Events This Weekend: Belgian Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; Ft. Lauderdale Pride, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; AIDS Walk, Houston, TX; Lake Tahoe Winterfest, Lake Tahoe, NV; SWING Gay Ski Week, Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Miami Bar Posts House Rules: 1955. Gallows humor, or at the least, sardonic humor, has long been a valuable coping mechanism whenever things haven’t been going well. And things hadn’t been going well for Miami’s gay community, which had experienced wave after wave of police raids, arbitrary arrests, and general persecution over the previous year (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12, Aug 13 (twice that day), Aug 14, Aug 26, Aug 31, Sep 1, Sep 2, Sep 7, Sep 15, Sep 19, Oct 6, Oct 20, Nov 12 and Dec 16). According to ONE Magazine, an un-named Miami-area bar tried to make light of the situation by posting the following set of rules for its patrons to follow:
Rules and Regulations Covering the Behavior of Our Customers
First of all-remember that the customer is never right.
Before drinking each beer customer is to repeat six times “Customer is never right.”
When customer wishes to go to the restroom–please raise hand and barmaid will direct you to proper door.
Mother and daughter customers are not allowed to hold hands, kiss or pat each other on back. On week-ends they are not allowed to even talk to each other.
No after-shave lotion or talcum powder allowed on men customers.
Women must wear make-up-false eyelashes and beauty marks will be provided at the bar for those women customers who have just come from the beach and don’t have their make-up kits with them.
Men may wear only stiff shirts and tails.
Any male customer caught buying a beer for another male customer will have to buy a beer for the barmaid too so that the management will know that the man customer is of high moral character and not one of those characters.
Female customers may not talk at all–they are required to walk around the bar at least once every five minutes, dropping handkerchiefs and swooning at the far turn.
Male customers ‘may NOT wave at friends or relatives passing by in the street because we’ll have none of those gestures in this place, my dear.
Lady customers may smoke only if male customer lights cigarette for them.
Lady customers may smoke only cigarettes with ivory tips, jewelled pipes or Between the Acts cigars.
Male customers must have hair on the chest–if you have none–please bring along another chest with the required hair on it. (We will gladly refrigerate it for you while you’re here).
Male customers are required to spit periodically. Since we have no spittoons please use the guy next to you.
Please do not be offended if we do not serve you. Here are but a few of the people we could not serve if they were able to patronize us : Socrates, Wilde, Proust, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Queen Christina, Amy Lowell, Lord Tennyson, etc., etc. and far on into the night.
The bar also posted a detailed “Questionnaire to be filled in by prospective customer before selling 15¢ beer”, which asked for name, address, phone number, boss’s phone number, parents’ names and three references. Also, and presumably to make the police’s job of notifying everyone possible if you were arrested, it asked for “names and addresses of five business or personal friends of your parents and their wives or husbands.”
[Source: J.K. "Letter from Miami." ONE Magazine 3, no. 3 (March 1955): 44.]
Will Geer: 1902. He was Grampa Walton on screen, and a social activist off. He had been a member of the Communist Party in 1934, where he met Harry Hay (see Apr 7) who would go on to co-found the Mattachine Foundation (which later became the Mattachine Society) in 1950. Geer and Hay briefly became lovers while working on union organizing in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But they soon parted ways when Geer married his wife, actress and fellow political activist Herta Ware. Geer went on to work with folk singers Burle Ives and Woodie Guthrie in advocating for migrant farm workers and organized labor. He also found time to do some acting, mostly on the stage, often Shakespeare. Between 1948 and 1951, he was also in more than a dozen movies, but he was soon blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
With the blacklist in force, Geer fell back on his training as a botanist (he had a master’s degree from the University of Chicago) and founded the Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon near Santa Monica, California, with his wife. They would divorce in 1954, but they remained very close friends thereafter. Together, they turned Theatricum Botanicum into an artists colony, with an outdoor summer theater and Woody Guthrie living in a small shack.
By the late 1950s, Geer was back on Broadway, and in 1964 he was nominated for a Tony for his role in the musical 110 in the Shade. His career in film resumed in 1963 with a minor part in Advise and Consent, and in 1967 he played the prosecutor in the film adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. When he died after completing the sixth season of The Waltons in 1978, his remains were cremated and his ashes burried at his beloved Theatricum Botanicum, which continues to host performances and youth acting workshops.
Dear Mother: I have written this to tell you my worrying secret. Now don’t cry when you read it because it is neither yours nor my fault. I suppose I will have to tell it now without any nonsense. To begin with I was not meant to be an athlet [sic]. I was meant to be a composer, and will be I’m sure. I’ll ask you one more thing .—Don’t ask me to try to forget this unpleasant thing and go play football.—Please—Sometimes I’ve been worrying about this so much that it makes me mad (not very).
He wrote his first musical at seven, tried his first opera at 10, became an organist at 12, and began studying piano, voice and composition at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia at 14. That’s where he met his lover, partner and musical collaborator Gian Carlo “Johnny” Menotti, and they would remain together for the next forty years. By Barber’s twenties, his compositions were commissioned or debuted by Vladimir Horowitz, Leontyne Price, Arturo Toscanini, among others. He won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his 1957 opera Vanessa, and for his 1962 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. But his 1966 opera Antony and Cleopatra was a dud, and he spent his remaining years in isolation and depression, while Menotti, a successful composer in his own right, indulged in dalliances with a string of much younger men. Barber died in 1981, Menotti in 2007, and it is Barber’s work that is better remembered.
By the way, one of our BTB readers is an opera fanatic, and he kicked off an awesome discussion on this post last year.
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?