Female impersonation and the history of drag is said to have entwined with the gay culture around the 1930s. When the United States entered the Prohibition era, which abolished alcohol production and consumption from 1920 until 1933, gay men used the underground clubs and speakeasies as an opportunity to express, enjoy themselves and participate in silent protest over societal oppression and laws that penalized gay activity. Drag performers were known to push the boundaries of what society rebelled against with biting humor and sarcasm during stand-up performances. They were also at the forefront of the famous riots at the Stonewall Bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village during which they battled with police for nearly a week. Those riots ignited massive change in the way LGBTQ people were treated in America.
Offering a fine 1988 three-piece assemblage from JIM BAILEY, one of America’s most notable female impersonators and actors, including an 8 x 10 black and white inscribed photograph of Bailey along with a single-page ALS, 7 1/4 x 10, to David from the staff of the Embassy Suites Hotel, dated January 4, 1988. “Just a note to tell you how great it is to work for you. Everyone connected with the theater has been so cooperative & helpful. It has not gone unnoticed.
“And thank you for the two bottles of Dom on New Year’s Eve. How generous of you. You are a classy guy and when you come to L.A., I shall return your hospitality...”
The third item is a 4 1/4 x 11-inch flyer advertising Bailey’s performance at the West End Cabaret [Dallas, Tx], noting that the show was “Held Over! Jim Bailey is Judy Garland in concert” Bailey has written his name and address on the verso.
BAILEY’s talent was celebrated by a massive resume of performances. In addition to Garland, who mentored him, Bailey also impersonated Barbara Streisand, Phyllis Diller, Peggy Lee and many others. He headlined at Las Vegas hotels, The thunderbird, Caesars Palace, The Desert Inn, The Sands, Harrah’s, The Dunes. He also performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, The Palladium Theater in London, for the British Royal Family and for four United States presidents. He was a guest star on The Carol Burnett Show and made several appearances on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show. From 1966 through 1968, Bailey played summer stock in such shows as The Boy Friend, Calamity Jane with Ginger Rogers, Bells are Ringing and Wildcat with Gale Storm. Lucille Ball approached him in 1972 after she saw his performance and asked him to guest star in her popular show Here’s Lucy. Ball was so impressed with his performance that she titled the show Lucy and Jim Bailey and threw a party for him after the show’s taping.
The letter has some toning around the top edge. The glossy black and white photograph is in excellent condition with a couple of folds. The West End Cabaret flyer has several folds. Overall a great assemblage representing an important example of talent.
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