by Jasmine Tridevil.
- Throughout the season, she is absent from two episodes only: "Monsters Among Us" and "Bullseye."
- To the troupe: "Me and Dell went to go see this show down in Mexico. This señorita could shot ping pong balls out her pop, pop, pop."
- To Dell Toledo: "You go on and do your worst 'cause once they change me down there I'm going to be too much woman for you anyway."
- To a young girl: "I'm a lady, and then some!"
- Desiree: "There ain't no murder if there ain't no body and ain't no Chicago police going to drag his ass all the way down to the swamp on account of some dead poof."
- Desiree: "Three titties, proper girl parts, and a ding-a-ling. I'm a full-blown hermaphrodite. Put that on your banner."
- To Dandy Mott: "Maybe you're right, maybe that's all we are, but let me tell you something, you may look a motion picture dream boat.. but you are the biggest freak of them all!"
- After Dandy's death: "That boy is a star."
- See also: Desiree Dupree/Media
- ↑ Episode: Massacres and Matinees
- ↑ Episode: Edward Mordrake: Part 1
- ↑ Episode: Pink Cupcakes
- ↑ Episode: Test of Strength
- ↑ Episode: Blood Bath
- ↑ Episode: Tupperware Party Massacre
- ↑ Episode: Orphans
- ↑ Episode: Magical Thinking
- ↑ Episode: Show Stoppers
- ↑ Episode: Curtain Call