Halloween Thoughts   1 comment

Halloween 3 years

There is a distinct difference between cross dressers, drag queens and the neighbors who put a lamp shade on their head for Halloween. And neither catagory necessarily means the person is gay or has a sexual identity problem. I don’t profess to be an expert on any of these subjects though I have enjoyed Jim Bailey as Barbra Streisand in his one man show in Las Vegas. I am not a fan of ‘Dame Edna’ but I loved Charles Pierce and who didn’t laugh at Flip Wilson as Geraldine?

Since ancient days men have gone on stage dressed as women and the Shakespearean era was known for not allowing women on stage. There was “Shakespeare in Love” where Gwyneth Paltrow had to play a young man auditioning for the role of Romeo. Who hasn’t laughed at Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag in “Some Like It Hot” or enjoyed Dustin Hoffman as “Tootsie”?

 What does all this have to do with Halloween being a Gay holiday? What follows is MY experience and what I observed over the years. Now I haven’t been into a gay bar in years so I don’t know if this Halloween we will still see hundreds of Judy Garlands and Nuns but at one time both were a symbol of the holiday.

In the 1950s and 1960s many States had laws on the books–and some probably still do–that a man could not dress as a woman or he could be arrested. In fact I went to a number of bars, called the Bird Circuit, in New York where men were not allowed to touch each other.

There were infamous drag balls in Harlem that were known far and wide attended by many socialites. The costumes were outrageous, each one more glamorous than the next one and though illegal it went on without a hitch. Dressing up in costume for Halloween became high art and some of the grandest balls were held that night.Just last season HBO did a series called “Pose” which told that story.

I vaguely remember being in the Faision D’Or bar one Halloween sort of surprised by all the women who were in there–hey I was young back then–only to slowly became aware it was men. Living in New York drag shows were nothing new and in fact there was a nightclub that catered to tourists where the cast was all men dressed as women except for one woman dressed as a man. Yes even back then drag was an accepted form of entertainment.

There was a bar on Miami Beach that was off LIncoln Road on Alton Road that in the early 1960s did drag revues and a few blocks south was the famous Jewel Box Revue that traveled all over the USA and would be nodded to by the character Paul in “A Chorus Line” in 1975.

There being drag in New York and Florida really didn’t surprise me but I was surprised to find a drag bar–don’t remember the name–in Memphis, Tennessee, when I moved there in 1969. I, also, remember the high caliber, finely polished drag show I saw in Sidney, Australia, a few years later where it was all live music including the singing but that’s another blog.

Halloween as a big gay holiday hit home to me when I moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1979 and went to The Sandpiper nightclub that October 31. At that time we had 4 different gay magazines/bar guides/newspapers and the ‘Best Costume’ events were being held in every bar–gay or nongay–but the biggest awards/ prizes were in the gay bars. That was the night I thought the whole world was made up of Judy Garland!

 

Look at the date on the bottom picture and I realize it is exactly 32 years ago and I still recognize that guy–WOW!! I was never into the Halloween scene especially since the 1970s when everyone dressed as either Judy Garland or a Nun! At that time I was working at Wag’s on University Drive and Commercial Boulevard–it has since been 3 different businesses–and Gonzalez, who I had worked with in New York, had brought in a painting kit knowing I wouldn’t be dressed up for Halloween and got to work so there I was walking around serving customers as a cat! Back in ‘those days’ we didn’t have phones with cameras or point and shoot digital cameras so there were no selfies or such! I was looking through my pictures because I know I have one of my two friend’s, each named Michael, dressed up to go out to the bars–yes one was Judy and the other a Nun–but I can’t find it–will have to look again. Thinking of the holiday and the year I realize it is also 32 years ago both Michaels and one of my mentors, Albyn, died, 2 in the month of October. The three of them loved celebrating Halloween and it has become a bitter sweet time for me–I miss them but I see kids all dressed up getting ready to ‘trick or treat’ and I just want to say Happy Halloween and have a lot of fun! Sadly in 2018 I also have to add ‘BE SAFE’!

 

 

Look at the date on the bottom picture and I realize it is exactly 32 years ago and I still recognize that guy–WOW!! I was never into the Halloween scene especially since the 1970s when everyone dressed as either Judy Garland or a Nun! At that time I was working at Wag’s on University Drive and Commercial Boulevard–it has since been 3 different businesses–and Gonzalez, who I had worked with in New York, had brought in a painting kit knowing I wouldn’t be dressed up for Halloween and got to work so there I was walking around serving customers as a cat! Back in ‘those days’ we didn’t have phones with cameras or point and shoot digital cameras so there were no selfies or such! I was looking through my pictures because I know I have one of my two friend’s, each named Michael, dressed up to go out to the bars–yes one was Judy and the other a Nun–but I can’t find it–will have to look again. Thinking of the holiday and the year I realize it is also 32 years ago both Michaels and one of my mentors, Albyn, died, 2 in the month of October. The three of them loved celebrating Halloween and it has become a bitter sweet time for me–I miss them but I see kids all dressed up getting ready to ‘trick or treat’ and I just want to say Happy Halloween and have a lot of fun! Sadly in 2018 I also have to add ‘BE SAFE’!

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Posted October 31, 2018 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, HOLIDAYS, LIFE, LIFE EVENTS, Uncategorized

One response to “Halloween Thoughts

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  1. I have always wanted to go to a drag show. Not sure there is one in Maine….
    Although the LGBTQ community in Portland does a huge Halloween Ball. It looks like so much fun!!

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