Martin D. Goodkin


Martin D. Goodkin
Fort Lauderdale, FL
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Gay, Poor Old Man

Entertainment > How Halloween Became a Gay Holiday Part 1

How Halloween Became a Gay Holiday Part 1

is a distinct difference between cross dressers, drag queens and the
neighbors who put a lamp shade on their head for Halloween. And neither
catagory necessarily means the person is gay or has a sexual identity
problem. I don't profess to be an expert on any of these subjects though
I have enjoyed Jim Bailey as Barbra Streisand in his one man show in
Las Vegas. I am not a fan of 'Dame Edna' but I loved Charles Pierce and
who didn't laugh at Flip Wilson as Geraldine?

Since ancient days men
have gone on stage dressed as women and the Shakespearean era was known
for not allowing women on stage. There is an excellent movie starring
Billy Crudup and Claire Danes with the latter playing female figures
such as Desdemona on stage until the king decrees that women can do
stage roles
. There was also "Shakespeare in Love" where Gwyneth
Paltrow had to play a young man auditioning for the role of Romeo. Who
hasn't laughed at Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag in "Some Like It
Hot" or enjoyed Dustin Hoffman as "Tootsie"?

What does all this have to do with Halloween
being a Gay holiday? What follows is MY experience and what I observed
over the years. Now I haven't been into a gay bar in years so I don't
know if this Halloween we will still see hundreds of Judy Garlands and
Nuns but at one time both were a symbol of the holiday.

the 1950s and 1960s many States had laws on the books--and some
probably still do--that a man could not dress as a woman or he could be
arrested. In fact I went to a number of bars, called the Bird Circuit,
in New York where men where not allowed to touch each other. Some had
dancing in a back room and if a bartender thought a customer looked
suspicious, like a plainclothesman, he would flick the lights in the
backroom from a switch under the bar and the men would immediately stop

then there were infamous drag balls in Harlem that were known far and
wide attended by many socialites. The costumes were outrageous, each one
more glamorous than the next one and though illegal it went on without a
hitch. Dressing up in costume for Halloween became high art and some of
the grandest balls were held that night.

vaguely remember being in the Faision D'Or bar one Halloween sort of
surprised by all the women who were in there--hey I was young back
then--only to slowly became aware it was men. Living in New York drag
shows were nothing new and in fact there was a nightclub that catered to
tourists where the cast was all men dressed as women except for one
woman dressed as a man. Yes even back then drag was an accepted form of

don't remember the name of the bar on Miami Beach that was off LIncoln
Road on Alton Road that in the early 1960s did drag revues and a few
blocks south was the famous Jewel Box Revue that traveled all over the
USA and would be nodded to by the character Paul in "A Chorus Line" in

being drag in New York and Florida really didn't surprise me but I was
surprised to find a drag bar--don't remember the name--in Memphis,
Tennessee, when I moved there in 1969. I, also, remember the high
caliber , finely polished drag show I saw in Sidney, Australia, a few
years later where it was all live music including the singing but that's
another blog.

as a big gay holiday hit home to me when I moved to Fort Lauderdale in
1979 and went to The Sandpiper nightclub that October 31. At that time
we had 4 different gay magazines/bar guides/newspapers and the 'Best
Costume' events were being held in every bar--gay or nongay--but the
biggest awards/ prizes were in the gay bars. That was the night I
thought the whole world was made up of Judy Garland!

posted on Oct 29, 2013 3:52 PM ()


I'm thinking of that Philip Seymour Hoffman movie - Flawless - where he played a drag queen, I enjoyed it.
comment by troutbend on Oct 30, 2013 11:08 AM ()
I'm not a Hoffman fan--barely remember it
reply by greatmartin on Oct 30, 2013 11:45 AM ()
enjoy this story and taking us back what was going on then.
Can wait for part two.Most of ours in early days were held at who ever chose to have the party and this was fine.I dressed up in drag and was so horrible looking that I never went back to it again.Guess,this was not me.So butch am I
comment by fredo on Oct 30, 2013 9:58 AM ()
I never did the drag thing!
reply by greatmartin on Oct 30, 2013 10:39 AM ()
Dressing up is always fun.
comment by elderjane on Oct 30, 2013 4:06 AM ()
In a tux yes--in a gown no
reply by greatmartin on Oct 30, 2013 10:39 AM ()

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