A Bit of Woman in Every Man Creating Queer Community in

Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012 1 A Bit of Woman in Every Man Creating Queer Community in Female Impersonation BY MARA DAUPHIN In 1939 two entrepreneurs named Doc Brenner and Danny Brown catapulted onto the.

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�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012“A Bit of Woman in Every Man”Creating Queer Community in Female Impersonation
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012the show.”Varietyis quoted on the back of a Jewel Box Revue program from the late fifties reporting the positive impact of the show’s popularity on Pittsburgh nightlifeDoc and Danny’s Miami Beach ‘Jewel Box Revue’ at Balconades in Pittsburgh, has prompted a flock of other niteries around there to goin for female impersonator shows in effort to boost drooping tradeBiz has been terrific right from the beginning of the Jewel Box engagement, and has shown no let up in the more than eight weeksIf anything, it’s building every stanza.On the other side of the countryFrank Reid and Fred Coleman launched a similar enterprise on Seattle’s notoriously licentiousFirst AvenueThroughout the forties, businessesboomed in Seattle, which had been an important military port during World War IIInspiredby the model of Finocchio’s, a pioneering female impersonation cabaretthat opened in San Francisco in Reid and Coleman capitalized on the city’s newfound vivacity, andn 1946, they transformed a rundown Victorianera hotel and former speakeasy into the Garden of Allah cabaret, Seattle’s premier female impersonation revue.The club’s opening night featured the Jewel Box Revue and quickly attracted not only the straight tourism that made Finocchio’s famous, but also local gay men and lesbiansdemographic that hadnot been particularly encouraged or protected at Finocchio’sIt is true that some members of thefemale impersonation industry feared and retaliated against the generalassociation of sexual deviance (particularly homosexuality and transvestitism) with any sort of crossdressingArticulating a popular attitudeailor Orv Buerge recalledhis surprised reaction to female impersonation revue in 1934:“We just looked &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 6 ;&#x/MCI; 6 ;2 Jerry Ross, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah(New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 82.Varietyclipping, n.d., on back of Jewel Box Revue program, Box 5, Kramer Initiative Transgender Collection, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University.Finocchio’s program, 1950, Queer Music Heritage, http://www.queermusicheritage.us/oct2002f.html.Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah(New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 1
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012at each other and walked outWe said, ‘To hell with those queers.’”Theoretically, any homoerotic overtones or overtly queer performers would repel the straight publiclike Buergethat constituted a majority of their audienceHowever, this paperwill argue that the atmosphereof queernessprovided by these burgeoningfemale impersonation revuesaccounted for much of the appeal to straight audiences. Moreover, while the existence of the industry relied on a rhetoric that denied queernesslargescale female impersonation revues were highly instrumental in creating queer communities and carving out queerniches of urban landscape in postwar America that would flourish into the sexual revolution of the sixties.Female Impersonation and NormativityFostering queer communities was never the stated goal ofthese female impersonation establishmentsTheoretically, their purpose was solely to provide wholesome entertainment, unconnected to any sexual devianceAccording to the mission statement in the Jewel Box Revue programBrenner and Brown had nothing butartistic aspirations for their venture“Recognizing that female impersonation is a true art, and not the burlesque it had come to be,the program claims,they decided to bring back the glories of a neglected field in entertainment.”Indeed, managers often took great care to hireextremely talented men to performImpersonator Jack“Jackie”Starr, a memberof the Jewel Box Revue before the war and a headliner at the Garden of Allah for ten years after the war, was a man of many talentsWelltrained in acting, voice, and classical ballet, not only was Starrone of the age’s only male &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 8 ;&#x/MCI; 8 ;6 Orv Buege, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 9.Jewel Box Revue program.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012entertainers to dance en pointe, but he also had several stints as a fillin for the famous uptown New York stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and with the Radio City Music Hall as aRockette.Female impersonators have historically been eager to emphasize the very real skillf men such asJack StarrThe spring 1968 issue of Female Mimics, a magazine about and for the female impersonators, is careful to remind their readers that impersonation is an art “perfected through hours and hours of arduous rehearsal.”This claim to artistry helped to legitimize for straight audiences an industryoften stigmatized by an association with sexual deviance.To further their claims to legitimacy, female impersonation revues often recalledfamous historical examples of theatrical crossdressingThe first issue of She magazine in 1966 asserted that female impersonation “existed nearly 6,000 years ago and has persisted despite public opposition or prejudice against this bizarre form of dress.”The Elizabethan tradition of men playing all theatrical female rolewas frequently cited, as were more antiquated literary references to figures such asAchilles, whose mother dressed him as agirl to hide him from Odysseus, or Heracles, who was said to wear women’s clothing while serving Omphale, the queen of LydiaSo anxious were the female impersonators to root their trade in historical and artistic traditionthat they occasionally indulgedin some alarming historical sensationalismis said,” reports Carlson Wade of Shemagazine, “that the virgin Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII was really a boy!”This desire to find popular links to crossdressing helped the female impersonators to craft allusions to contemporary popular culture as wellThe performers found a lot to mimic &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 4 ;&#x/MCI; 4 ;8 Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 151153.“At Home with a Female Mimic,” Female Mimics, Spring 1968, 47.Carlson Wade, “Men in Skirts,” HeShe, 1966, 15.Carlson Wade“Men in Skirts,”
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012the new, glamorous Hollywood personas of stars likeKatharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Marilyn Monroe, celebrities familiar to any audience throughout the war and the postwar period“Mimics will duplicate popular female stage, screen, or television stars,” one article explainsThe interpretations are in good taste and seriously portrayed.”Mr. Lynne Carter, for example, was “famed for hisimpersonation of Pearl Bailey.”Billy Parkin, an employee at the Garden of Allah, affectionately recalls that Billy DeVoe, impersonator and frequent emceewas known as “The Blonde Lana Turner”based on his legs and style of dress.requentlyhowever,these actsofferedmore of parodies or lampoons of Hollywoodthan perfect imitationJewel Box impersonator Gita Gilmore, for example, was well renownedfor her Mae West imitationIt is clear from pictures, however, that Gilmore, though immaculately dressed, was ather heavyset and ostentatiousin a way that would render an accurate impersonation impossible.Similarly, a1974 issue of Female Mimicsreports that comedian Jim Bailey had made his way to the top of the entertainment industry through “clever and biting impressions of Barbra Streisand and Phyllis Diller and a host of other female celebrities.”This sortof socialsatire offers another legitimate function for the female impersonation revues that is entirely separate from any queer identitIndeed, divorcing the profession of female impersonation from queer identity was very important to many in the impersonation communityMany of these men had worked hard to get female impersonation to the new, lofty position it enjoyed in the nightclub entertainment &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 3 ;&#x/MCI; 3 ;12 Carlson Wade, “Men in Skirts59.“The Jewel Box Revue,” Female Mimics, 1963, 52.Billy Parkin, interview in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 34.Photo of Gita Gilmore, Jewel Box Revue photos, n.d., Box 66, Folder 6, Candida Scott Piel Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University.“Editorial” in Female Mimics, 1974, 3.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012circuit, and any association of extratheatrical homosexuality or transvestitism could permanently damage the impersonators’ ability to be taken seriously as artists or even to draw straight audiencePlagued by this popular conception that “all mimics are homosexuals who want to be women,”ven the famously gayfriendly Garden of Allah cabaret went so far as to hire a couple of offduty police officers for every show in order to make sure that two patrons of the same sex did not touch each other in any way that could be considerederotic.It was crucial, in such a social atmosphere, to define female impersonation as a category apart from drag queens and transvestites, and the community forums of impersonation magazines like Female Mimicsand Shedid their best to make this distinction clearFor example, aedition of Female Mimicscontained several interviews with anonymous female impersonators expressing their masculinity“I like being male,” reports one“I like the male role in sex…Maybe I’ll get married and raise a familySounds strangedoesn’t it? But many mimics are that way...Some are more masculine than those rugged hemen you see in the movies!”letter to the editor of She from former female impersonator Terry Taylor toes a similar line when he makes a point of congratulating the magazine for having “shown the public a good view of the female impersonator, letting them know that this is an art of performance, rather thana way of life.”Virginia Prince, editor of Femme Mirror, a regular publication for femmiphiles (heterosexual men who present themselves as women to varying degrees)was also eager to mark the distinction, fearing that the association could be harmful o legitimate &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 2 ;&#x/MCI; 2 ;17 “At Home with a Female Mimic,” Female Mimics, Spring 1968, 48.Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 14.Anonymous, quoted in “At Home with a Female Mimic,” Female Mimics, Spring 1968, 47.Terry Taylor, “Letter to the Editor,” HeShe, 1966, 55.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012“femmiphiles” by encouraging men who weren’t professionals to try to pass themselves publicly as womenThe professional impersonator on the stage is 99 times out of 100 NOT an FP [femmiphile]He may be beautiful and talented, but usually itis just a job he does…Feel your femininity, and express it, but do not impose it on society just to prove that you can, because with this attitude in mind, you will probably give yourself away.In some cases, female impersonators were so eager to distance the profession from a queer lifestyle that they adopted a homophobic attitude in some of their publicationsOne such example is a 1972 pamphlet,careful to draw a distinction between femaleimpersonators and rag queensIn a reproachful toneanonymous authoruses the drag queen, whom he or she has already established to be inherently homosexual, tomake an implicit link between prostitution and homosexuality“The Drag Queen, not being in show business where his talents of dressing and acting as a female could be profitable, and not only dressing in the clothes to calm his sensual desires will turn to ----prostitution.”A 1966 issue of She argues that female impersonators are so highly “trained in the art of deceptive makeup and femininemanner, they are a far cry from the barroom fag with his simpering ways.”Female Mimics, too, refers to gay or transgendermenas “incomplete” or “mincing” males and reports, “hese are a small percentage of the world of female mimics but their exaggerated behavior, their often outlandish gestures make them stand out and overshadow the normal percentage of female mimics who can be as masculine as prize fighters or wrestlers when out of costume.”This aggressive &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 5 ;&#x/MCI; 5 ;21 Virginia Prince, “A Word About Going Out,” Femme Mirror, March 1962, 1.Anonymous, The Drag Queen(Seattle: Empathy Press, 1972)HeShe, 1966, 3.“At Home with a Female Mimic,” Female Mimics, 48.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012emphasis on the heterosexuality of female impersonators and their art demonstrates the extent to which the industry required protection from a nation languishing in a homophobia institutionalized by the McCarthy eraHowever, as the female impersonators themselves so often demonstrated, things are not always exactly what they claim to be, for, despite their public relations efforts, female impersonation revues constituted a very clearlyqueer space.Building Queer CommunitiesFirst of all, the legitimizing heteronormative idea that these revues were fundamentally anchored in an ancient theatrical history of nonsexual crossdressing is misleading at bestThe most commonly cited example of this ancestry is Shakespearean crossdressingOneJewel Box Revue program asserted that, “Even Shakespeare originally created the role of Juliet to be played by a young MAN, not a woman.”While it is true that men played all female roles in Elizabethan theater, that practice was a product of the period’s legal prohibition of women on the stage, more thanof the desires of the playwrights or performersMany of the historical examples are misleading as wellShe’s Men in Skirtsarticle atures long segments on historical figures like Nero and the Abbé de Choisy, whom the article claims were female impersonatorsAgain, while there is general consensus among historiansthat these men dabbled in crossdressing, it was almost certainly done for personal fulfillment rather than for any sort of commercial enterprise, which therefore brings their crossessing closer to transvestitism, defined in the same article as “yearn[ing] to wear feminine clothes throughout &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 8 ;&#x/MCI; 8 ;25 Jewel Box Revue program.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012the day and not just for the purpose of entertainment.”For one ting, the flimsiness of the hyped ancestry reveals how new this type of venueactually was, but, more importantly, thisnarrative woven by producers and magazines served as nothing more than a smokescreen to misdirect theindustry’s newly created hiveof homosexual, transvestite, and transgender activityWhile it is certainly true that many of the men involved in female impersonation were heterosexual and/or eventually settled into heterosexual lives, there is bountiful evidence to suggest that the promotional material and magazines that surrounded the industry gavegross underestimateof the inclusion of gay and transgender men in the female impersonation communityOne of the features of the new impersonation shows that emerged during and after wartime was that, in many cases, these new cabarets and tours were owned and operated by gay entrepreneursBrenner and Brown, of the Jewel Box Revue, never revealed their sexualities in their own promotional material, but anecdotes and interviews reveal that they were a coupleTo drive home this point, Jerry Rossreported that both Brenner and Brown’s mothers travelled with the show and that Mrs. Brown affectionately referred to her son as her little “faggilist.”Still, as a stationaryurbanrevue whose owners, Reid and Coleman, were openly gay,The Garden of Allah cabaret holds a more decisive place in historyas the first openly gayowned gay bar in Seattle and one of the first in the United States.This is particularly importantbecause ithelped to foster a welcome environment for homosexual and transgender communitiesAt the end of World War II,when staggering &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 4 ;&#x/MCI; 4 ;26 Carlson Wade, “Menin Skirts58.Jerry Ross, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 85.Preface, Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, xi.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012numbers of released soldiers and sailorssomeof them gay men and lesbians,returned to taste the social freedoms of newly accessible urban centers, gay communities were able to form with a neweaseThe subsequent antihomosexual reactionto this influx produced a frenzy of police raids and entrapment of homosexuals in barsall over the country, which in turn allowed the afia to get a hold on the gay bar/entertainment industry in cities like New York City and ChicagoWith the Mafia came increased police corruption and exploitation of gay and lesbian customers.Even nightclubs run by conspicuously heterosexual nonMafia peoplelike the notoriously cranky Finocchiofamily of SanFrancisco’s club Finocchio’s were not always considered to be gayfriendlyRobin Raye, an impersonator who performed at the Garden of Allah, Finocchio’s, and The Jewel Box Revue at varioustimes in his career, said of Mrs. Finocchio, “I don’t think she liked gay people, but she certainly knew how to use them.”In addition to the owners of the clubs, many of the performers had some sort of queer or deviant leaningsIn Don Paulson’s collection of interviews with patrons and performers at the Garden of Allah cabaret, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, he establishes that many female impersonatorswere gayor bisexual, and several made up the first generation of candidates for modern sexreassignment surgeryJackie Starr, for example, was openly bisexual, had longterm relationships with both men and women, and fathered several children.In his interview with Paulson, Jewel Box Revue headlinerRicky Reynolds talks very candidly about his own scandalous homosexual relationship with an FBI agent and his experiences with fighting gay&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 3 ;&#x/MCI; 3 ;29 David Carter, Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution(New York: Macmillan, 2004), 18.Robin Raye, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 121.Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 153.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012bashing.Countess Estelle, a Garden favorite and USO entertainer, discussed her transgender feelings with Paulson“I’ve always wanted to have a sex changence I was five, I’ve felt more like a woman than like a man…I feel Countess Estelle is the real me.”Hardy comedienne impersonator Hotcha Hinton dressed as a woman both on and offstage and fought fiercely to be referred to as a woman“If a telephone operator answered with ‘Yes, Sir,’” friend and colleague Skippy LaRue recalled, “Hotcha would fly into a royal rage and scream into the phone, ‘I’m a woman; can’t you tell a lady when you hear one?’”Lee Leonard, a Seattlebased female impersonator, went down in history by becoming Liz Lyons in his sixties making him one of the oldest people to have a sex change.Almost all of Paulson’s interviews reveal the Garden of Allah and similar cabaretsto be atmospheres where forms of queerness were accepted and, to a certain degree, normalPaulson goes so far as to say that all of the star impersonators at the Garden of Allah were gay.Many of the interviews themselves read like comingout storieslinking involvement with these female impersonation revues as the defining moment that pushed these men to selfdiscoveryThe new gayrun tours and clubs provided queer members of their cast, staff, and audience with a higher degree of personal comfortRegular customer, Rita Kelsey, remembers the extent to which the Garden administration would protect from any homophobic influence[Frank Reid]tried to be neutral but the evenings were for the gay kids.”Garden Impersonator Mother Cabrini, whose anxiety over his homosexuality had driven him to drug &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 3 ;&#x/MCI; 3 ;32 Ricky Reynolds, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 97.Countess Estelle, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 78Skippy LaRue, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 149.Don PaulsonAn Evening at the Garden of Allah, 38.Ibid, 15.Rita Kelsey, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 58.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012addiction, also recalled the relative comfort of being gay in the Garden“It was ‘our place,’ it was my place to find out who I was.”In the preface to An Evening at the Garden of AllahPaulsonstates that he believes the protection and affirmation that the gayun Garden cabaret gave Seattle gay men and lesbians, as well as the performers,allowed important steps to be taken towards the creation of a greater urban LGBTcommunity“Being ‘out’ at the Garden in an oppressive time for gays and lesbians,” Paulson claims, “was a giant step toward having the confidence to form political groups, challenge police authority, and pound on the doors at City Hall.”A gay community had carved a home for itself in the heart of the urban center in the shape of a genderbending female impersonation club.The revues were, at this point, in the awkward position of being very clearly and appealingly queer and dominated by gay men and lesbians. However, at the same time, their place in society relied on the idea of being nothing more than a slight twist on heterosexual nightlifeNevertheless, it would be naïve to assume that the revues’ unofficialbut palpably queeraura did not constitute a significant amount of the appeal for the straight audiences that went to see the shows“It was straight audiences that supported the [Jewel Box] Revue,” asserted Jerry Ross, and much of the content of the shows consisted ofvery open homoerotic play with the audience.Kim Drake, impersonator and emcee at the Garden of Allah, used to introduce the show with an acknowledgement of the clubs reputation and of what the audience came for.Good evening, Ladies and GentlemenYou know who you are, but all your reputations were ruined anyway the minute you walked down the stairsSo you &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 4 ;&#x/MCI; 4 ;38 Mother Cabrini, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 45.Preface, Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, xixii.Jerry Ross, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 81.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012might as well sit back and relax and enjoy the show because we are going to enjoy itWelcome to the gay, glamorous, gorgeous Garden of Allah where boys meet girls and sometimes you can’t tell the difference.The punchline of any female impersonation act is, of course, that the ostensibly womanly figure performing is actually a manWhile this is usually revealed at the end of the act, audiences who court this kind of entertainment are never really fooled by the illusionEveryone in the club knows that the performers are men from beginning to endMany of the performances like Gita Gilmore’s Mae West impersonation did not even take great care to keep up the illusionHarry, a Female Mimicscover girl, used his masculinity very heavily in his act, for example“You’ll notice,” reports the magazine,that he doesn’t believe in hiding his manly hairlegsand his makeup accents ratherthan hides his features.”In such cases where the men so poorly resemble women, the straight audience can have no real doubt as to the sexof the performerStill, the acts, many of which include elaborate stripteases and raunchy burlesques, are intended to titillate the audience with a hint (or sometimes more) of homoeroticism that would be highly unacceptable outside of the cabaretDrake offers an explanation of female impersonatorallure that is, indeed, entirely personal and even sexual“They have the fantasy of it being a woman and all the tenderness and expertise a guy can give.”Danny Brown of the Jewel Box Revue comes very close to acknowledging this appeal explicitly in the Revue’s program, when he says, “e appeal a lot to the intellectual who can understand this quirk in man’s natureThere is a bit of woman in every man.”his knowing without acknowledging presents a sort of tourism for a straight audienceway to explore homosexual or transgender &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 5 ;&#x/MCI; 5 ;41 Kim Drake, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 104.“Harry,” Female Mimics, Spring 1968, 45.Ibid.Danny Brown, quoted in Jewel Box Revue program.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012mental space while still idingbehind the idea that the audience is being tricked into thinking the performers arewomen.This microcosm of straight voyeurism of the queercommunity is shown in larger scalein many American cities inthis time periodIn Gay New York, historian George Chauncey describesthe emerging spectacle of gay street life in New York City during Prohibition andthroughoutthe thirtiesA highly visible street culture of drag balls and swishy queens constituted a brand new type of nightlife for straight and gay citydwellersalikeLatenight cafeterias with plateglass windows like Stewart’s and the Life Cafeteria, both at Sheridan Square, would fill up with gay men, creating a show of campfor the straight patrons and passersby. Chauncey points out that these locations were even noted in tourism books like the 9 WPA Guide to New York Cityand suggests that showcasing the gay men was part of a business plan.Cafeterias,” the guidebook said, “seem to have premised their latenight operations on the assumption that by allowing lesbians and gay men to gather there they would attract sightseers out to gawk at a latenight ‘fairy hangout.’”Thissort of spectacle took a slightly more sinister form by way of circus sideshowsHotcha Hinton, for example, would take annual leave from the Garden of Allahin order to travel with a circusSkippy LaRue, Hotcha’s friend and cohort, recalled some of the highly erotic Xrated shows that the impersonators would put on for men only“We would be all tucked in and taped and it would appear to look like the real thingBy this time the men were so horny they’d believe anything.”Female impersonation of this sort is even more clearly &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 4 ;&#x/MCI; 4 ;45 George Chauncey, Gay New York(New York: Basic Books, 1994), 167.Skippy LaRue, quoted in Don Paulson, An Evening at the Garden of Allah, 133.
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012homoeroticbut at the same time mimicking a very clear heterosexual model of eroticism that makes it acceptable.The public visibility aspect of female impersonation gives its importance another dimension to queer communityIn addition to fostering a comfortable urban space in which young people could be out, largescale shows, especially national tours like the Jewel Box Revue, had an almost educational functionBy providing cities across Americahowever temporarilywith a visible and partiallyaccepted queer community, the emergence of these evues during and after World War II helped many young gay and transgender men around the country selfactualize and empower themselves in the following decadesBoth Female Mimicsand She, which emerged in the sixties around the decline of many of the larger shows, revealthemselves to be interested in encouraging a new generation of men using the female impersonators of the postwar era as a queer lifestyle modelStill unwilling (or unable)to explicitly refer to female impersonation as a mostly queer community, these magazines displayed their encouragement of transgender men or transvestites in their published letters to the editorMost of the men whose letters were published described themselves as “amateur” female impersonatorsand nearly all of them included pictures of themselves in usually everydayfeminine attireto be published alongside their letterThese letters andpictures show no hint ofglitter or performance, but rather averagelooking men who have transformed themselves into averagelooking women for whatis almost certainly personal pleasurerather than commercial profitOne letter to Shefrom a reader in Chicago illustrates the extent to which female impersonation and the publications that surround the industry havehelped to bring together a national transvestite community:
�� &#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;Valley Humanities Review Spring 2012I admire your courage in presenting the case for the transvestite to the general publicThere are far more of us than is generally realized, but many of us don’t realize that there are others with the same taste for changing roles as we possessTo know we are not alone is to improve our mental outlook. The largescale female impersonation revuesof the postwar eratransitioningin the sixties from Vaudevilletype female impersonation shows to the lipsynching spectacles now called drag revues, had created queer communities that were able to subtly market their queerness while building confidence and identity from withinEven though they had to hide to a certain extent behind an official rhetoric of heteronormativeentertainment, the appeal of many of these shows was the ability for straight audiences to peek safely into an alternative lifestyleThis also enabled urban, closeted gay men, lesbians, transgender men and women, and transvestites to view an exaggerated and campy refuge in the city where they could be out and find others like themThis hope extended into rural and suburban areas, where even hearing about a travelling troupe of female impersonators playingbig citiescould be an affirming step towards selfdiscoveryIn this way, largescale drag revues during and immediately after World War II helped to expandqueer communities andkeep them focused on who they were in a time of institutionalized homophobia.&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ;&#x/Att;¬he; [/; ott;&#xom ];&#x/BBo;&#xx [7;�.21; 9;&#x.084;&#x 538;&#x.416;&#x 90.;ࠄ ;&#x]/Su; typ; /F;&#xoote;&#xr /T;&#xype ;&#x/Pag;&#xinat;&#xion ; &#x/MCI; 4 ;&#x/MCI; 4 ;47 R.K., “Letter to the Editor,” HeShe, 1966, 50.

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