CLUB 82. Two vintage publicity postcards.
CLUB 82. Two vintage publicity postcards.
CLUB 82. Two vintage publicity postcards.
CLUB 82. Two vintage publicity postcards.

19.

CLUB 82. Two vintage publicity postcards.

NY: Eagle Post Card View Co., nd. 9.2x13.6cm. + 8.8x14cm. The first postcard prints a b/w photograph showing female impersonators posing at Club 82 in New York City, c. January 1956; the second shows a large group of men, some in drag, others wearing theatrical costume, posing at the club during the same period.

82 East 4th Street, previously the location for the Rainbow Inn, opened as Club 82 in 1953 when impresario Stephen Franse moved into the space and began operating what would become the biggest drag show in America. 35 female impersonators performed a revue three times a night, at 10.30, 12.30 and 2.30, as detailed on the back of the postcards. Most of the performers were gay, and lesbians in mens' clothing bounced and waited tables, though the club's customers, among them Frank Sinatra, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor and Judy Garland, were predominantly though not exclusively heterosexual. Franse was murdered in June 1953 by his business partner, mafia boss Vito Genovese, who blamed him for disclosing his drug smuggling operation to the FBI.

Club 82's popularity faded in the 1960s as the Village homosexual community tired of entertaining straight customers and began fighting for their rights, culminating with the Stonewall riots in June 1969. Two lesbians, Tommy and Butchie, took over in the early '70s, and for a while the club enjoyed a new lease of life as a venue for glam rock, hosting The New York Dolls, among others. Club 82 closed in 1978, re-opened as an illegal after-hours club in the '80s, and eventually turned into The Bijou, an unmarked gay porn theatre, featuring private booths used as cruising spots.

Both postcards Near Fine.

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