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Gerber/Hart Library hosts virtual panel on The 10% Show
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2020-05-16

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The 10% Show was the focus of a May 13 virtual panel hosted by Gerber/Hart Library and Archives.

A cable access Chicago-based LGBTQ monthly newsmagazine, The 10% Show ran for 21 episodes between 1989-1991 and covered politics, entertainment and community organizations.

Northwestern University Ph.D. candidate Lauren Herold—whose research is focused on LGBTQ cable access shows—was the event moderator.

Panelists included The 10% Show executive director/producer Jack Ryan, show co-host/segment producer Sarah Siegel and show segment producer/production crew member Tom Rowan.

Herold asked Ryan why he created the show and how Siegel and Roway got involved.

Ryan said when he attended the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, he met people from the New York City-based Gay Cable Network, giving him the idea to start an LGBTQ-focused show in Chicago. He noted that it took about two years to get the right people on board to do the show for free; outreach included hosting meetings, having a booth at what was then called the Halsted Street Fair ( now known as Northalsted Market Days ) and talking to the press.

Siegel said at the time she was volunteering for the Horizons Community Services ( now Center on Halsted ) help line. A friend who was also volunteering suggested they go to a meeting for the show; after that meeting, she signed on to help get the show off the ground.

Roway said he found the show through an article in Windy City Times that included Ryan's home phone number. He said that conversation and going to his first meeting at Ryan's apartment sealed the deal for him.

Everyone reminisced about putting the show together and the various topics they chose to cover.

Siegel said that, outside of having a girlfriend, she really did not know anything about the wider LGBTQ community and doing the show taught her so much. She noted that the show gave her great insights into, among other things, the Black gay community and International Mr. Leather—the latter which she would never have attended otherwise.

Ryan spoke about the brainstorming sessions they had during their show meetings, stressing how important it was to all of them to create a diverse program that spoke to the entire Chicago LGBTQ community. He said they did stories on then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, alderpeople and a contentious event at Ann Sather that had other news outlets clamoring for the show's video footage since they did not cover it themselves.

Rowan said the show was very topical—meaning they would get segments on the air as quick as possible. He added that he would never have gone to body-positive organization Girth and Mirth if he was not involved with the show.

In terms of the response by Chicago's LGBTQ community, Ryan said Tracy Baim—whom he calls the Claire Boothe Luce of Chicago—was an early supporter, as was Roscoe's owner Jim Ludwig and Sidetrack co-owners Art Johnston and Pepe Pena. He added that the leather community and now-shuttered Mountain Moving Coffeehouse championed the show because they did stories on their groups.

Herold asked about any antagonistic responses they might have gotten.

Ryan said when they were covering an AIDS demonstration a man came up to them and said he wished every gay person would contract the disease. Siegel spoke about a lesbian kiss-in outside of Water Tower Place; two men she was interviewing said the event was "disgusting" and used the "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" line—to which she said, "Well, this is Eve and Eva." The men ended up leaving after another woman asked them why they were watching the event.

Other topics ranged from show finances to the fact that their production company, SBC, stood for "Shitty But Cool."

A Q&A session followed.

To watch episodes of The 10% Show, visit GerberHart.org//the-10-show .


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