Memories of the Front Page bar Pt. 2
Dee LoBue …
'(The owner was) Nate Zuckerman, interesting guy. Brilliant when it came to liquor and managing bars, he knew what to do. In fact, he was the first one to start buffets on Sunday. He said, 'Why don't we have sandwiches and a buffet on Sunday. Let's see if we can get people in on a Sunday afternoon.' You couldn't open until 12 noon then. Beer was $2.22 a case. It was syndicate beer from Cicero, we called it The Green Piss, it was the world's worst. Of course, everything you bought in the bar you had to buy through the syndicate. But Nate Zuckerman was an interesting guy, and I don't know if he's around anymore. He would have to be about 90-95 years old.'
'I moved here in 1961. I did not know one single solitary soul here in Chicago, and I lived on Fullerton. I heard about a bar called the Front Page and it was a nice bar. John Coleman was the manager of the bar and Frances was the waitress, she had a mouth like a truck driver ... she was married and had a grown daughter. She wasn't a young woman anymore. I would say 45. Anyway, they were going to put on a drag show; Jackie Lynn was there, no wig, nothing, and Terri Page, she did Moms Mabley and I screamed above a Sophie Tucker record, and that's how I got started doing my drag here in Chicago. I was wearing a little street dress. A little short dress, I bought a cheap-ass wig and had someone do it up or me—I don't even remember who did it up for me.'
'You walk downstairs and it was a gay bar, it was Black and white, mostly men, a few women. Fran Wilson who used to work at the Shoreline 7, a white woman, she always wore a black dress ... and the Front Page started up about the last part of '59, early 1960, and Fran Wilson was a '26' dice girl, she was also a waitress for Nathan Zuckerman.
'The first floor was a notorious straight bar, a pick-up bar, and that's where the police would raid. The gay guys would tell their friends, 'I'm going to the Front Page,' ... y'know, 'All those wild women!' and they're actually going downstairs. Nathan Zuckerman had connections, you probably heard about that? OK, so you know who his connections were, and he owned that lesbian bar on Wabash Avenue. Anybody could go on the first floor, and the second floor was lesbians only. He let me in on that second floor, and there was another man from Gary, older man ... he spent money like crazy ... he went up there too. They called him Joe, in Gary they called him Rosy, he was a switch-hitter. The post office supervisor used to hang out there, quite a lot of women used to hang out there, you'd be surprised who went there.'
e.mail from Jaye Sutherland …
'Entrance on Grand, downstairs. Long room. Bar on the right with stools. Some tables and chairs. The show was in a corner of the room. As for Johnny, he was the manager. (He gave the orders and paid us.) Yes, Nate (Nathan Zuckerman) was the owner as far as I know, I never met him. Found if you didn't ask too many questions or know too much, you didn't get in trouble. I think Gary (Gail Sherman) was a bartender there. I remember her doing Yma Sumac with eyeballs taped to her ass. She may have better recollections. First thing she ever did. Johnny was a very strange guy; he would lock us in the bar after it closed to party until dawn. Sometimes as late as 7 a.m. When I went there Terry Page was Queen of the roost. They loved her. I think Kaye Leslie also worked there.'
If you enjoy reading Chicago Whispers, please try to attend the following event. I'll be there.
'Awesome Hero Productions and filmmaker Ron Pajak expect an enthusiastic crowd at its outreach and fundraiser for three documentary works-in-progress on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2003 from 5-8 p.m. at Berlin Nightclub.
'In addition to live entertainment by MC Mike Rogers, supporters will also enjoy appetizers, beer, wine and soft drinks, live DJ mixes, raffle prizes, a silent auction including a stay at the Casa Flamboyant resort in sunny Puerto Rico, and featured clips from the three works-in-progress.
'Awesome Hero Productions anticipates this benefit will draw a cross-section of the community, reflected in the variety of the documentaries being completed: Last Call at Kitty's, an oral history of lesbian and gay Chicago in the days before liberation, when social networks were formed underground, by word–of-mouth and beneath the nightstick of police raids; Getting Old Ain't for Sissies, examines the final years of George Buse, an elder activist of the gay and lesbian community who struggled with poverty, physical challenges and isolation while fighting to maintain a lifeline to the queer world; Picked Last follows the story of neophyte adult men assembled to play a team sport for the very first time. Filmmaker Ron Pajak has been producing and directing theses three films simultaneously over the past five years and is currently heading into post-production.
'Proceeds from the evening will assist in post-production expenses such as transcription services, archival research and acquisition, voice-over recording, scoring and sound mixing. In addition to raising completion funds for these films, the event will also provide outreach from three thematically related organizations, Horizon Community Services, Gerber/Hart Library and Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association. Representatives will be available to provide organization information to those unaware of their missions.
'Ron Pajak has been producing independent film since 1995. Previous successful works include His Daily Bread and Bob Waving, which have been screened at many film festivals including those in London, Hamburg, New York and Chicago. Call Awesome Hero Productions, (312) 925-7800.'
The memory section is only to be used as a starting point for research. Send your stories to Sukie de la Croix at Windy City Times. You can leave a message on his voicemail at 773-871-7610. He interviews over the phone, in person, or via e-mail email@example.com