Ephemeral early 1960s survival from the Blue Dahlia, onetime home of "Chicago's Only Female Impersonator Show!"
Very good plus.
"I still had a wig, a pair of falsies and a pair of high-heeled shoes. I got in touch with an agent and booked a pantomime show into the Kismet Club [...] We moved on to the the Blue Dahlia on North Ave. The show was an instant success and people lined up and down the block to get in." — Tony Midnite
Souvenir of the Blue Dahlia, home of numerous drag revues through the 1960s and 70s. In CHICAGO WHISPERS, Sukie de la St. Croix recalls that in 1964, "Chicago experienced a drag boom. Before the 1960s, performers sang with their own voices, but the 1960s queens pantomimed to 45rpm records [...] Another reason for the boom is that drag queens were popular with the mob [...] The syndicate bosses were also aware of the crossover appeal of female impersonators, and many 1960s drag bars drew busloads of straight tourists," the Blue Dahlia among them. Don Herion's Chicago mob histories recall the Blue Dahlia's evolution from a dismal 1950s bar to a 1960s drag destination: new owner Moe Monaco had reduced the prices and added happy hour specials, but "nothing seemed to work [...] That's when he said that he had an idea of turning the place into a female impersonator club." In spite of constant surveillance, harassment, and raids visited on such clubs by police, the Blue Dahlia survived through the 1970s, drawing a mixed gay and straight clientèle; among the club's more well-known regular performers were the imposingly gorgeous Gayle Sherman and activist-costume designer-impresario Tony Midnite. An extraordinarily ephemeral remnant of this Chicago gay landmark.
Read more: Sukie de la St. Croix, Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall; JD Doyle, queermusicheritage.com.
(Chicago): (Blue Dahlia Cocktail Lounge), [circa 1960s]. 4.25'' x 2''. Original stapled booklet with printed cover and four complete sheets of perforated tear-off tickets. Mild toning and edgewear.
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