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Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project showcases 'History of Milwaukee Drag' starting June 27
-- From a press release
2022-04-21

This article shared 586 times since Thu Apr 21, 2022
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Milwaukee, WI. - A History of Milwaukee Drag: Seven Generations of Glamour, by local historians Michail Takach and BJ Daniels, will be released Monday, June 27 by The History Press.

For nearly 150 years, Milwaukee has produced a long, proud and scandalous legacy of drag superstars. A History of Milwaukee Drag explores the highs and lows of gender identity across the city's history, and the rise and fall of drag-dominant nightlife throughout the 1920s, 1950s, 1980s and today.

"We have always been here," said co-author B.J. Daniels. "People who stood outside societal norms have always found connection and community with others like themselves. This is the first time our history has been explored from the approach of generational heritage."

Milwaukee has been a favorite stop for touring female impersonators Julian Eltinge, Karyl Norman, and the Jewel Box Revue; a home base for midcentury divas Adrian Ames and Billie Herrero; the birthplace of Wisconsin LGBTQ pride when angry urban queens fought back at the Black Nite Brawl; a hotspot for high-end, Hollywood-level productions with the Holly Brown Revue and the Club 219 Girls; and ultimately, an incubator for dynamic and diverse international drag superstars, including Trixie Mattel, Jaymes Mansfield, Joey Jay, Jaida Essence Hall and more. In recent years, even ballroom house has made a comeback in Milwaukee, as a source of queer visibility, community and celebration.

"The question is always, why Milwaukee?" said co-author Michail Takach. "What is it about Milwaukee that drag has thrived for nearly 140 years when other cities outlawed drag over and over again?"

"So many of our drag and gender non-conforming elders were forced into hidden lives due to social rejection," said Michail Takach. "When they passed away, they took their remarkable life stories with them, never to be told again. Many times, their immediate survivors destroyed priceless photos out of shame or confusion. As a result, the community was often denied the heroes, role models and mentors they rightly deserved."

"The Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project exists so that every one of these elders receives the applause they were denied in their lifetimes. And this book, especially, will include many reasons for applause."

"Given the political climate today, it's important that LGBTQ people know our history," said Daniels. "So many have worked so hard, and so long, to discover our long-hidden history, and now, it is in danger of being censored, silenced, and erased."

Pre-orders are now available at independent local booksellers or through Amazon.com . Book release events, including slideshows and signings, will be announced in the weeks ahead. Media inquiries are welcome at wislgbtqhistory@gmail.com .

About BJ Daniels

In the late 1970s LGBT scene, B.J. Daniels made their queer dreams come true as an unapologetic gender bender. At 22, B.J. was a member of the premier show cast at the iconic Club 219. Forty years later, the experiences and memories of a lifetime of performing and observing the drag scene provides B.J. an intimate glimpse into the rich history of Milwaukee's Golden Age of Drag.

About Michail Takach

Growing up in a time of great social reinvention, Michail Takach has been fascinated with Milwaukee's unique history, architecture and culture since a young age. As an author, historian, nonprofit leader and communications professional, he has a relentless commitment to celebrating our local color. While Michail lives in Los Angeles, where he has been consulting on LGBTQ historical documentaries, he will always have deep roots in Milwaukee.

"The Golden Age of Milwaukee Drag" is a follow-up to Takach's "LGBT Milwaukee," released by Arcadia Publishing in 2016 as the first comprehensive social history of local LGBTQ life.

About the Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project

Founded by Don Schwamb, the Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project seeks to reconnect Wisconsin with its lost LGBTQ history. Since 1995, the Project has become the state's largest digital collection of historical LGBTQ media The project provides independent consulting, walking tours, presentations, publications, and research services. The Project is independent, not-for-profit, self-funded and volunteer-run.

The Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project Inc. is a sponsored project of the Cream City Foundation Inc., and accepts tax-exempt donations through the Foundation as our 501c3 fiscal agent.


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