Friday, March 23, 2007


Gay people made a (re) entry into popular entertainment in the 1970's, following years of being considered too controversial to include in mainstream media (see the excellent documentary The Celluloid Closet for an in-depth look at this). Naturally the campy, fun angle to gay life was mostly featured, and several personalities played this up. With the possible exception of Paul Lynde, who was more memorable or more beloved than Wayland Flowers & Madame?

Here's a clip I found - in a movie starring Redd Foxx and Pearl Bailey of all people! - that had a clip of a performance by Madame. Shit it's funny, check it out.

(You have to watch the video directly on YouTube, so just click the picture above and it will take you there.)

As an aside, Wayland Flowers was a resident of the blossoming gay community in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, when he developed the character of Madame. The story goes that she was based on a woman who worked at the popular restaurant Trio at 17th & Q Streets NW. When I lived in DC in the early 90's, she was the cashier there, and she looked EXACTLY like Madame, it was hilarious! She used to march in the gay pride parade and everything. The story may be true, if this woman worked at Trio for 25 years. From the looks of her, it was definitely possible.

Of course seeing this little scene of a gay cabaret makes me think ... we don't even have anything like this in the Detroit area anymore. Hell, even a gay piano bar? I don't think we do. I'm gonna have to look in this. I suppose there's always Saugatuck in the summer.

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