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<Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag>

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Herndon, James "Sweet Evening Breeze"
Birth Year : 1892
Death Year : 1983
James Herndon, also known as "Sweet Evening Breeze," "Sweets," or "Breeze," is considered by some to be the originator of the Lexington drag scene, dressing in women's clothes in the 1940s and 50s when cross-dressing in public was very rare. He was generally well liked in the Lexington community and would participate in random acts of kindness, like baking cakes for people or giving poorer families shoes. Originally from Scott County, Herndon moved to Lexington as a child and then was abandoned at Good Samaritan Hospital by his uncle after he suffered an eye injury. After growing up in the hospital, he worked as an orderly for over forty years. He went to church regularly and loved church music. He enjoyed playing the piano, dressing up in women's clothes and makeup, and entertaining at his house on Prall Street, which he shared with his uncle Andrew Smith in 1920, according to the U.S. Federal Census. The last years of his life were spent at Homestead Nursing Center, and he is buried at Lexington Cemetery. James Herndon will be discussed in the documentary The Last of the Pagan Babies, a work-in-progress by Jean Donohue. For more see the 6 articles from 1983-2009 in the Lexington Herald-Leader and the 2001 thesis Hidden histories, proud communities: multiple narratives in the queer geographies of Lexington, Kentucky, 1930-1999 by Jeffrey Alan Jones. This entry was submitted by Marcia Rapchak.

 

 
Subjects: Hospitals and Clinics: Employment, Founders, Ownership, Incidents, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Scott County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Hicks, Lucy L. [Tobias Lawson]
Birth Year : 1886
Death Year : 1954
Lucy Hicks said she was from Kentucky when she arrived in California around 1915. The six foot tall cook was also a madam; for 30 years she ran the only house of prostitution in Oxnard, California. She was also a philanthropist, giving generously to charity organizations such as the Boy Scouts and the Red Cross, as well as purchasing war bonds. As World War II was coming to an end in August 1945, an outbreak of venereal disease was said to have come from Hicks' establishment; Lucy and all of her employees had to be examined by the doctor. During Hicks' examination, it was discovered that Hicks was a biological male. Hicks had married twice, the second time in 1945, and was therefore charged with perjury, then jailed, tried, sentenced to prison, and kicked out of the city of Oxnard. Lucy Hicks' story was first published in a Pacific Coast newspaper, then updated and published in Time, after which Lucy Hicks was voted Time's Man of the Year. After the story ran, Hicks was wanted by the U.S. Army as a draft dodger. Lucy Hicks was born Tobias Lawson in Waddy, KY, and died in Los Angeles. Hicks was the child of Bill (b.1849 in KY) and Nancy Lawson (b.1851 in KY), and according to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, the Lawsons worked for the George Waddy family. Nancy and Tobias, the youngest child, were still working for the Waddy family when the 1900 Census was taken. For a more complete history of Hicks' life see the Lucy Hicks Anderson entry at the BlackPast.org website; see "Sin & Souffle," Time, 11/05/1945, p. 24 [available online]; and Oxnard, 1941-2004, by J. W. Maulhardt [pictures of Lucy Hicks on p. 89].


Subjects: Businesses, Migration West, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Waddy, Shelby County, Kentucky / Oxnard and Los Angeles, California

McIntosh, Tom
Birth Year : 1840
Death Year : 1904
McIntosh, born in Lexington, KY, was a comedian who had his greatest success with Callender's Georgia Minstrels. In addition to his great comedic talent, McIntosh was also an exhibition drummer and singer. During his career, he teamed with female impersonator Willis Ganze, performing on some of the leading circuits in the U.S. He then teamed with his wife, Hattie McIntosh, for a short period. McIntosh later took the starring role of Mr. Bullion in "Southern Enchantment" with the Smart Set Company; he replaced Kentucky native Ernest Hogan [Reuben Crowders]. McIntosh died of a stroke while the Smart Set Company was en route to Indianapolis. For more see his career review by Sylvester Russell, "Tribute to Tom M'Intosh," Indianapolis Freeman, 04/09/1904, p. 5; and Profiles of African American Stage Performers and Theatre People, 1816-1960, by B. L. Peterson, Jr.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Tribble, Andrew
Birth Year : 1879
Death Year : 1935
Andrew Tribble was born in Richmond, KY, where he also attended school. Andrew and Amos Tribble were the sons of Alice Tribble, and they were all boarding with a family in Union (Madison County) in 1880, according to the U.S. Federal Census. Andrew Tribble is noted as one of the greatest female impersonators in theater, with a career that spanned 40 years. As a child he was a member of the pickaninny band In Old Kentucky. He later moved to Chicago and joined the Pekin Theatre. One night he dressed in drag and did a performance that the audience loved. He was cast in Cole and Johnsons' musical Shoo-Fly Regiment. His most popular character was Lilly White, a washerwoman. For more see A History of African American Theatre, by E. Hilland; and African American Performance and Theater History: a critical reader, ed. by H. J. Elam, Jr. and D. Krasner.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Richmond and Union, Madison County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Whitman, Albery A.
Birth Year : 1851
Death Year : 1901
Albery Allson Whitman was born into slavery in Hart County, KY, on the Green River Plantation. Albery was the husband of Caddie Whitman (1857-1909), who was also from Kentucky. Albery was a poet and a Bishop of the Methodist Church. He was a graduate of Wilberforce College [now Wilberforce University] and served as Dean of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. His published works include "Leelah Misled" in 1873, "Not a Man and Yet a Man" in 1877, and "The Rape of Florida" in 1884. His last work was published in 1901: "An Idyll of the South." His talent as a Negro poet has been described as between Phillis Wheatley and Paul L. Dunbar. Albery A. Whitman was also the father of musician Caswell W. Whitman (1875-1936) and the Whitman Sisters, one of the most successful vaudeville troupes in the U.S. Albery taught his older daughters to dance when they were children, and for a brief period they were manged by their mother, Caddie. The Whitman troupe first toured Kentucky in 1904. The Whitman Sisters were Mabel (1880-1962), Essie B. (1882-1963), Alberta (1887-1964), and Alice (1900-1969). Mabel directed the shows, Essie was a comic singer, Alberta was a flash dancer and did male drag, and Alice was an exceptional tap dancer. For more on Albery A. Whitman see Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan and M. R. Winston; and Albery Allson Whitman (1851-1901), epic poet of African American and Native American self-determination (thesis), by J. R. Hays. For more about the Whitman Sisters see The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville by N. George-Graves; and Jazz Dance, by M. W. Stearns and J. Stearns. For more on Caswell Woodfin Whitman see the following Chicago Defender articles - "The Whitman Sister's kin passes away," 04/04/1936, pp.1 & 10; "Allen Bowers Entertains," 03/06/1932, p.7; and "The Whitmans arrive," 03/16/1918, p.6 - [article citations provided by the Curator of the Chicago Jazz Archive at the University of Chicago].
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Religion & Church Work, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Hart County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

 

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