Show Me Love: Female Impersonation and Drag in Kansas City
Drag became a gay bar staple in the 1960s as a shared audience expression of gay sensibility. While often seen as synonymous with female impersonation, drag is distinct – entailing mostly gay audiences in the context of private parties and bars, as opposed to female impersonation acts for predominantly straight audiences.
In a discussion drawing from his newly published book The Bars Are Ours: Histories and Cultures of Gay Bars in America, 1960 and After, author and scholar Lucas Hilderbrand spotlights two gay establishments on Kansas City’s Troost Avenue in the 1960s: the Jewel Box Lounge and the Colony Bar. He examines how these venues made the differences between drag shows and female impersonation apparent at a time when gay bars were emerging as visible and politicized spaces.
Hilderbrand is a professor and chair of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Although based in Los Angeles, his family hails from Missouri, and Kansas City is a second home town to him.
His presentation is co-presented by the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (GLAMA), located within the LaBudde Special Collections at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
His presentation is livestreamed at youtube.com/kclibrary (for which no RSVP is necessary).