Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-08-21
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOK REVIEW Dugan's Bistro and the Legend of the Bearded Lady
by Lauren Emily Whalen
2019-04-10

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


By Owen Keehnen

$17; Out Tales Publishing; 148 pages

Bob Theiss contained multitudes—most under a completely different name.

Known as the Bearded Lady ( or BL ) to gay Chicagoans of the 1970s and early '80s, he was part drag queen, part hedonist and all nightlife superstar. Wearing layers of thrifted stockings and oft-handmade headdresses, the BL slayed the small stage of iconic River North disco Dugan's Bistro. Author and historian Owen Keehnen chronicles the BL's rise to fame in his latest book, Dugan's Bistro and the Legend of the Bearded Lady. Short but poignant, Dugan's Bistro is an impeccably researched wild ride into an era of rainbow days and cocaine-fueled nights.

Theiss wasn't always strutting around clubs in vintage threads. Born during a solar eclipse in 1947, the man who would become a legend graduated from a Niagara Falls boarding school and finished two years of college before joining the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Tired of hiding his true self, Theiss eventually found himself in Chicago and cultivated a personality to end all others. He hoarded clothes and jewelry in his tiny apartment on Briar Place, grew his hair long and when Dugan's Bistro opened downtown, found his artistic and spiritual home.

To gay people who felt free for the first time in their lives, the Bearded Lady was a savior, as was Dugan's. Thanks to visionary Eddie Dugan, the French restaurant turned nightclub was about more than the dancing and drugs that made the '70's so notorious. Dugan loved seasonal decorations, lines out the door and on the bar and the smell of sex in the air. The Bearded Lady helped cement the Bistro's reputation as Chicago's own Studio 54. But behind the headdresses and makeup was Bob, who eventually followed love to Tokyo, earned his college degree and taught English as a second language. No matter his environment, however, the BL lived to be seen.

Keehnen culled the book's research from the internet, digital and paper archives, newspaper coverage of the BL ( from alt-weeklies to the Chicago Tribune ) and even police reports ( because Dugan's Bistro was often raided for drugs and "public indecency," the latter of which could mean whatever the cops wanted it to mean ). His passion for the titular individual is fully on display in every word.

Many young queer Chicagoans may not know that just a few decades ago, the most happening gay spaces were downtown, and that the River North area was once considered dangerous—and that a mythical figure with prominent facial hair and garish jewelry ruled the scene. Dugan's Bistro and the Legend of the Bearded Lady is an enlightening peek into the pre-AIDS past, when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt—yet.

[Note: Keehnen is an occasional contributor to Windy City Times.]


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Goldie Goldbloom on new book, being a queer Chasidic Jew 2019-08-21 - Chicago author and queer Chasidic Jew Goldie Goldbloom's newest book is On Division. It centers on the life of Surie Eckstein in Brooklyn, ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN Pushing for inclusivity in children's books, one publisher shows how 2019-08-21 - Orca Book Publishers of British Columbia, Canada, is an independent publisher with the goal of offering "reading material that represents the diversity of ...


Gay News

BOOK REVIEW The Ghost Photographer 2019-08-21 - By Julie Rieger $25; Enliven/Atria Books; 243 pages You know how they do it. It's a snap, really. A little bit of ...


Gay News

Author Shapiro speaks at Women and Children First 2019-08-14 - Fort Lauderdale-based writer Gregg Shapiro, a native of Skokie, visited Women & Children First Bookstore in Andersonville the evening of Aug. 7. Shapiro, ...


Gay News

Women & Children First to host Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor 2019-08-13 - Women & Children First is honored to present U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for a moderated conversation and audience Q&A followed by ...


Gay News

Women & Children First, forty years of book-selling history 2019-08-07 - To celebrate Women & Children First's 40th anniversary, the store will be hosting a summer block party with a feminist slant Saturday, Aug. ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Comic-book heroes, Cara and Ashley, Chris Pine, Pride Summit 2019-08-06 - The animated character Aquaman was confirmed to be LGBT+ on the latest episode of Young Justice: Outsiders—the DC Universe's animated show about teenage ...


Gay News

Gene Siskel Film Center to present Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am Aug. 23-29 2019-08-06 - As a venue that celebrates all art forms and a public program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Gene ...


Gay News

Author Toni Morrison dies at 88 2019-08-06 - Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison has died at 88. Morrison was the first Black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize, awarded ...


Gay News

Artemis Singers to join Women & Children First Bookstore Block Party 2019-08-05 - CHICAGO─Artemis Singers, www.artemissingers.org, Chicago's lesbian feminist chorus, will perform songs from 2 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., Saturday, August 24, 2019 at Women & ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.