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Gay History: Chicago Whispers
Front Page and Hugo's
by Sukie de la Croix
2003-01-22

This article shared 2514 times since Wed Jan 22, 2003
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I recently had a message left on my voicemail from a guy who asked if I had any information about two bars: The Front Page and Hugo's. All I know about Hugo's is that it was located somewhere near Wells and Armitage and it was there in 1963. If the anonymous caller would like to do an interview with me, please call me back at (773) 871 7610 EXT 29.

The Front Page has cropped up many times in my interviews, and this week I'd like to retell some of the stories I've been told, so that you can get a picture of what the bar was like. It was a syndicate bar located at 530 N. Rush St. and was owned/operated by Nathan 'Nate' Zuckerman, John Coleman was the manager, and the waitress was Frances Wilson.

Anonymous 71-year-old lesbian …

'The first bar that women really felt welcome in was the Front Page and that was a mixed bar, both men and women. There was an outrageous waitress called Frances, totally straight I'm sure, but she was outspoken and used all kinds of cuss words, bold and brassy. We all liked her …

' … I believe the Front Page was sold and they changed it into a straight bar.

Thomas N …

'After I got out of boot camp and started coming into Chicago on weekends, I stayed generally at the Wabash Y. I don't know how I found places, but I did find one or two. Then one night at the Front Page, which was a bar in the basement of what is now Nordstrom, I met my first lover here in Chicago.

' … it was a largish room. There was a band, I don't remember what kind of band, I was more interested in Geoffrey. There was a singer and one of the things I remember being sung was a rather randy version of 'Bye Bye Blackbird,' with verses that were wild.'

Don …

'It was downstairs and talk about a fire trap, there was only one way in and out. This was back in the early '60s. A friend of mine was tending bar, so we went, we had a drink and we're leaving. We're going up the stairs and the police are coming down the stairs, and I say, 'What's going on?' and my friends are saying, 'Keep going, keep going,' and they're pushing me up the stairs and out the door. There are all these squad cars and I said, 'Oh my God they're raiding the place.' And of course, here comes me, Sir Lancelot ... 'But my friend is still in there tending bar, we've got to go in and get him out.' And my friend says, 'What do you think you're going to do? Get in the car, he can take care of himself.' So much for my heroic efforts.'

Dee (Dennis) LoBue ...

'At The Front Page—Upstairs was called the Headline Room. Somebody in Calumet City said 'Let's go to Chicago.' Now, I was a junior in high school, or just started my senior year. We're talking 1958/'59. Went to the Front Page and we started to do the Hully Gully, and it was the first dance bar in Chicago. Of course, it was locked doors if you were going to dance. They had to have a doorman, because at that time we weren't allowed to touch, we weren't allowed to send drinks to anybody, we couldn't move our drinks and go and walk over to the other person. ... We could do line-dancing, but we couldn't dance together.

I was a junior in high school in '58, and I was dared to go in drag and enter the Halloween costume party at the Front Page, and I said, 'Well, I've never had a dress on in my life,' and they said, 'We'll make you up and put a dress on you, then learn a song and go onstage and I think you can win the contest.' These were buddies of mine, it was a dare. Lo and behold, I won! ... 'It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to ... ' ... that was the song. I had this yellow dress on with petticoats under it, of course back in 1958 who didn't wear petticoats? ... I won the Connie Francis lookalike contest—you won a week entertaining on stage at the Front Page. I decided I liked it so much I did it for a living, from 1959 when I got out of the service and got back to Chicago, until 1966. It was great. Met a lot of people, Terri Page, who is actually Archie, Gayle Sherman was just getting started then ... C.C. Collins, Miss Tilly had just started then, and that was just the Front Page.'


This article shared 2514 times since Wed Jan 22, 2003
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