Click here for the first part of Doris’ memoir of dancing with Times Squares.
On Valentine’s Day I found myself with a group of young men readying themselves to perform. The group had been practicing since Christmas. It was to be their premiere performance, a Valentine’s Day party. Our group was to be the star attraction.
Long ago the men knew we needed an act for the party, but they could never agree on just what it should be. They settled on a dance to a recording, and they asked me if I would help them. It was a great honor for a straight female.
Every club dance night the men and I would go upstairs in the school to a large hallway and practice. A really imaginative session with the men resulted. Some of the men danced and some of them directed. The men changed lines and cues to the demands of everyone during the constant reception. I behaved myself (which was hard among all those handsome young men) and did what I was told. In the end it turned out to be a pretty good performance. In fact, it was a show-stopper. Nothing else would have sufficed.
The performance was held at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center. The Center, as it was lovingly called, was an old New York City School that the gay community had renovated.
In addition to rehearsing for the performance, the men all had to scavenge for the costumes and props. My assignment was to get myself a black leather jacket. Carl, a dancer who lived near me, said he would loan me his. Mark, one of the best artists ever, painted a picture on a piece of cloth of a skull and crossbones crowned by a bat above, on which he printed “Bats from Hell”. Below the skull and crossbones, he printed “NYC CYCLE CLUB”. This picture was fastened to the back of the jacket. The appearance was so real that Carl, the owner of the jacket, almost fainted. Mark located a little black hat for me to wear. There were chains across the back of the hat to match the chains draped over my shoulders and in my hands. I could have been one of the Hell’s Angels for all anyone knew!
The club had rented a room at the Center, just off the dance hall, where the actors were to change their clothes. The men had not worn their costumes to the hall, finding it a little too hard to wear dresses around town … even in as liberal a city as New York
The men’s costumes were fantastic. They had wigs, most of them blond. They also had pantyhose, some of them very fancy like the ones you see in the Frederick’s catalogue, and high heeled shoes. A couple of them had on decollate dresses and Frederick’s of Hollywood underwear, garter belts – the whole works. The men were all dressed like “Women of the Night,” complementing my motorcycle gang member attire. I looked more like a Gray Panther than the biker I had tried to emulate.
The dance hall was decorated to the hilt. Mark and Paul had hung red and white streamers from corner to corner and side to side in the hall. There were Cupids shooting arrows all over the place. In another room, off the rear of the dance hall, there were refreshments.
The cast danced in a circle. The first time I came around the circle they all clapped. There were over on hundred men there. The second time I came around, the men were all on their feet screaming. It was the one and only time in my life that I received a standing ovation.