Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Joani Presents

Joani Presents
Joani Presents

Location: 6413 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, California, USA

Opened: 1961

Closed: 1973

From Remembering LA's Earliest Lesbian Bars:

Joani Presents – Located in North Hollywood at 6413 Lankershim Boulevard, this bar was owned by Joan Hannan, who was most famous for playing the drummer in the all-girl band in the 1959 Marilyn Monroe film “Some Like it Hot.” Attracting many classes of women, the bar was popular throughout the 1960s and 1970s, only closing when Hannan and her partner moved to Humboldt County.

You can find out more about Georgia (Joan) Hannan here. Seems that back in 1958, Joan was playing with a band in Palm Springs. It was probably an "all-girl band" as Joan formed many of these over the years. Somebody in Hollywood must have seen her perform, as she was soon contacted about playing a drummer in a movie. And the rest is history.  

In a 2011 interview, Joan described some of her experiences on the set:

“Monroe was standing beside her drum set as a scene was set up, Hannan said, and remarked in her famously breathy voice: ‘I just love the drums. I wish you’d teach me to play.’

Hannan was speechless. In that moment, she was as starstruck as Monroe seemed nervous.

Joan Hannan
‘She was a sweet, sweet person,’ Hannan said about the star. ‘She was not dumb at all. Always late? Yes.’

Hannan counts the film among her career highlights. But it was not without challenges.

Getting the part required acting in a way that made her uncomfortable. She knew from prior experience performing with bands on USO tours that an “extremely feminine” drummer was wanted.

‘I was forced to be a heterosexual woman,’ said Hannan, who is a lesbian. ‘I had to constantly flirt.’

You can see a little bit of Joan in this clip, though she's mostly in the back and in shadow. 
Joan Hannan in her
later years

Joan died last year at the age of 83. According to her obituary, she "passed away peacefully at home on April 13, 2012 in the arms of her partner. "

Jeanne Cordova has this memory of Joani Presents:

On the outskirts of feminism in ’72, I stopped at a traffic signal next to a dyke bar in North Hollywood. The car in back of me repeatedly bumped my fender. Furious, I jumped out of my car, marched back, and leaned my flattop into the driver’s window demanding, “You blind, drunk, or just stupid, Mister? How about staying off my fender?”
His beer-glazed eyes registered me. “Fuck you, bull dyke!” He jabbed a fist in my face.
“Don’t you just wish…” I laughed.
Just then the light turned green and I rushed back to my car. Sweeping around the corner and into the parking lot of Joanie Presents, I parked. As I walked toward the bar, I gulped. Archie Bunker had followed me. He was coming at me with a crowbar.
The goddess was with me that night. The man thundered past me and smashed his crowbar into my car’s rear window.
The Boy Mechanic captured this photo of the former Joani Presents.

The former Joani Presents
The Boy Mechanic is an excellent documentary source on lesbian bars over the years. If you've never checked out the project, please do. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Michigan Female College

Michigan Female College 
Michigan Female College

Location: Lansing, Michigan 


Closed: By 1880 at latest, when the property was turned into Michigan School for the Blind. Probably shortly after founder Abigail Roger's death in 1869.

Michigan Female College was founded by Abigail Rogers (1818-1860), a first-wave feminist. Unfortunatly, the College did not survive much beond the founder's lifetime--apparently because the school had no vision for sustaining itself beyond the time when women were finally admitted into the state universities. As Frank M. Turner states: "Her great work, the work on which she spent her whole life was the admission of women in to the University of Michigan and the Michigan Agricultural College on an equal basis with men." It appears, then, that the Michigan Female College was not much more than a means to that end. 

From the Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame

Abigail Rogers was one of Michigan’s most distinguished and admired women of the 19th century. Her great work to which she dedicated her whole life was the admission of women into the state’s universities.

Educated and experienced in the administration of college-level education, Abigail and her sister Delia Rogers determined to open a school of the highest grade for young women in Lansing, “to keep before the public mind as constantly as they could, the duty of the State to provide for the education of its daughters as it had already provided for the education of its sons.”

Abigail Rogers
The Michigan Female College was founded in 1855, holding daily sessions in the capitol for two years until a permanent building could be obtained. By 1867, Abigail Rogers had helped to educate more than a thousand women from Michigan and nine other states, in both classical and scientific matters.

Thorough attention was given to instruction in all areas including mathematics, philosophy, and political economy, and the inability to pay was never an impediment. According to historian Eliza Smith, “No young woman anxious for improvement, but lacking means to meet the expense of tuition, ever stated her case in vain to [Rogers,] this true earnest friend of all who wished to help themselves.”

Upon her death in 1869, the Lansing Republican newspaper called Rogers “the acknowledged and leading champion of the higher education of women in Michigan.” Later that year, Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) admitted its first female student. The University of Michigan followed suit in 1870. 

Here's a description of the college course from 1858. Abigail and her sister obviously believed in academic rigor: 

Young Ladies applying for admission to the Classical Course, will be required to pass an examination in the following preparatory studies: Arithmetic (Stoddard's); Algebra, (through the sixth chapter of Davies' Bourdon); English Grammar, (Welch's Analysis); Geography; Physiology; History of the United States; Andrews & Stoddard's Latin Grammar; Arnold's First Latin Book, (Harkness edition); Arnold's Latin Prose Composition, (through forty exercises); Cornelius Nepos or Q. Curtius; Caesar, and Cicero's Select Orations; Kuhner's Elementary Greek Grammar; Xenophon's Anabasis, (Boise edition) to the Fourth Book; and Arnold's Greek Prose Composition.

In the Scientific Course, candidates for admission will be examined in all the studies preparatory to the Classical Department, except the Latin and Greek. Fifty Exercises in Fasquelle's French Method, the regular Verbs; and fifty Exercises in Woodbury's German Method will also be required.

The study of the Holy Scriptures will form a regular part of the whole Course, both Preparatory and Collegiate. The Text-Books named, are those which are used in the Institution, but an equivalent amount of knowledge is all that will be required of candidates for admission.

The entire expense of Board, including Fuel, Lights, &c., for the College year of forty weeks is.....$130.00

Tuition in the Preparatory Department, for English Branches, per term.....$10.00
Tuition in the Preparatory Department, for each of the Languages, per term.....$4.00
Tuition in the College Department, per term.....$18.00
"     "     Drawing, per term.....$4.00
"     "     Painting in Oil Colors, per term.....$16.00
"     on Piano or Guitar, per term.....$20.00
Use of Instrument, per term.....$5.00

The only extra charge will be twenty cents per dozen for washing.

Young Ladies are expected to furnish their own towels, table-napkins, napkin-rings and forks, and will be required to provide themselves with umbrellas and overshoes.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Slack's Restaurant and Bar

Slacks interior
Slack's Restaurant & Bar

Location: 562 Church Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Opened: 2005

Closed: June 2013

Yet another victim in the great Lesbian Bar Die-off. From the Daily Xtra, June 27 2013: 
Slack's closes just before Toronto Pride
'Only true women's bar' on Church Street first opened as Slack Alice in 1997

It’s a sad month for Toronto lesbians. After eight years of operating as the “only true women’s bar” on the Church Street strip, Slack’s Restaurant and Bar has closed its doors.

Co-owner Karen Halliday confirmed the closure on her Facebook page earlier in June, while friends of the owners and regular performers at Slack’s verified the news this week.
Slacks exterior

The venue first opened in 1997 under the name Slack Alice. Operated by Heather Mackenzie (who now runs The Flying Beaver Pubaret on Parliament Street) and a male friend, Stephen Brailsford, the bar was never intended to be a lesbian hangout. But as more women flocked to the space, Slack Alice was quickly coined a “women’s place” for female Village-goers, many of whom recall dancing atop the bar during wild nights early on in Slack Alice’s inception.
In 2005, the venue was rebranded as Slack’s by Halliday and partner Michele Hammerton, and it became the Village’s trademark lesbian bar.
From 2006 review of Slack's
Many remember Slack’s for its cozy, laid-back atmosphere, free comedy shows and dirty bingo nights. It was also home to some of the Village’s best lesbian music nights, with female DJs spinning almost every weekend.
Mackenzie says news of the closure is “saddening,” but she thinks that times are changing and the need for an exclusive women’s bar is slowly declining. “It seems the trend now is that there are more parties all over the city rather than one set bar,” she says. “Different parties tend to cater to all different types of women.”
It’s an especially great loss during Pride season, says Pride Toronto executive director Kevin Beaulieu. “We benefit from a strong local community of queer businesses, and certainly, we hope that we can maintain that [despite Slack’s closure],” he says.
Halliday has not responded to Xtra’s requests for comment.