Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOK REVIEW Dugan's Bistro and the Legend of the Bearded Lady
by Lauren Emily Whalen
2019-03-15

This article shared 1938 times since Fri Mar 15, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


By Owen Keehnen

$17; Out Tales, Publishing; 148 pages

Bob Theiss contained multitudes—most under a completely different name.

Known as the Bearded Lady ( or BL ) to gay Chicagoans of the 1970s and early '80s, he was part drag queen, part hedonist and all nightlife superstar. Wearing layers of thrifted stockings and oft-handmade headdresses, the BL slayed the small stage of iconic River North disco Dugan's Bistro. Author and historian Owen Keehnen chronicles the BL's rise to fame in his latest book, Dugan's Bistro and the Legend of the Bearded Lady. Short but poignant, Dugan's Bistro is an impeccably researched wild ride into an era of rainbow days and cocaine-fueled nights.

Theiss wasn't always strutting around clubs in vintage threads. Born during a solar eclipse in 1947, the man who would become a legend graduated from a Niagara Falls boarding school and finished two years of college before joining the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Tired of hiding his true self, Theiss eventually found himself in Chicago and cultivated a personality to end all others. He hoarded clothes and jewelry in his tiny apartment on Briar Place, grew his hair long and when Dugan's Bistro opened downtown, found his artistic and spiritual home.

To gay people who felt free for the first time in their lives, the Bearded Lady was a savior, as was Dugan's. Thanks to visionary Eddie Dugan, the French restaurant turned nightclub was about more than the dancing and drugs that made the '70's so notorious. Dugan loved seasonal decorations, lines out the door and on the bar and the smell of sex in the air. The Bearded Lady helped cement the Bistro's reputation as Chicago's own Studio 54. But behind the headdresses and makeup was Bob, who eventually followed love to Tokyo, earned his college degree and taught English as a second language. No matter his environment, however, the BL lived to be seen.

Keehnen culled the book's research from the internet, digital and paper archives, newspaper coverage of the BL ( from alt-weeklies to the Chicago Tribune ) and even police reports ( because Dugan's Bistro was often raided for drugs and "public indecency," the latter of which could mean whatever the cops wanted it to mean ). His passion for the titular individual is fully on display in every word.

Many young queer Chicagoans may not know that just a few decades ago, the most happening gay spaces were downtown, and that the River North are was once considered dangerous and that a mythical figure with prominent facial hair and garish jewelry ruled the scene. Dugan's Bistro and the Legend of the Bearded Lady is an enlightening peek into the pre-AIDS past, when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt—yet.

[Note: Keehnen is an occasional contributor to Windy City Times.]


This article shared 1938 times since Fri Mar 15, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Affinity Burning Bowl hosts first-ever virtual event amid pandemic
2021-01-14
Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Affinity Community Services (Affinity) held its annual Burning Bowl Jan. 9 on Zoom and Facebook Live. This year's theme was "Community Undivided." Among other items, the Barbara "Robbie" Smith Award of ...


Gay News

'Mombian Database' released
2021-01-13
Mombian columnist Dana Rudolph has released the Mombian Database of LGBTQ Family Books, Media, and More, with more than 500 books, music albums, movies, games and toys for and about LGBTQ families. The site offers multiple ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Workout gear, $2 subs, LGBTQ book
2021-01-11
1. Lived Experience: Reflections on LGBTQ Life: "Lived Experience," in this case, refers to 60 LGBTQ people in this country who are older than 50—those who especially have so much to offer. This is a generation ...


Gay News

BOOKS: The best of 2020
2020-12-23
You've got a little extra time this month, and you don't want to waste it. You want to read something good, the possibilities are endless, and the best place to begin is with these Best Books ...


Gay News

Lighthouse Foundation to host Black Queer Pride: Winter Edition
2020-12-22
--From a press release - Lighthouse Foundation will host Chicago's Virtual Black Queer Pride: Winter Edition with three days of programming by eleven local Black Queer artists. The virtual event will take begin on Facebook live, Friday, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Drag Race,' year-end honors, 'Guardians,' Taylor Swift
2020-12-21
VH1 unveiled a game-changing twist from the upcoming season of the Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race, premiering Friday, Jan. 1, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, a press release noted. For the first time in Drag Race "herstory," queens ...


Gay News

Newest competitors on 'RuPaul's Drag Race' revealed
2020-12-09
VH1 revealed the cast for the 13th season of RuPaul's Drag Race, premiering Friday, Jan. 1, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. After winning six Emmy Awards this year and becoming the most awarded reality competition show in ...


Gay News

American Writers Museum launches virtual American Voices exhibit
2020-12-07
--From a press release - (CHICAGO - December 7, 2020) - The American Writers Museum (AWM) today announced the launch of a new website NationofWriters.org, an online resource featuring a virtual American Voices exhibit, educational ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Joanne E. Trapani
2020-11-29
According to Facebook posts, Joanne E. Trapani, one-time village president of Oak Park, has passed away. Read about her life and work in the community at the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame: http://chicagolgbthalloffame.org/trapani-joanne/ . and at ...


Gay News

BOOKS/ART Local man releases sketches by famous artist uncle
2020-11-19
Cuban American painter Gustavo Ojeda (1958—89) is best known for lush and meditative urban nightscapes that brought him recognition in the 1980s downtown New York art scene. He exhibited works alongside artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Restaurants, OUT100, children's book, face mask
2020-11-19
—Perry's Steakhouse & Grille (PerrysSteakhouse.com): This suburban spot (with two restaurants in Oak Brook and Schaumburg) is well-known for its delicious cuts of meat, sumptuous sides and hand-crafted cocktails. It's ...


Gay News

Artist Riva Lehrer talks new memoir, career, state of the world
2020-11-18
In queer artist, writer and curator Riva Lehrer's recently released memoir Golem Girl, she takes readers on a journey through her life via the lens of her being born with spina bifida and the way that ...


Gay News

MUSICALS 1997 version of Anyone Can Whistle out Dec. 4
2020-11-17
On Sunday, Dec. 4, Jay Records will release a 1997 recording of the musical Anyone Can Whistle, which originally had music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim as well as a book by Arthur Laurents. The production ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wentworth Miller, Whitney, lesbian author, Mark Wahlberg
2020-11-16
Out actor Wentworth Miller said he doesn't want to be involved in a new season of the TV show Prison Break if it happens, according to Deadline. On Instagram, he thanked fans for his support and ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ RuPaul, LGBTQ athletes, film winners, Charles Busch
2020-11-02
RuPaul has a lot of irons in the fire, according to out.com. Not only is she on the cover of Cosmopolitan UK's January 2021 issue, but the drag icon has also posted her new five-track Hey Sis, It's Christmas EP. Also, ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.