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  WINDY CITY TIMES

chicago whispers
by Sukie de la Croix
2001-08-29

This article shared 2421 times since Wed Aug 29, 2001
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"It was Take One on Clark St. and Wellington. I heard about it from friends. It was a video bar and Shelley was tending bar. Then I started going to the Windy City, which was a second-story bar on the corner of Halsted and Clark. It was nice but a bit shady. That was 1987.

"But I started working in the bars in 1989, and that was at Bistro Too. I got hired by T.L. Noble, he was the manager at the time. I was hired as a barback and I went to a bartender. I worked there for 2-1/2 years. It was hectic. That was when drag queen wrestling came out, and that was a bunch of guys that got together, dressed up in drag and wrestled in the wrestling ring. We had a blast. That's how I got the name Killer. I'm Helen Killer, the blind wrestler.

"They would lead me on, then when I was in the ring, suddenly I could see!! I wrestled against Tina, against the Bride of Doom, against Mad Mary Kay, and against Mildred Fierce; fabulous person, fabulous entertainer. We had a good time at Bistro Too, and then I started working at Different Strokes and had an even better time. I was working at Strokes for 9-1/2 years.

"I started performing at Different Strokes on the pool table. We put wood over the table, and had a staircase going up to it ... it was phenomenal." ... Steve "Killer"

The first bar I went to ...

"It was the old Annex downtown and it was near the old Gold Coast. I met my first lover there that evening. We hit it off immediately and we proceeded to walk down the street to where North Bank is now and that was the Gold Coast. We went down to the catacombs and fooled around. I was 19. I was total chicken. Now I'm working across the street from the old Gold Coast. Talk about full circle." ... D_____

First Bar ...

"It was the Bistro. It was about 1972. When I moved up to Chicago some of my pals told me about it and I went with them. But when I got inside I ran, because I was in the closet. I ran. I didn't know it was going to be a gay bar, then all of a sudden I see all these guys. I said, 'Oh my god, this is a fucking queer bar.' I was thinking, 'I'm queer but I can't let anybody know because I'm closeted.' So I ran and got lost somewhere around Hubbard and Dearborn." ... Frankie Da Kat

Chicago Molly ...

"Chicago Molly was a personality, and I met her when she was a bartender at the Nutbush. That's where she got started. She's the one who introduced me and Gordy ( Ron's partner ) at the Butterfly. She's also the one who presented me with my Gay Chicago Personality award. She was like a Mother Carol, she was heavy, and she did drag. She was in that mold of Michael K. In fact, she had a bar on Clark Street for a while called Molly's Follies. It was right down the street from the Inner Circle and the Checkmate. It was a little bar. Molly worked in various bars. She died, I don't remember if it was AIDS. I was at her funeral at St. Alphonso's. The last place she worked was at L.A Connection. She did benefits, she did shows, she was the comedian, something we don't have anymore. But she started out at the Nutbush. Her real name was Larry Berlandi." ... Ron Helizon, the Polish Princess

Memory Check: Chicago Molly opened Molly's Follies at 2568 N. Clark St. in August 1980. In Gay Chicago Aug. 21, 1980, there is a photo of Larry "Sophie" Graham at the opening; Sophie was working there on Saturdays and Sundays. That night there was a free buffet, go-go dancers, and a raffle...the first prize was a portable TV.

In the Aug. 22, 1980 issue of GayLife, the Polish Princess wrote: "The joint was jumping as the new camp bar Molly's Follies held its grand opening. Seen enjoying the colorful balloons and sipping champagne were Marge of His 'n' Hers, and her delightful new bartender Hazel, Scotty of the Carnival, Chicago's only non-alcoholic bar, Wes & Bob of Checkmate II, and Charlie of the Flight."

Also in attendance that night were Adrene Perom ( Big Red ) , Philip Moretti, and Carol's Speakeasy owners Dennis Vernaki, David Meyers and Fred Kramer.

Prior to Molly's Follies, K's on Klark was located at 2568 N. Clark...the manager was Michael K. Before K's, the bar was Robert's Lounge, and before that Pourquoi Pas...all gay bars. Does anyone remember these bars?

Future historians take note: The memory section in this column contains just that...memories...and are only to be used as a starting point for your 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 sukiedelacroix@ozhasspoken.com


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