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THE QUEEN IS DEAD - [BUT DON'T TELL THE PEASANTS]

by Carolina Saturday, Mar. 08, 2003 at 5:30 PM
pinedaart@hotmail.com

Transgenders: Queen Mary Show Lounge, Studio City, closed February 23, without notice to patrons or employees after more than 40 years of hosting the TG community.

Imagine the reaction of the African American community if the "Apollo" theater in Harlem were to shutter without notice after decades as a cultural center for blacks? Or the " la communidad Latino" if Spanish radio & TV suddenly went English only?

That's about how numbing and angering the unannounced closure of Queen Mary Show Lounge on February 23 was to transgender patrons, and employee's, many whom have patronized and worked at the Studio City club for decades.

Saturday night February 22 seemed typical enough as the large crowd of trannies drank, conversed & danced at the back bar or commingled with straight "tourists" in the front show lounge. Female impersonators, such as Dani Kane, Simonne, Dolly, Maximilliana, Monica, Butch and Ricco, many who had worked for over a decade, entertained on stage. Bartenders like Laurie and Julia knew many patrons so well that they could serve their favorite drink without asking, in contrast to the owners, whom usually remained aloof.

This weekend 'spot' had long ago become much more than just a nightclub. It served for the transgender community as a social epicenter, in much the same way that churches or barber and beauty salons serve black and other communities of color. Regulars kept current on "t" [gossip]. New people could become familiar with and integrated into the scene comfortably and quickly. Out-of-towners could meet the locals easily, and prodigal sisters who had been away for a while could re-unite and belong. Celebrities and media often watched the show and commingled in the back bar.

[In fact, the LA Times ran a review of the club, published on February 27, unaware it was by that time closed forever.]

Few, if any, of the die hard customers and loyal employees left at the Saturday night 2 am closing suspected, as they headed to their cars in the cold night air, that this would be their last time there. So there were no hugs or tears. Everyone expected they'd see each other again next weekend.

After all, Queen Mary was the rock on which a constantly growing and changing Southern California community of trans folk, estimated as one of the world's largest, anchored itself. Other, more wild and street-wise Hollywood clubs might be intermittently closed. [Rival Club 7969 in West Hollywood had been shut down twice since 2000, once because of fire, and last year due to a code violation dispute with the city].

"The Queen", on the other hand, like one's own mother, was considered always there. Maybe not as exciting or trendy, but always open to trannys and their friends, even most weeknights. Trannys thought of it as a place to celebrate triumphs, start new relationships, or to find comfort in hard times.

Located on the upscale "strip" of stores and restaurants along the San Fernando Valley's famed Ventura Boulevard, it provided a more sedate and elegant setting than the fast life of Hollywood. After more than 40 years as the venerable nightspot for the community, it had attracted trans friendly shops and restaurants nearby. These satellites businesses are now left adrift by the sudden demise of the mother ship. "QM" was the establishment, a stable oasis for a tempestuous sub-culture.

Many had heard through the 'grapevine' that the club was up for sale. That was not too surprising since the long-term manager/owner Robert's stroke in 2000 had left son Bobby in charge. The latter never seemed quite comfortable or competent in running the family business that his grandmother had opened in 1958, and his father had run for as long as most patrons and staff could remember.

The transgender community could understand if the owners no longer wanted to run the club, even though it consistently drew a full house, at least on Saturdays.

Most customers would have thought, however, after decades of spending their money in this family business, that they would have merited at least a farewell, if not a "thank you", and a chance to bid adieu to the talent and staff.

Apparently, however, transgender patrons and servants, no matter how long term, once their money been collected and services rendered, are regarded as no better than the trash to be discarded at closing.

Patrons and staff were sent home Sunday night with no notice. The employees received calls Monday [when the club was usually closed] informing them to pick up their last checks. Apparently the building is to be remodeled for a restaurant.

Hopefully the management remembered to turn out the lights, and the door didn't hit their ass on the way out.




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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 9 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Missing Info? Alexander "The Great" Sunday, Mar. 09, 2003 at 4:37 PM
the irresponsible departure Allenina Sunday, Mar. 09, 2003 at 9:02 PM
The Oldest Drag Queen in Captivity Butch Ellis Sunday, Aug. 03, 2003 at 2:13 AM
What a bummer. tedthebear Sunday, Aug. 03, 2003 at 4:21 AM
Dear Butch & All the Other Fabulous World-Class Entertainers of the Queen Mary Lyz Monday, Sep. 22, 2003 at 7:08 AM
unforgettable paul s Saturday, Apr. 21, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Rare QM image Annie Smith Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 at 2:17 PM

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