History of a Manhattan drag bar

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Sally's held a circular bar, two flights above the street, and a small lounge, up another small flight of stairs at the side of the bar. The low-ceilinged lounge area consisted of a dozen small cocktail tables, a pool table, a parquet-tiled open area set aside for the drag shows and go-go boy contests.

Sally's Hideaway: A History

There's also: A Pictorial History of Sally's Hideaway and a portfolio of drag queen photographs.


When I found that site, I fell in love with it. I guess because it reminded me a lot of Ziegfelds when I first came out, and that whole world seemed new, and was both frightening and alluring.

It’s so odd how these seedy places seem to have a glory of their own. That photographer manages to capture that quite well, I think.

When I posted the link I was trying to remember if we’d ever talked about the site before. Seediness can be very liberating. Was for me coming from such clean, wholesome, naive background. One of the pages had a quote from John Rechy about the “FASCINATION” lights. I can’t remember if they were in SF or NYC but I remember the day I saw them. And always saw them in my mind when listening to the old Bowie disco hit.

Took a look at your personal site for the first time in a long time. Hoped I could find the image of yourself out of drag again. Once again I was surprised by your broad shoulders. Don’t know why but in my mind you are small. Liked the B&W shot the best. Not sure why, maybe you look the most self-possessed. Assumed that was Ben in the light blue shirt and glad to know what he looks like. Particularly enoyed seeing you in the purple dress at the bar and in the black hat.

I don’t think we have although I’ve had a link to it on my web site for a long time.

I was the same way. My family is very white bread. I’ve never actually been to NYC. I hear it’s not like it used to be, though. I think, when I first started poking around Ziegfelds, I must have looked like an easy target to some of the really predatory people there. I was so needy. I’m probably lucky I didn’t end up getting raped or something. There’s some scary men there. I think the thing that kept me going, besides the adrenaline high of doing something I knew I wasn’t really supposed to, was that everything seemed dream like. In that smokey, disco-lit world, where all the girls were boys, I started finding out what it meant to be gay like I was gay, and not gay like the boys in the Advocate were gay. I also saw Billie Ross perform and said to myself, “I WANT TO DO THAT!!!”

Regarding my build, people are always shocked to find I’m actually a little bit on the short and thick side. Even people who meet me in person have this idea that I’m this petite little flower, but I’m really not.

The B&W photo is one of the earliest pictures I took of myself in drag. I was just playing with my camera and makeup that evening. The purple dress picture was the first time I went to watch Miss Adam’s Morgan, which I think I told you about. The black hat was just this last Halloween!

Probably it was just that I first saw the site through your link but didn’t think to mention it until I rediscovered it the other day. There must be lots of personal collections from old bars. I hope some of them get preserved instead of going to the city dump.

When I lived in Manhattan I didn’t find it any less safe than the other cities that I lived in. It is always a matter of knowing where to not go. My friends tended to get assaulted in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

I know I’d seen your shoulders before. I guess my own gender filtering tends to imagine you as dainty. I’m glad you’ve always seemed to have the requisite inner-toughness to cope with the hard things you’ve had to cope with.

Well Richard! I was in NY last month and visited a place called The Toolbox - my friend Manny ventured downstairs where I was not allowed and came back with a cum moustache!!! I always love visiting your site! Makes my tiny love button shiver and shudder with twitchy tingles! I was scarpin’ dead skin cells from the bottoms of my dirty feet in the bathtub last night, thinkin’ ‘bout you and your website, when suddenly I farted and BLAMMO! Up jumped the Devil! This, of course, possessed me to want to play Skipbo with Jayzuz of Nazareth and eat corn chips on the spot but … when you gots no cash, ya gots no cash - know what I mean? Much Love, Tesa Lashee Smith Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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Ambiguously Gendered
History of a Manhattan drag bar
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