An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret in Seattle

Front Cover
Columbia University Press, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 167 pages
1 Review
An Evening at the Garden of Allah tells the story of the community of gays and lesbians that blossomed around the cabaret during an age before the Stonewall rebellion in New York and other uprisings made gay consciousness a public issue. A wealth of arresting photographs from the collections of Jackie Starr, Skippy Larue, and other headliners at the club during the ten years it thrived, breathe life into the personal histories centered around this oasis of gay and lesbian culture.
Through interviews with former patrons and performers, Don Paulson and Roger Simpson capture the joyful evenings where those on stage proclaimed to the gathered audiences, "Come out and be yourselves." Here are the lives of the female impersonators, the Prima Donnas and the Dames, singing ballads to the accompanying roar of the Garden's old theater pipe organ. Dressed regally or garishly as their stage personas demanded, their bravado helped others to affirm and take pride in their lesbian and gay identities. These precursors of today's drag queens blast many deeply rooted assumptions about gender as they detail the excitements, tragedies, and complexities of their day-to-day lives.
Here too are the stories of lesbian and gay audience members who found a home at the Garden, the soldiers and sailors who patronized the club, the fashionable Seattleites slumming on notorious First Avenue, and the tourists who came to be photographed in the Garden's atmosphere of debauchery and abandon.
In its moving portrait of a little-explored chapter in America's gay and lesbian past, An Evening at the Garden of Allah takes readers back in time with a vivid oral history of this special cabaret. Paulson, Simpson, and their informants present the story of a place where ideas about repression, identity, and resistance were beginning to be openly discussed, where hopes and dreams of liberation took shape.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret in Seattle (Between Men~Between Women series)

User Review  - Karl - Goodreads

The 2004 novel Queer Street by Curt Colbert concerns a murder that takes place at Seattle's The Garden of Allah nightclub in the 1940s. Read full review

Contents

introduction OPENING NIGHT AT THE GARDEN OF ALLAH i
1
Seattle in the 1930s
20
LETS GO TO THE GARDEN
29
ITS OUR PLACE TOO
57
amateur night
69
the jewel box revue
80
backstage with the cast
89
one impersonators
124
three headliners
135
epilogue
164
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1996)

Edward D. berkowitz is professor of history and public policy and public administration at George Washington University. He is the author of eight books and the editor of three collections. During the seventies he served as a staff member of the President's Commission for a National Agenda, helping President Carter plan for a second term that never came to be.

Bibliographic information