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No Drag in Birmingham in the 60s


Trevor talks abut the lack of drag queens in Birmingham in the 1960s. “We used to go down to London in the sixties, and that is the only place we saw drag, we used to go into the East End, the pubs, and there was all drag acts, but never in the Midlands, ever, we didn’t come across it and we used to wonder why don’t they have them on, but they weren’t popular outside of London.”

“I think it must have started when the clubs got going, I would say seventies, but it was going on in London in the pubs a long time ago, one particular pub in London was called The Oval, and Dusty Springfield used to go in there with her friend. We used to go there of a Sunday and there was always drag there, but nothing when you got home. I used to find that strange. Not in Birmingham I never came across it, you never saw anyone walk out in drag, ‘Oh dear, what’s that?’, you’d never see anything like that, not even (in the privacy of) the bars. Quite frankly, I think the bar man, the licensee, would throw them out, in the bars you had to behave properly. I know there was one at the Troc, Mr Steele, was a very strong landlord, he was very friendly and knew he had a gay bar, he accepted it because that was where his money was, but you couldn’t cross the line with him and it wasn’t till the seventies when you used to get the more outrageous person coming in and I always remember one of them was called Cheyenne, and he used to come in with hair all bouffanted up and everyone used to think it was outrageous, and he was so bold, he couldn’t care less, and another one, used to dress exactly the same, and that was the most outrageous thing we saw in bars.”

Contributed by: Trevor Hall, 76

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