Recollections of a Part-Time Lady by Minette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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An excellent book and an important historical document.
Minette invites you to sit with her as she tells the story of her life. She goes back to a time when “there was no common culture then, no boob tube, so people just knew their own circles.”
She goes so far back, she talks about a queen she met who was performing in 1875. Crazy. I’ve never heard of a record this old before. Minette wrote this at the end of her life in 1979 and she knew old queens back when she was young that span this kind of huge time span.
The book isn’t professionally written and is more of a gossip memoir style, but it really adds to the feeling you’ve been invited into her home to hear her story.
She talks of the 1930’s where drag was illegal and a queen “had a special way with paper tits so that if the cops walked by she could crush them just like that.”
She talks of when the Puerto Rican queens moved in to town and: “When a queen would ask for $5, one of the Puerto Rican queens would raise a hand behind her , and someone else would make a lower offer behind her. In a fortnight, business was shot to hell. They should have had a hay hookers’ union.”
Minette has the wit of a consummate performer. Of her rent controlled flat: “It’s hard to beat a five-room flat for $32, even if the walls are Niagara when it rains.” ($100 in today’s money! In NYC!) She talks of a time when the customers were the “mark” and the object was to offload their money, similar to carny folk.
I loved this too brief chronicle. The book was self-published and has many mimeographed photos that don’t always reproduce well.
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