Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Trader Vic's

Trader Vic's
The "other" Trader Vic's in Dallas
Trader Vic's

Location: 3018 Monticello Avenue, Dallas Texas, USA

Opened: 1962

Closed: 1967

According to Through the years: Dallas’ gay culture, Trader Vic's was the State of Texas' first lesbian bar. It was opened in 1962 by Donna Foster, who reportedly died in March 2002.

This was NOT part of the California-based chain of  Polynesian restaurant called Trader Vic's that opened across the U.S. back in the 1960s. In fact, Trader Vic's (the lesbian bar) predated Trader Vic's (the restaurant), which didn't open in Dallas until 1967. (That Trader Vic's was located on Mockingbird and North Central Expressway, and closed in 1989. It then reopened in March 2007 before closing again in 2010.) There was actually a court battle in May 1967 over the Trader Vic's name, which the lesbian bar lost.  Note that the newspaper article (see to the side) does not mention Donna Foster, but states that the owner's name is Ethyl Boyd.

Started the search on these pioneering women. But I quickly figured out that there are too many women named "Donna Foster" for this to be an easy project. Surprisingly, there are lots of women named "Ethyl Boyd" or "Ethel Boyd" as well. Perhaps the most promising candidate is an Ethyl Boyd who (in the 1940 Census) lived on Belmont Street in the City of Dallas. That particular Ethyl would have been in her mid-60s about the time of the lawsuit. But I'm not yet convinced this is the right party.

If anybody has a lead let me know. Otherwise, I'll just keep plowing through and other on-line obituaries and see if they show up.

It looks like the original site for the lesbian Trader Vic's was demolished for road work. And I can find no other photos.

Sort of an aside: It is not unheard of for a lesbian place to lose the right to use its own name. The same thing happened to the Amazon Bookstore Cooperative in Minneapolis (later known after the True Colors Bookstore) after their 10-year fight with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Conference Room

Dallas 1960s
The Conference Room

Location: Dallas, Texas, USA

Opened/Closed: 1960s, 1970s

Although "interesting" and "masters thesis" would seem to be a contradiction in terms, this thesis by Karen S. Wisely called "The 'Dallas Way' in the Gayborhood" has some pretty fascinating material.

For our purposes though, I'm going to limit our discussion to a lesbian bar called The Conference Room and the gender segregation/control of space within the so-called LGBT community.

Here's what she says about The Conference Room:

While bars that catered to primarily homosexual patrons were able to exist in Dallas at that time [i.e. the early 1960s], one should not assume that such a practice was widely accepted. Police raids occurred regularly in the Dallas bars, just like in other cities, and the bars dealt with the inevitability of those events. For example, the door person for The Conference Room, a lesbian bar where businesswomen met after work, turned on a red light whenever she saw police or just someone who looked out of place near the bar. When that happened, the patrons inside would stop dancing, move away from each other and the underage crowd would sneak out a bathroom window. Another method of police harassment in gay bars was for the vice squad to conduct sting operations; however, those were more common in the men's bars.

Other lesbian bars that had the flashing red light thing include the Sea Colony in New York and the Canyon Club in Los Angeles.

Wisely also tells us that the gay bars in Dallas were patronized by both gay men and lesbians till the 1970s--though, admittedly, the bars were dominated by gay men. But then the bars became increasingly segregated by sex.

Conference of Secretaries in
Dallas, Texas (June 1959) -
No pants then either
Throckmorton Mining Company - a gay male bar
now closed
When a bar decided that it wanted to focus on serving one particular gender (usually men), it most often issued a restrictive dress policy. In 1979, for example, several bars including the Old Plantation, Throckmorton Mining Company and Magnolia's, prohibited admission to women wearing jeans. This policy was not only discriminatory against all women, but was obviously focused on lesbians - and butch lesbians in particular - who were much more likely than heterosexual women to go out attired in jeans. Dress codes, when applied equally to all customers, were legal and perfectly reasonable; however, the same bars that refused jeans-wearing women allowed men clad in blue jeans with no difficulty whatsoever.

It was also common for sex (and race) segregation to be maintained by demanding extra identification from those deemed undesirable by the bar management.

Wisely's source for this information is largely drawn from her interview with Karen Jack, who has an extensive history working in gay and lesbian bars in Dallas. Jack also experienced anti-lesbian employment policies at the largely male clubs, which were dominated by a single conglomerate.

Kathy Jack, proprietor of Jack's Backyard in Oak Cliff and for the first sixteen years of its existence the manager of Sue Ellen's [a lesbian bar] in Dallas, has worked in gay bars since the early 1980s. She managed a lesbian bar called The Unicorn very successfully for four years. Yet, when The Unicorn closed and she needed a job, she encountered difficulties because she was female. Caven Enterprises, who owned four gay bars, the Old Plantation, Throckmorton Mining Company, J.R.'s and 4001, did not want to hire her. Finally, the general manager took a chance and hired her as a door person for the Old Plantation. Two months later, she was a manager there. Even then, she recalled that on her first day as manager, the staff, made up entirely of men except for a single female bartender, called her "dyke" under their breath every time she walked past. She won them over eventually, but at first, the work environment was somewhat hostile.

Caven Enterprises, Dallas' largest owner of gay bars and clubs, formed in 1969 and has operated numerous nightclubs in the area since then, opened their first lesbian bar, Sue Ellen's, only in January of 1989 after years of lobbying by Kathy Jack. In spite of the many lesbian-focused bars that have thrived over the years in Dallas, no one at Caven thought such a place could succeed. When the Old Plantation changed into the Village Station and began to stay open until four in the morning on weekends for after-hours dancing, a large contingency of lesbians showed up from other bars. Jack never gave up and continued to suggest a women's bar to her bosses at every opportunity. Finally, they relented but delayed more than another whole year before Sue Ellen's opened. Thanks in part to the work of Kathy Jack and others like her, Sue Ellen's thrived and Caven Enterprises' employment practices changed considerably.

Maybe Wisely finds this an inspiring story; I find it maddening. The fact that lesbians spend years groveling before men (gay or straight), begging them to open a facility that will ultimately make money for them off of women--well, that just shows that it isn't just a few insensitive or "sexist" beliefs that need to be changed. It's a whole money/power structure dominated by men.

Follow ups on the some of the other places mentioned:

Other than this reference to the Unicorn, which shows that it was open at least as early as 1984, I haven't found much more about it.

Sue Ellen's is still in business, though it moved to a new location in May 2008.

Jack's Backyard opened on October 31, 2008 and closed on June 26, 2011. We'll have to look at this place in more detail another time.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Vintage Images of Womyn's Space

Not my usual post here. But just stumbled on to a very neat site with vintage photos and paintings of various eating/drinking establishments. And as luck would have it, some of these were womyn's spaces. So here are a few samples. Enjoy!

Anom., Gay party in the "Eldorado", Berlin, 1926
The Eldorado was a gay bar closed down in the early 1930s by the Nazis. Though it was mixed, it seemed to be a fairly friendly place for lesbians.

Jeanne Mammen, At Kranzler's, Berlin 1929
Café Kranzler has been in existence since the early 19th century. It is not a womyn's space per se. But Jeanne Mammen (1890-1986) was a great illustrator and painter of women, especially lesbians. Through her paint brush, these three powerful women make the café into their own space.

Edward Burra, The Taverna,  1924

Edward Burra (1905-1976) was an English painter best known for his "depictions of the urban underworld." It seems lesbian bars were included in those depictions.  

 Rudolf Schlichter, Damenkneipe (Ladies Dive), 1923

Rudolph Schlichter (1890-1955) was another German artist associated with the Weimar period.



Location: 606 East 7th Street, Austin, Texas, USA

Opened: October 2010 (Grand Opening December 2010)

Closed: April 2013

Here's how she introduced herself at her website:

Lipstick24 is dedicated to offer the best ladies focused, gay friendly, bar, club and all around great hangout for the entire community. 

We strive to provide a safe, open and supportive space for every female to be expressive and have a great time doing it.  We believe Austin is in desperate need of a place for female artists of all kinds:  musicians, burlesque dancers, fashion designers, belly dancers, fire dancers, roller derby, athletes,
Lipstick24 Grand Opening
December 4, 2010
DJ’s, artists, poets, film directors and more.  We also strongly believe in giving back to the community by hosting fundraisers and donating our space for special events.  We built Lipstick24 to offer something for everyone, whatever your mood.  Check out our calendar for events – we hope you’ll meet new friends, enjoy your time with old friends, see exciting shows and listen to great music.

Lipstick24 (December 2012)
The outside deck with picnic tables, an outdoor stage, trees adorned with tiny white lights; the swanky Lounge with couches and rotating art featuring local female and LGBTQIA artists; the game room to play some pool; and the dance club with a separate bar, amazing light show and kick ass speaker system.

Lipstick24 isn’t trying to be a sparkly image driven bar.  It’s a hangout.  A place with character where girls can be girls, boys can be boys, you can be you.  It’s a bar for all of us..  Come and Enjoy!

And then there's this, the "elevator speech" if you will:

Welcome to Lipstick24
Where Every Night is Ladies Night!

Austins premier ladies club offering a swanky lounge, a tree covered deck with a combination of Live music and DJ's for your dancing pleasure.

As for the review sites, they all affirm that this was a lesbian place--which is not necessarily always the case.
Lipstick24 (December 2012)

From Zagat:

"One of Austin's only lesbian bars", this "comfortable" Downtown hangout features an "all-girl staff" and plays "really loud" dance music; a back patio, pool tables and a stage hosting local LGBT acts supply a variety of distractions.

From Foursquare:

Where it's Ladies Night Every Night! Great patio, lounge, AND Nightclub! Check out the action and what's up on\Lipstick24
Lipstick24 (December 2012)

From GayCities:

Gay Friendly Ladies BarLipstick24 isnt trying to be a sparkly image driven bar. Its a hangout. A place with character where we girls can meet for some drinks or seek mayhem in the next room if we so desire.

From CultureMap Austin:

Lipstick24 (December 2012)

Austin's downtown lesbian bar with a good dancefloor and friendly staff
From sheseek:
Lipstick 24 is Austin’s mainstay for gay and lesbian women from Thursday to Sunday, often sponsoring fundraisers for community events, showcasing local designers and performers, and even playing host for Real L Word appearances for celesbians such as Whitney Mixter. With all of the glam and none of the attitude, Lipstick 24 touts itself as “A place with character…where you can be you.”
As for what the customers say, it runs the gamut. You have the fans, the haters, the embittered men and their wives/girlfriends who are all pissed because they aren't treated really special at a lesbian bar.
Lipstick24 (December 2012)
 Let's sample a few responses:

The Fans:

Kelly S. at yelp, May 2011:

...I wasn't sure what to expect, having never really been to a lady gay bar. I was pleasantly surprised, actually.

Really nice bartender, super cool funky hair styles everywhere, a pretty big space, pool table, mrs. pacman, nice outdoor patio. Drinks weren't overly expensive and the folks we talked to were all quite friendly. It's nice and new inside with some art on the walls and a white ikea style leather seating area.

Aga N. at yelp, October 2010:

...The bartenders were so nice and quick, and the clientele was super sweet and welcoming.

Tara D. at yelp, June 2011:

Great atmosphere and friendly staff.  I always have a good time here.  Jeanna and Kristen are two of the best bartenders ever!  The management is awesome and extremely supportive of the LGBT community (as a gay bar should be, of course)...and they are always open to suggestions on how to improve the bar.

Ramona at gogobot, November 2013:

Lipstick24 is Austin's preeminent lesbian bar, but the downtown club has become a gathering place for everyone in the local LGBT community. Hang out in the casual outdoor patio, complete with an outdoor stage with weekly live music and entertainment. Lipstick also features a range of female-oriented artists, from roller derby performers and belly dancers to fashion designers and poets.

The Haters:

Gail A. at yelp, January 2013:

We arrived around 11pm on a Friday evening. The place was empty save the bartender, a handful of very unattractive women and a cold, abandoned stripper pole. Maybe I was just there on an off night, but I've experienced much better girl scenes in smaller cities/towns. We stayed for five minutes before abandoning the joint for a much livelier straight bar.

The Whiny Dudes and Straight Girls:

Note that these comments tend to be long-winded in addition to being entitled and generally ignorant of and/or indifferent to the history of male ownership/domination/colonization of lesbian bars. All of these are pruned quite a bit, I assure you:
Samantha P. at yelp, January 2011: friend wanted to take me (and the two guys I was with) to Lipstick 24. Cool! I am an Ally, and I love dance bars and supporting local LGBTQ businesses, so I was all about it.

My friend Patrick waited at the bar for almost 20 minutes. The bartender served EVERYONE but him over and over. I walked up and gestured to the bartender, and she immediately walked up. I was really outraged and angered by it. Why ignore the guy who wants to close his tab, who has bought drinks, and who has enjoyed your bar and wants to come back?

Hael F. at yelp, September 2011:

DO NOT ENTER if you have male genitalia.

I was enticed to visit Lipstick24 when friends invited me there to see Lesbian pudding wrestling. While I'm sure it wasn't vegan pudding and I prefer the gents... I am always down for a couple of ladies throwing down in some Bill Cosby loving pudding. After walking through the door, we stopped at bar to grab drink before partaking in the action.

There were three of us (all gay men) at the bar attempting to order a beer. We waited for nearly 20 minutes for a bartender to even acknowledge us. This staff was completely inept, I've never seen such incompetence with when most of the ladies here were only ordering beers.

After finally, receiving our beers we headed to back patio for some girl-on-girl pudding action but we were too late. While we waited at the front bar, the pudding wrestling had ended. In order to console ourselves we decided to grab a couple more drinks from the outside bar. While this bar was not well stocked, we were greeted by a very gregarious and adorable bartender that was in stark comparison to our earlier experience.

This place was packed but I guess that's to be expected since it's the only lesbian bar in town. Overall, I don't think I'd go back. I understand the infighting between the gays and lesbians but I don't like to be treated like a second class citizen.

Matt H. at yelp, December 2010:

...Talking with my female friends, their guess is that the owner is a manhater.  I don't know if that's the case, and I'm personally not going to assume it is in hopes that it was just sheer incidence that my experience was terrible.  If that is the case though, it seems rather narrow-sighted to skip over someone who considers himself an ally and wholeheartedly supports your lifestyle.

Alethea B. at yelp, October 2011:

I did not realize that it was a common experience for men to be glared at in a Lesbian bar.  Most men who go are going with female friends or are gay themselves.  Not every man who goes to a lesbian bar is trying to be a pervert who will save the gay woman from a life of homosexuality by showing her what a "real man feels like"  (brrrrr).  Anyway, I digress; the reason for that statement is that it is wrong for my husband and I to go to Lipstick 24 and as soon as I go to the bathroom, he gets glared at by so many of the lesbians that it looked like he just offered to impregnate the whole bar in the back seat of his Dodge.

Many sites (e.g. Zagat, yelp, GayCities, Austin360, sacbee) report that Lipstick24 is now closed, but as usual, there is no date. The last scheduled performer I see at songkick is March 2013 though.

But in April 2013, it was announced in The Republiq that Austin was losing its "only lesbian bar." That being Lipstick24.

The space is now the Empire Control Room & Garage--a concert venue. Or possibly Club 606. Not entirely sure which came first.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Planet

"The Planet" (from The L Word)
The Planet

Location: Presumably somewhere in West Hollywood, but the actual façade used in the filming was located in Vancouver, Canada.

Opened: January 18, 2004

Closed: March 11, 2009

From time to time, just for the heck of it, we post on a fictional womyn's space.

The Planet is one of those places, having served as the hangout for the various characters of The L Word, the infamous " television drama series portraying the lives of a group of lesbian, bisexual, straight and transgender people and their friends, connections, family and lovers in the trendy Greater Los Angeles, California city of West Hollywood"--as Wikipedia (rather awkwardly) describes it.

Initially I wanted to somehow summarize the role that The Planet played in the characters' lives, but I quickly discovered that the task was overwhelming. Especially for someone who had only viewed a couple of episodes, and never did care for the series much. So those of you who are fans, you can fill in the details from your memories.

According to Grace Chu, the Planet was actually inspired by a real-life place in Los Angeles:

The Abbey
The Abbey, originally established as a gay coffee shop in the early 1990s, is currently a gay bar and restaurant that transforms into a club on the weekends. Local L.A. lore has it that it was the inspiration behind The Planet on The L Word.

However, it has also been asserted that the Urth Caffe is the real-life inspiration.
Urth Caffe

"The Planet" in Second Life
In 2007, The Planet became what was probably one of the first lesbian places to assume a virtual existence in Second Life. It would be interesting to know if any other womyn's spaces have that honor.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Door 19

Door 19 (June 2012)
Door 19

Location: 1901 Leavenworth Street, Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Opened: January 14, 2012

Closed: ?

Door 19 is one of the few cases I know of where a lesbian bar replaced a lesbian bar at the same location. This was formerly the address for Connections, which we have reported on before.

Here's the birth announcement for Door 19 on Facebook:

January 14th is the *Grand Opening* of the new lesbian bar, Door 19 (formerly Connections Bar), in Omaha! No cover!

Door 19 comes to you completely remodeled with new owners and lots of fun surprises!

Performances by: Vincent von Dyke, Anson Reign, Busta Highman, Tygra Slarii, Jacobi Strappin', Miss Fitz, Nena Sav...
age, Brooke Devine, Ryder Shotgun, Phil Latio, J Breezy St James & more!!

Stashes and Lashes is a new drag entertainment group that will bring versatile, exciting and quality entertainment from the best of the best in Nebraska. Join us as Stashes and Lashes rocks out during the GRAND OPENING of Door 19!

Andrew Collins mentions it in his round-up for Omaha's Heartland Gay Pride:

The women's bar Door 19 (1901 Leavenworth St., 402-452-0895) is a top spot with Omaha's lesbian community.

And here's how GayCities described Door 19:

A place for women to hang out
Happy Hour 4pm - 8pm $1 off wells and $1.50 Domestic Draws Wednesdays - $1.75 Busch Light cans Thursdays - $1 draws * Fridays - $5 unlimited tap* 6pm to 10pm Saturdays - $3 Bombs

GayCities also reports that it is now closed, though no date is given.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Women-only self-defense classes

Glendale's Commission on the Status of Women holds
self-defense classes in April on city property
for women and girls in honor of
Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Women-only self-defense classes

Location: Glendale, California, USA

Closed: April 2014?

So the Men's "rights" (supremacy) groups are even threatened by a privately funded self-defense class for women. Never mind that there are all kinds of sports and fighting options that are just for men. Can't let the ladies learn to fight back on their own, can we?

If you can manage to read the gag-inducing comments, it's really about the menfolk simultaneously denying and promoting sexual violence against women. But that's no surprise. Standard issue propaganda for the Men's Rights dudes.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Men's group objects to women's self-defense classes in Glendale

March 28, 2014, 4:17 p.m.

A men's group is objecting to Glendale offering free self-defense classes to women only, saying the city is violating federal and state civil rights laws that protect against sexual discrimination.

The National Coalition for Men outlined its opposition in a letter sent this month to city officials, the Glendale News-Press reported.

For years, Glendale's Commission on the Status of Women has held self-defense classes in April on city property for women and girls in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

This is the first time the National Coalition for Men, which was established in 1977, has sent a letter asking the city to open the classes to men and boys.

Harry Crouch, president of the San Diego-based nonprofit that aims to end gender-based stereotypes, said his organization was only recently made aware of the classes.

According to the letter, the classes, which are set to take place in the Glendale Police Department's community room twice next month, "violate a host of federal and California anti-discrimination laws."

"Such female-exclusive or male-exclusive actions by government and private actors violate the equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution and California Constitution," the letter states.

"It always astounds me that some of our governmental agencies who are charged with protecting us from violations of law simply acquiesce to things like this," Crouch said, adding anyone can be a victim of sexual assault.

In the United States, about 10% of all sexual assault victims are male, according to statistics provided by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Sexual assault includes sexual touching, forced penetration and other crimes. Since receiving the letter, city officials have done preliminary research into the matter and have found that there may be federal law that permits the self-defense classes for women, but more research into state law is planned.

After the research is complete, officials intend to send a response to the National Coalition for Men as well as review the class structure, if necessary.

The classes are paid for by fundraising by the Commission on the Status of Women, said Senior Assistant City Atty. Lucy Varpetian.