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235 E. Michigan Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 277–7795
Fax: (414) 277–0645
For more than a century, drag has been an unstoppable force in Milwaukee nightlife. On June 7, 1884, “The Only Leon” brought the fine art of female impersonation to the Grand Opera Hall, launching a proud local legacy that continues today at This Is It, La Cage, Hamburger Mary’s, D.I.X. and innumerable other venues.
Historians Michail Takach and B.J. Daniels recognize that today’s LGBTQ liberties were born from the strength, resilience and resistance of yesterday’s gender-nonconforming pioneers. This is a long-overdue celebration of those stories, including high-rolling hustler of the Fourth Ward “Badlands” Frank Blunt, over-the-top dinner theater drag superstar of the 1950s Adrian Ames and “It Kid” Jamie Gays, first-ever Miss Gay Milwaukee and Latin community hero. And many, many more.
About the Author
B.J. Daniels was always looking for outlets to use their talent for art, theater and costuming. Doing drag led to hair and makeup work onset for film and video, which led to teaching and learning the art of hairdressing as a licensed professional, which led to assignments in fashion for regional magazines, which led to covering Fashion Week in New York City for many years. B.J. still works behind the chair, and lens, and still performs in drag here and there as time and energy allows.
Michail Takach is a historian, author, reporter and communications professional living in Los Angeles. He earned his master’s degree in communications and history at the University of Wisconsin. As the curator of the Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project, Michail produces ongoing articles, documentaries and podcasts about local history.
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