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Gay History: Chicago Whispers
Part 3 of a series on some of Chicago's more obscure gay bars.
by Sukie de la Croix

In 1985 there was a bar called Dan's On Clark, located at 6341 N. Clark St., which a year later became the Pelican. The Pelican was mostly a men's bar. In 1988, the Pelican had country music on Wednesdays. Orville 'Butch' von Toland, and Don 'Wheezy' Crenshaw bartended at the bar and both died in the fall of 1992.

The Palace at 3401 N. Sheffield was around in 1982- '83 and on March 3, 1983, they hosted a benefit for AIDS project. This was one door north of what later became Deeks.

The Penquin at E. 75th St. and S. Yates Ave. was a mixed men's/women's bar and was open in 1973.

The Price Is Right Lounge at 5035 N. Sheridan Road was open in '88 and on Sept. 16 of that year they celebrated Micky's Birthday Bash with an open bar from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. and a buffet from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. You entered the bar through a door on Carmen.

Qui Qui at 1200 N. Halsted was a Latin drag bar that opened in 1978.

The Ranch at 112-14 W. Hubbard St. opened in May 1979. The late Lisa Eaton performed there every Tuesday night; it was called Over the Rainbow. On April 28, 1980, Curt 'Rocky' Blau, 31, was stabbed to death in the bar. He was formerly a bouncer at Stage 618, the Ten-oh-Two, the New Flight and O'Bannion's.

The Ritz Manhattan at 910 W. Buena was first listed as a gay bar in December 1989.

The RiverEdge Cabaret at 3548 N. River Road. Franklin Park was a lesbian bar and was open from '87 thru '89 and possibly longer. On Feb. 17, 1989, they celebrated their 3rd anniversary party. Roxzy, an erotic dancer, performed at midnight.

The Riverside Club at 1015 N. Halsted St. was a private non-alcoholic, membership club for men around 1982.

It's now called Escapades, but 6301 S. Harlem was the Inn Between back in the '70s and then Scorpie's. On Oct. 31, 1980, Dana's Dames presented Scorpie's Annual Extravaganza. Best costume $100, Most Original $75, Best Drag $50, and Honorable Mention $25. Contest was at midnight and followed by a Goulish Buffet. Door prizes. $5 at the door.

The Set Lounge at 6539 W. Roosevelt Rd. Berwyn, sometimes to referred to as Shirley's Set Lounge, was listed as a gay bar from 1972-'74. Also listed as gay in 1980 was Sharon's Side Track at 1113 W. Lawrence which was predominantly a men's bar. Showcase One at 959 W. Belmont was quite the place back in 1986, although I've never met anyone who went there. Every Friday there was a Boylesque Revue at the bar. On May 6, 1986 there was An Evening With Taisha (Thomas). Other characters at the bar were Michael Love, Jovanda Grace, Brandy Alexander, and Tina Ray.

The manager of Showcase One was Scott Forman. WCT's gossip columnist Mimi O' Shea (Jeff McCourt) wrote in May '86: 'The incomparable Ethel Herman pulled out her nylons and all the stops in her recent return appearance at Showcase One. Dressed in black chiffon and string pearls, Ethel sang to an enthusiastic crowd at last week's Monday night talent search.'

In 1975, Si, Como No on Sheffield and Barry was a short-lived Latin bar with Louis from the El Dorado as one of the bartenders. Siegelman's Allegro at 2828 N. Clark was in the Century Mall in 1979.

It advertised itself as Aurora's first gay disco, and as far as I'm aware it was the last. The Spectrum Disco at 7 S. Stolp St. opened in 1976 and, I think, closed in 1979. In 1979 the Aurora Gay People's group held a monthly bingo social event at the bar. On Oct. 15, 1978, Maxine King did three shows in one night.

If you have memories to share, contact Sukie de la Croix at Windy City Times. You can leave a message on his voicemail at 773- 871-7610. He collects memories and interviews over the phone, in person, or via e-mail

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