Six years ago, the Guild Literary Complex ( the Guild ) conceived of an annual benefit where social and literary themes could be explored in a fun setting. Last year's event, REVEAL 25, celebrated the Guild's 25th anniversary with a focus on 25 writers.
This year's event, "Wink & Whisper: A 1920s LGBT Cabaret," will take place Sunday, May 17, at Uptown Underground, which is rumored to be a former Capone speakeasy. The event will feature a variety of performances from LGBT and allied performers who will be celebrating the LGBT community of the 1920s through music, song, comedy and dance.
Founded in 1989, the Guild, according to its website, "is a Chicago-based literary organization presenting and supporting diverse, divergent, and emerging voices through programming that is as dynamic as Chicago itself. Actively working with individuals and organizations from all of Chicago's many neighborhoods, the Guild seeks to connect seemingly disparate groups and geographies through literaturebringing unexpected writers, programs, and audiences together."
The theme of this year's event was inspired by St. Sukie de la Croix's book Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall. Women & Children First will have copies of his book for sale at the benefit.
"I moved to Chicago from England in 1991 and began writing for the local gay press soon afterward," said de la Croix ( who will be unable to attend the event ). "Chicago Whispers started as a weekly column for Windy City Times and included random memories of senior members of Chicago's gay community. I talked to a guy in his nineties and he remembered going to a speakeasy with a drag show during prohibition. That got me started writing my book about that time. When [Director] John Rich from the Guild Literary Complex contacted me with the idea of Wink & Whisper, I was overjoyed that my book had inspired others to create art."
Multidisciplinary performer Tamale Sepp will emcee the event. Performers will include Vallery Dolls, Switch the Boi Wonder, Dirty Devlin, Toni Asante Lightfoot ( as Jackie "Moms" Mabley ), the jazz group Chicago Diamond Trio, musician Nick Sula, author Jennie Brier ( who will provide historical observations about the 1920s ), poet Coya Paz and, at the dance party, DJ Reaganomix.
"At Wink & Whisper, guests can expect a compelling and memorable event featuring a celebration of Chicago's LGBTQ history as well as the present and the future," said Rich. "Performers were chosen because of their immense talent and their willingness to manifest the spirit of the Roaring Twenties. The night will be a tonic, just as the Guild is a tonic for Chicago's arts landscape. As a literary presenter, we cross and connect lines between identities, cultures, generations, educational experiences, and artistic visions. Wink & Whisper will showcase what the Guild does best on a grand scale."
Guests are invited, but aren't required, to dress in 1920s attire and compete in a costume contest with prizes being awarded to the best dressed.
Wink & Whisper sponsors include Crew Bar + Grill; Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine; Uptown Underground; Vincent Restaurant; WCPT AM & FM and Windy City Media Group.
The event is open to the public ages 18 and up and will run from 6 p.m. to midnight. Tickets range from $12 ( for the dance party only ) to $200 ( for premium reserve seating ) and include admission to the after party which begins at 9 p.m.
To purchase tickets, visit www.wink-and-whisper.brownpapertickets.com . See www.guildcomplex.org for more information.