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Transcript of interview with Bert Hood by Dennis McBride, June 16, 1998


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Bert Hood is celebrated in Las Vegas's gay history for his ownership of the Red Barn, one of our most famous gay bars. This is another of those serendipitous interviews I've conducted with someone I very much wanted to interview but didn't know how to find. Bert's in Las Vegas from Oklahoma City for just a short while visiting old friends, and I was lucky enough to have found him through Bill Schafer, president of the Southern Nevada Gay and Lesbian Historical Society. I want to thank you, Bert, for donating these two hours of your vacation time to me so I can preserve your stories for the gay community.

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[Transcript of interview with Bert Hood by Dennis McBride, June 16, 1998]. Albert "Bert" Hood oral history interview, 1998 June 16. OH-00884. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Oral History Interview with Albert "Bert" Hood m& University of Nevada, Las Vegas James R. Dickinson Library Special Collections Department 4505 South Maryland Parkway Las Vegas, NV 89154 LAS VEGAS GAY ARCHIVES ORAL HISTORY PROJECT Use Agreement We, A-/^ and Qgyvwi^ _____, hereby give to the Las Vegas Gay Archives Oral History Project for scholarly and educational use by the public, the following tape-recorded interview recorded on ~3u.Ke, IU UnAB_______________, as an unrestricted gift. This agreement grants the University of Nevada, Las Vegas legal title and all literary property rights to this interview including copyright. However, it is understood that we or our heirs are freely allowed to use the information in this recording. Date ___Ik, [ *11 & Narrator's signature Narrator's address Date 17. £- C- Interviewer's signature (ok? /W^. F fodulcW Ci\^ AJ j _________________ Interviewer's address At^epted for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas by Jvj ~ lead of Special Collections James R. Dickinson Library Date yiz tl Albert "Bert" Hood at Choices bar in Las Vegas June 16, 1998 [McBride photo] J L as Vegas Say Archives Oral Histary Interview with Albert "Bert" Head conducted by Dennis McBride June 1 <6 , 1998 Bert Hood is celebrated in Las Vegas’s gay history for his ownership of the Red Bam, one of our most famous gay bars. This is another of those serendipitous interviews I’ve conducted with someone I very much wanted to interview but didn't know how to find. Bert's in Las Vegas from Oklahoma City for just a short while visiting old friends, and I was lucky enough to have found him through Bill Schafer, president of the Southern Nevada Gay and Lesbian Historical Society. I want to thank you, Bert, for donating these two hours of your vacation time to me so I can preserve your stories for the gay community. Today is Tuesday, June 16, 1998. Tell me first, Bert, where you were bom and when you were bom7 Oh, please do we have to get personal? Very personal OK. September 21, 1930. Adelaide, Australia, in the boondocks. Actually about 90 kilometers, 62 miles out of Woodward. Sheep farm! You were bom on a sheep farm! 2 And I can still shear sheep fastem' anybody, even with those new good gadgets. There's a lot of things you can do with sheep. Yes. Did that, too! But I left there when I was 17. My dad was a biochemist which was not very popular as opposed to a doctor, but it was a good profession. The Ford Foundation was very, very heavy into biochemistry which now, with chemotherapy, as you know is acceptable. It's just the accepted fact! But he was in the beginning of that. So the University of Utah, through the Ford Foundation—which was their headquarters in those days—[brought us] over in 1947. On the boati [laughs] I won't tell ya how long it took. But they moved the headquarters to the University of Oklahoma, the Ford Foundation for biochemistry and a dozen other things, so they moved [my dad] there. Not just him, dozens of others. So I stayed in Utah for high school a little bit and my family moved to Oklahoma which they're still there. I stayed in Salt Lake City, graduated, got married. Then the Korean War hit. Well, I could get my citizenship papers in three years instead of waiting. At the time I had another 4 and half years to go [for American citizenship]. Well, without citizenship papers you just don't get a great job. They didn't have McDonald's and Long John Silver in those days. [laughs] And we were getting over a major war. 1 Anyway, so I joined [the army] and they sent me to Columbia, South Carolina and I was just married for about a year after that time. I wasn't trying to fool anybody. I just didn't know about me. Married a Mormon. She smoked. I didn't smoke. She taught me how to smoke. I didn't smoke until I got into the army. I went in as a private and came out a sergeant first class and they wanted to send me to officer candidate school and tanks. Tanks! But in the army I knew ... . I'm sorry, I think we're bom gay. I've known it all my life. I just never paid attention to it. Is [the army] when you first realized? Yes. First realized that there's more to men than just going to the restroom and suckin' a dick! There can be an affair and I fell in love with a guy for the first time in my life in the army. And I thought, "Oh, my gosh!" I couldn't believe it. And I couldn't understand why I did. Didn't make sense to me at all. I was Church of England, but I went to a Catholic priest there and I told 'im exactly what I've just 3 told you, only a little more detail. And he was very, very kind. He said, "Suffer not. live with it. Learn to live with it." He gave me a lot of good advice. Taught me not to be a whore. Did he tell you that it was not a sinl He actually did. He put it another way. And I'm very, very religious. I believe it. I pray every day for all my friends in Las Vegas. This is my home! He taught me how to live with it. He did teach me abstinence which of course I didn't listen. I did, maybe, for a weekl [laughs] He did try to teach me abstinence, but I think that's normal [for a priest to say]. There was no condemnation. When did you have your first sexual experience with a man? Are you kidding? In Adelaide, Australia. Woodward. How old were you? Oh, I would say about twelve. Not boys just getting together and masturbating. I think that's sort of a routine. Beyond that. I had a crush on this stupid soccer idiot and I had no idea. He wasn't gay but he let me. When did you have your first loving relationship with a man1 The United States Army in 1951. How long did it last1 Pretty good. I was on two different bases. Columbia, South Carolina and Camp Atterbury, Indiana. About a year and a month. You're still married during this time to the woman. I got a divorce when I got out [of the army]. Why? 4 Well, first, she had a baby out of wedlock. The army'd kept us separated. They don't do that anymore. They kept us separated for a year and two weeks. She had a baby. It wasn’t yours. Ha! I wouldn't dare! So that became my perfect excuse [for a divorce]. And at that time I was madly in love with somebody I'd met in Indianapolis, Indiana. I stayed in Indianapolis, got a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield and then they moved me to General Motors and I was in the payroll division in those days. I was 24, 23. I was in the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. I got accepted on my first audition. I was very proud of that. I kept up with my music all that time. I got that because I had sang with the Salt Lake City tabernacle choir with Helen Traubel.2 I was in the counter tenor section. Had a nice high voice then. That got me in [the Indianapolis choir]. By that time I had become a contralto. I was still alto but I was not the high. I could hit it but I couldn't stay on high C. So as a result at that point—I don't know why, I've forgotten completely—I got an audition with Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer, so I accepted the job and went to California. That was 1954. And you stayed there in show business? I lucked out. I got an agent. My first audition ... . I have no idea why he sent me to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but he did. Now, don't forget, television was taking over but they were ignoring it. They hired me for $75 a week which was pretty good in those days. And on my second six months I got a hundred and fifty. My next [contract] would have been three hundred and then their option. But at that point television, they wouldn't join it. Which they later did and they could have kept all of us there. But instead we lost out on everything. So I just came back and went to the University of Oklahoma where my parents were living at the time. Did you come to Las Vegas from Oklahoma, then? No, from California. When I got out of college [in 1957] I signed up with the Atomic Energy Commission for overseas. Money. And the salary was $175 a week with everything paid. Board, room, the works. So I went overseas. I was in 5 construction maintenance. That next year we had "27" bombs in the air. The Japanese said we had 32, which we did. And we announced to the American public we had 7. And the Russians said we had 18. They were all out there, too. Anyway, I came back from there with a bank account with Bank of America, money saved because you're tax-free after your eighteenth month. Ch’erseas. Overseas, in those days. I don't know what it is nowadays. But anyway, I came back with thousands of dollars. Let me give you the figure—$20,000! When I came back [to the U. S.] in 1959 to San Francisco. That's where they flew you back to from over there. I got a job with the San Francisco Chronicle as a payroll supervisor. At that time, data processing .... My data processing took up a bam [- sized] room. [The processing] took forever and all that room. Herb Caen, Dear Abby [are] personal friends of mine. I made their paychecks, etc., ad nauseam. Then, of course, being a ham, I could easily have been in the editorial department, but to be honest with you it just became too much of a hassle. You work your ass off! You writers work your fanny off! On deadline, besides! Yeah, that's the worst part. I could have done the work. I don't think I could have put up with a deadline. So I got a job at that point with the Steamship Pump Company. [Dear Abby] put me in with a touch who was doing something something and I got a job with Columbia Pictures—a one-shotter in those days— with Bye Bye Birdie. 3 About '61, '62? Right in there. So when it was over there were no more offers or anything. A bit parti No, no, we were just the chorus. Not the dancing chorus but the singing chorus. Was this the film1 6 Yes. It led to other things. To be honest with you I wanted to take over a bar with the country club in El Monte. They offered me the managership of it so I took it. One thing led to another, I wound up with a gay bar, I was the manager of a gay bar—turned it gay—in Arcadia, California. At that point, then, that's where I met my lover. So, anyway, that led to my lover, who was my bartender, and his wife, who was a drag fag—I called her that all the time. She was a drag fag, very good friends. When did you first come to Las Vegas1 March 19, 1962. What was it that brought you here? My sister lived here. My lover in Los Angeles, he was married and [his wife] liked gay guys. So I brought her up. She and I became good friends 'cause he and I broke up and they had a new six-month-old baby. And we came up here to visit, frankly. I was crushed because he gave me up and she was crushed he wouldn't go with her, so all of us .... I'm sure you've seen many television programs of such. But, anyway, we came up here to visit my sister and her husband. Irene—that was [my lover's wife's] name—decided to go back [to Los Angeles]. I really can't blame her. And I decided to stay here with my sister. So I got a job at the Sands Hotel as a bartender, which I was. But I also had a degree in English from the University of Oklahoma so getting a job was no difficulty at all, even with a population then of 66,000 plus. Someone said, "You should be bartender or a waiter at the Sands." Which was the major hotel then. And you could count the hotels on your fingers. If you could get a room at the Sands on a weekend then you were somebody ini The bungalows and all. It was gorgeous! But, anyway, I went there and applied for the job. I went through the union in those days and said I wanted to be a bartender. The bartenders union. And they said, "There's a long wait." I said, "Then I'll be over there till you call me in." I went over there and got a job waiting and I got my job bartending in less than six weeks by pulling strings on the inside! [laughs] 7 What strings did you pull on the inside1 Frank Sinatra I waited on almost every day with the Mob. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin .... We don't have to name those names, do we? The Rat Pack. 4 The Rat Pack. And they took care of me to the tune of a hundred, two hundred, three hundred dollars a day in tips! When they came in there to the Garden Room, which was the place to be in those days, let me tell ya, in Vegas ... . I'm Australian and so I had an accent in those days—but 1 had an even better one when they were there! flaughs] I think it's called tips! We called 'em tokes. As a result I met Marge Jacques.5 And the only sea food place in the city, the King of the Sea owned by Murray Posin, he's an attorney still here in town with his son. I became the bartender over at the Sands ... . Can 1 say that the Association [i. e., the Mob] became too strong for me at the Sands. [The King of the Sea Restaurant] offered me the bartender's job and [the place] became exceedingly successful. The Rat Pack and everybody else came there. It was gorgeous. And that's how I met Marge Jacques in 1964. She became my cocktail waitress. We only had one! [laughs] So we had it made! [laughs] Let's go from there. When you got to Las Vegas in 1962 what kind of gay life did you find here? Maxine's was the only place. And glory holes. Maxine's had glory holes! No. Little joints with slot machines. Not the bus stations. Sawdust joints, they call those little gambling places. Yes. I'm sure they're all gone. And the park downtown. Ihe city hall was right here [gestures] and that park ... . llozens of us! We met constantly down there. It was a 24-hour town in those days. When we'd get off shift we'd go down there [to cruise]. But that was the only place the police gave anybody a bad time. 8 How did they give you a bad time1 Caught you. Were they under cover? Nope. Didn't have to be. Did you ever get caught? Nope. Van [Morrell] didn't, either. None of our friends did but a lot [of others] did. Was that the rose garden or Squires Park, they called it? Squires Park! But then glory holes, you had to be very careful, ala 1A, New York, etc., and so forth you really had to ... . But glory holes were the thing. A little tap of the foot underneath ... . Those things probably still exist but they don't have to be, nowadays. But in those days everything was hidden: "Whadda you mean you own the Red Barn?" "Who said I did?" [Hood speaks with a very sober face to mimic the suspicious self-protection of gay people in the days he's speaking about] It was an automatic [reaction] in the straight public. What did they do to you if you got caught? Routine booking and then nothing. Hundred-dollar fine, fifty-dollar fine, yeah. There were no MADDs^ in those days, there were no drunken driving laws in those days. And you gotta remember one thing. It took a long time to get to Maxine's bar, the only bar in those days, [laughs] And Charleston was like this [motions the road going up and down through hills and hollows] And half of it was gravel. 9 There's a couple of bars I want to mention from that period you might remember. The Tail of the Pup? The Tail of the Pup, yes. I vaguely remember. It just wasn't my hangout so I didn't go. But now there was one bar right off Nellis Air Force Base which was a service station. But I can't remember the name of it. Nellis Boulevard, right across Las Vegas Boulevard North and there it is right there. The front gate of Nellis Air Force Base, then move back a little, and there it is. It was a converted service station. And it was a gay bar? Yes! And [the owners] were from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They had a gay bar there and they opened the gay bar [near Nellis Air Force Base]. This was in the late '60s before I owned the Red Bam. I had the Hickory House Barbecue at the time. I want to know this in detail because you did it. When you were cruising Squires Park, how did you cruise? In those days you had to be so careful. You had to be real careful but there were no windows, just the door. In the bathroom? Yeah. And the urinals were long so you just went in and pretended to take a pee. Typical San Francisco, New York City [move]. Pretended to take a pee and if there wasn't any response you just zipped up and waited [for another guy to come in]. Most of it was waiting, to be honest with ya. Cruising the bathroom, not the park itself? We did [cruise the park]. It was easy because right behind it was the city-owned tennis courts, so whether you played or not you dressed like so, so you were in [the bathroom] from the court taking a pee. So if they did question you that was one of my ... drag outfits! In case they did question you. Most of us left our shifts at the Sands and went down. Homy youth. Youthl 10 We didn't have to worry about AIDS in those days. We didn't even know what it was. So we just did our own silly, stupid thing. And by the way, it was silly. It was stupid! [laughs] It was youth. Were there any—we call 'em adult bookstores, now—then? Yes. Let me think of the time element. You're on Las Vegas Boulevard South, still in the downtown area before Sahara. And one on the Strip. [Another] in that shopping center just right down from Gelo's—it's no longer there, I think. The Mayfair Shopping Center? Yeah, in that Mayfair Shopping Center. There was one there for years and years and years. Back row movie house, we called 'em! [laughs] I don't think I ever saw a picture. I was cruising'7 Do you remember the Flick?& The Flick. That was downtown! Tell me about the Flick. It was not as popular. There was no place to park even in those days. And occasionally police would walk in and make us worried so the ownership must not have done something to please. [But] never was there any cash payoff to any official of any kind, nor to a uniformed policeman or anything else in Las Vegas, Nevada. And I owned a bar for [all those] years. No way. 1 find that amazing because that sort of thing happened in other cities. And Las Vegas was a very Mormon town, to begin with and very conservative on a number of levels. Yet they left the gay bars alone. Except {John] McCarthy kind of messed around with 'em later, but that was later.9 11 Yes, and he was making a name [for himself], really. I'm sorry, but once his name got up there [and his harassment of gay bars] was faded news, he was no longer interested. Were you familiar with the Red Bam [in the 1960s] ?10 The Red Bam at that time had just barely ... . You've got to think of the show people from this point on at the Red Bam. They met up the street there [at the Bondaire Club on Tropicana Avenue]. After twelve midnight the show people would gather there after their second show [on the Strip]. One day the owners and the straight bartenders decided to kick them out. Well, right down the street was that old [Red Bam]. Horses every Friday and Saturday out there. I'm not kidding you! Well, they started going there so it was gay after twelve midnight. And so we started going out there. Of course, at that time we had one other gay bar, Maxine's. It was a small town, don't forget. The Mafia gave us no trouble whatsoever here, neither—and this is important in your record—neither did the police in any direction. Why? 'Cause we didn't cause them any trouble. Tell me about Maxine's.11 One of the cleverest bars—I wish she'd got air conditioning. But anyway, other than that it was packed constantly and we had a good time. You were talking Sunday when I was with you about flash floods running through there. Well, it was low. It still is, but it's been corrected, of course. If you were there, which I have been, when the flash floods hit everything on Nellis Boulevard and on Tropicana, everything rises, water in the streets. And Maxine's was on a little [rise] there so we didn't have any water in the bar but your cars and everything were all the way up over the hubcaps with water. You couldn't walk anywhere because there were huge holes. One time we got stuck at Maxine's ... . And this 12 was a gay and lesbian bar. It just worked out fine. No fights in those days. I got stuck for two and half days. I just stopped by for a Wednesday afternoon and I didn't get back out of there till Friday. No one else did, either. What did they do in the bar for two days? I met my lover there because of that! [laughs] You had no choice. You were stuck with who was there! Maxine made everything free for us. Oh, beer was a horrible price! Thirty cents a bottle! Marge Jacques got 86'd from Maxine's in the late '60s. I think it had something to do with a beautiful girt. [laughs] Maxine's. One Sunday we would play at the Red Bam, her team, girls .... Softball teams? Yeah. And then the next time we would play down at Maxine's bar. And this went on for, oh, gosh! A whole summer. One time she chartered a bus, her team did. Whichever one lost had to charter the buses and she lost. Cheap buses in those days. So we went down [to Los Angeles] over night, early, early Sunday, played a game down there. Her team won. Some girl's bar down in Long Beach. We went to three bars and got kicked out—the whole bus load. So [Maxine] said, "Hell with it. Let's go find another bar." And so we found a bar and took over! What years, what period was that? This would be the early '70s. Did the bars sponsor the teams1 We sponsored 'em, yeah. Did you have names for the teams? I used the term, instead of Red Bam, I used RB. My little news sheet once a month was the RB whatever. And I was the gossip gal with the ugliest picture of a broad on there you ever saw in your life* No last names. "Well, did you hear about Jerry ... ." Blah, blah, blah. Cheap advertising is what it was. Gave us a chance to advertise. How did you come to buy the Red Bam1 Well, first of all, I had City of Music here. I was at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for pictures as a singer, and Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Brothers. They said that television will go away and therefore all of us who were under contract—I was very handsome and what have you—they got rid of us. Including Elizabeth Taylor! I'm talking about B stars. They thought we were fighting television. Anyway, I opened the City of Music here. I taught piano and voice. We had about six accordion players, teachers, two guitarists, etc., etc., plus a dance studio with kids. Nearly all kids. At that point I auditioned and got a job at the Thunderbird Hotel for a back-to-back show: Anything Goes and High Button Shoes. And that was the last thing I ever did [in show business]. The last thing I did [in California] was Columbia Pictures' Bye Bye Birdie. Well, at City of Music, there was a restaurant right up the street from us [where] we ate all the time. It was delicious! It was called the Texas Barbecue. My partner Betty [Taylor] and I bought it and we changed the name to the Hickory House Barbecue. And I opened another store very shortly—didn't cost anything in those days—and I lucked out. Luck. Kentucky Fried Chicken was opening branches everywhere so they wanted my second store location. So that got me out of that, so from there, the Red Bam. I had learned from the owner, Rick was his name, he said, "I'll sell it to you." Here's why we bought it. My partner's friend, that she went to school with, high school and everything, was Ralph Lamb 12 the sheriff. And her niece [Sue] had married Bob Broadbent, who was the head of the [Clark] County Commission. So we knew what was going to happen to the widening of Tropicana Avenue. That's why we bought the Red Barn as opposed to a gay bar. We bought it because the lease was $244,000—option to buy. The seller ... . We wound up with the Red Bam for free because the seller, after we signed all that, thought his attorney had signed the option papers with the landlord, Claude Howard—who's a legend here in this city, by the way. Everything for children at the University Medical Center is named after him. Claude I. Howard. And he was my landlord for 20 years. 13 Anyway, so. The attorney thought that Rick, the seller, had signed [the option papers]. So we wound up with zilch except the Red Bam. And I told my straight 14 Mormon partner Betty all this and I said, "Well, you realize that it's a gay bar." And they said, "Well, we're stuck with it. You run it!" They didn't know particularly that 1 was gay. What was Betty’s last name? Betty Taylor. She's dead now. What was her relationship with Ralph Lamb7 Vegas High school. And Bob Broadbent,^ of course, was the ... . He knows me very well. We get along fine. Anyhow, everything we did was before AIDS. Only thing we had to worry about then was syphilis and gonorrhea. The old routine. When was it that you bought the Red Bam? I took over July the first, 1972. July 1, 1972. In those days you had no meetings here except once a month in Las Vegas. Once a month with the Nevada Gaming Commission for your slot machines. And we owned the slot machines in those days. It was easy. As opposed to now. What kind of background check did you have to undergo to get your licensing1 Everything! They knew more about you than your mother and your father ever thought. What about you, in particular? They knew everything about me. I had been with the Atomic Energy Commission. I didn't fool them and they didn't fool me. So no problem. But they had to fly in those days to Carson City, or drive. That was how you got your license. Now, of course, you do it here, mostly. So Betty flew up there and got the license because only one partner has to go and we were fifty-fifty partners. And we took [the Red Bam] over at that point. 15 They still had the gay people from the shows. In those days they had a tremendous amount of male show people. I don't think they have that so much anymore, but they did then. So I'm not kidding you. We thought nothing of putting in—against the law, of course, the fire department—but we put three and four hundred people in there easily on a Friday and Saturday night after twelve. But we decided to go all gay and get rid of that daily no-money horse trade which was a legend out there. You gotta remember, now, this is important in your record—that was boondocks'. What did the Red Bam look like? One swamp cooler air conditioning! But the humidity in those days was only 6% average so that huge swamp we had worked great! [The building] had no insulation in there, nothing. I will be honest that within two years we had to change that and put in some huge window air conditioners and used the swamp cooler for the back. But mostly I started making money and going on the map when Le Cafe opened. Le Cafe opened one year before I did and we were always good friendslS—until I became competition! Even Maxine ... . Was there contention in those days among the bars? I think in those days there were only three bars: Maxine's, Le Cafe, and the Red Bam. We actually fought each other constantly. In what ways? Word of mouth. Openly. "Well, did you hear what Marge did last night?" "I^id you hear what Bert Hood, that faggot, did?" Did it damage your businesses? Nooo\ Everybody ignored it and had a laugh out of it. And Marge [Jacques] and I started out about the same time, and I'm gonna be honest, I don't know whose idea it was first, doesn't matter. That little newsletter? Hand-written. 1 ^ We could have type-written 'em but couldn't have cared less. Before computers! [laughs] Hand-written. But it was just a camp. And I wish you would mention that we made a covenant without any signing, without any, "I pledge allegiance." We all agreed that whatever we wrote for the public, no last names were ever mentioned. Except the owners of the bars. We couldn't possibly [cost] anybody their jobs. How serious was the thread As far as the police were concerned the threat was zero. But let's assume—and we had many, I could name names right there—let's assume you were an assistant pit boss.17 You know what their power is. If they had accidentally wanted to get even with somebody, somebody wanted his job and took that name in there—"Hey, do you see what ... ." [rolls his eyes] The Mafia was that way. The Organization was that way in those days. They put up with anything as long as it was private. When it became public then they just took care of it. How did they deal with the show people, then, who were very open about being gayl They couldn't care less. They were open contracts and that was it. They weren't on their payrolls. The casino personnel were on the payrolls. Yes. So we set up the gossip columns [in our bar publication] And then, of course, being an old show man, I started 'em all—Maxine and Marge followed me. I started the first shows. What sort of shows? Well, I had a bartender who had been with the Mary Kay Trio. He was their accountant manager, for years traveling with 'em and so forth. He knew all the show people and he introduced me to all of them. And, of course, I was in show business. Bill Lundy, Bill was [also] my bartender. Bill had been a dancer for years in shows and so forth and shows and shows. I was 40 and Bill was about 5 years older than me. Well, he said, "Let's do a show!" He knew exactly [what to do]. 17 Meanwhile, I paid a carpenter friend of ours—gay—and he came in and lined [the inside of the building] with [insulation]. That saved everything. We did our first show, which lasted about 40 minutes. What was that first show? A drag show? Yeah, drag shows. But we had show business people do their special this or that. And I was in show business so I did Anna Russell. 18 "Are you from Big D?" I never did any other number. And I did the Anna Russell number [mimics]: "Today’s performance is intended for those who wish to make a ca-reah of the voice. I'm very well qualified for this position because I was for almost ten years the perfect idol of my favorite voice teacher, Harold Schlackoschlockylockshiko. He taught me everything I know [laughs] including singing." All that sort of thing. It was a nice little fill-in. Because we would have serious drag numbers. But mostly we had serious comedy. And this is important, I hope you list it. Although everything was destroyed by the break-in that I had in my house—we did 17,781 shows. How come you remember that exact number? Because I ran the lighting and the sound. In the beginning we had to do huge reel-to-reel [tapes]. And in the middle of a brilliant number if the tape broke you were in trouble! [laughs] And now it's just cassettes and easy. There were a couple of things I had from other people. Marge [Jacques] said at the time she opened Le Cafe, and later when she opened Gipsy, there was a law on the books—as there was in southern California—that an individual couldn't wear more than two or three items of clothing from the opposite sex. That was true. Which is why they tried to stop her from having drag shows. Was that the case in Las Vegas, too? Yes. 18 What happened that you were able to give your drag shows? They'd just ignore us. Why? They could have cared less. They didn't enforce that law? They couldn't have cared less. And by the way, it's no longer on the books. We helped get that out and we used Bob Broadbent and a whole bunch of us that just quietly ... . "Let's get rid of the stupid thing." That was when we were still very small. But don't forget, now, this is important. The Organization [Mob] kept us in the boondocks. Marge Jacques' Le Cafe was in the boondocks. My Red Bam was the boondocks. Maxine's, certainly. "Stay away from us and we'll stay away from you." It was that simple. May I say that one more time? Yes. [moves closer to the microphone] "Stay away from us and we will stay away from you." Can you understand that? That's why there were no gay bars on the Strip1 [mugs] Ohh! It would have been blown up, destroyed immediately. There was one I remember from 1978 [that was on the Strip]. The Alibi Room. The Alibi Room. The Alibi. Do you remember the Alibi Room? Vaguely. 19 It was on the Strip in a couple of different locations from the '60s to the ’70s. Yep. Do you remember much about it? Nop