Johnny Robinson gets his make-up out when he transforms into Sarah Lee

Johnny Robinson has made it into the final 32 on The X Factor, despite - or maybe because - of his unconventional looks.

The singer, who first wowed the judges with his rendition of Etta James standard At Last, is a regular at transvestite clubs in London.

Friends of Johnny, 45, who lives alone in a bedsit, are more familiar with the confident Sarah Lee than the shy auditionee.

‘I couldn't believe it when I saw the show,' says a friend. ‘He's an incredible singer - but it's usually in a wig, dress, knickers and stockings.'

Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland, Louis Walsh and Tulisa Contostavlos weren't expecting much when Johnny arrived on stage in jeans, a tracksuit top and baseball cap.

Then he belted out his song like a professional.

But Johnny is no stranger to television, having already appeared on Stars In Their Eyes as Boy George.

'He may seem shy,' his pals tell the Daily Mirror, 'but he loses all his inhibitions when he's dressed as his alter ego.'

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Liam O'Brien