Sep. 21st, 2014

ailiet: (boldini)
In more remote areas overseas, the USO and the Red Cross provided soldiers with dresses and costume materials. "I was doing a version of a camp show in our spare time," recalled Ben Small, who as a gay Army Air Corpsman was stationed at an atoll near New Guinea, "a little drag number in a parachute. It was just a matter of getting guys together who liked to entertain and putting on a show for the different outfits on the island. I had the effrontery to write to the USO in San Francisco saying, 'Do you have any funny costumes?' Usually it took two months for something to arrive, [but] a couple of weeks later I got called in [to the office] and they said, 'How come you get special air mail delivery?' I said, 'I don't even know what it is' and they said, 'Open it up!' Well, it was dresses. Gold lamé. You have never seen such a collection of shit in your life! Nobody was upset; they just said, 'What the hell is this?' And I said, 'We wanted to do a show and we needed some costumes.' Well, here's everybody in the office from the lieutenant on down trying on dresses! Everybody suddenly becomes a drag queen! That's how we got costumes for the show."

-Allan Berube, Coming Out Under Fire, pg. 84

The most famous of the lesbian proprietors was Eva Kotchever, a Polish Jewish émigré who went by the name Eve Addams (also spelled Adams), an androgynous pseudonym whose biblical origins her Protestant persecutors might well have found blasphemous. Called "the queen of the third sex" by one paper and a "man-hater" by another, after the police crackdown of 1925 she opened a tearoom at 129 MacDougal Street that quickly became popular with the after-theatre crowd. A sign at the door announced "Men are admitted but not welcome."

-George Chauncey, Gay New York, pg. 240

September 2014


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