Chamblee54

Blackface Drag At Club Sheba

Posted in Georgia History, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on January 31, 2019

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Reading about Shirley Q. Liquor brought back memories of a night long ago. A young man, who I will call Carroll, grew up across the street. In his spare time, he did drag shows. What I was expecting was Carol Burnett and Lily Tomlin, using his own voice. One Sunday night, free admission and a buffet was all I needed to venture downtown and see the show.

The venue was an unpretentious bar called Club Sheba. The clientele was mostly lesbians, many of whom were African Americans.

Club Sheba was located on Forrest Avenue. The street was named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General. Forrest Avenue later became Ralph McGill Boulevard, named after the former editor of the Atlanta Constitution.

As show time approached, I saw a table that had empty seats. I pulled back a seat, and a beefy lady informed me that she did not want a man to sit at that table.

The first act was what I expected. The reputation of Carol Burnett did not suffer, and Lily Tomlin was still in the closet. After the first act, I shot a game of pool with my friend, and went to the buffet for a second plate. A lady stopped me. ”You’re not supposed to get full”

I went back to the pool table. After a while there was a crowd standing around, and it was evident that a second act was going to start soon. I saw a black lady in the crowd making faces at me, took a second look, and realized that it was Carroll.

He did not use his voice this time, but lip synced to Grace Jones and Diana Ross. He wore blackface, and an afro wig. The crowd at the Club Sheba enjoyed this part of the show. Many of the Black Lesbians went to the stage and stuffed dollar bills in his faux bosom.

The pictures today are from The Library of Congress. These ladies were participating in “Inter city beauties, Atlantic City Pageant, 1925.” This feature is a repost.

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One Response

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  1. romanhans said, on February 3, 2019 at 7:05 am

    Your experiences at lesbian bars remind me of mine. I went to one with a curious female friend and played pool while she mingled. After I won three games, a woman walked up to me and said, “If you win one more game, we’re going to kill you.”

    I’m still not sure if she was serious but I did lose the next game.


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