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Talking to Viki St. John about the 1960s Part 6
by Sukie de la Croix

Lincoln Baths ...

"It was in a basement, if you go over there, there's a hotel where Clark and Lincoln and Wells come together, and it's called the Lincoln Hotel. On the south end of it, on the street level there's the door to the Baths, and for years it's been covered with white glass wax.

"I had a dentist who had offices at 102 E. Chestnut, which I think is the Knickerbocker Hotel now. His name was Jerry C______ . At the time they were making raids on the Lincoln Baths, they would give the names over the radio. The night of the 21 E. Goethe raid all night long they were reading the names of the people in the raid. When they raided Louis Gages they printed the names and addresses of those people in the newspaper the next day. A lot of people disappeared. They couldn't face their family. Anyhow, they raided the Lincoln Baths, and the first name in the paper the next day was Jerry C_______ and they didn't give his home address, they gave his office address.

"So we called him up and said, 'Jerry, what are you going to do?' He said, 'First of all I was in a room by myself, I wasn't doing anything.' And he said, 'Because my last name starts with a C I'm first on the list and because they didn't print my home address and printed my business address, they're trying to ruin my business. I'm in the Gold Coast, so my customers really don't care, they're educated, and half of my customers are gay so they don't care. But I'm going to sue.'

"He sued the city, he sued the police department for releasing the names, he sued the papers for printing them, under the assumption that they tried and convicted him before he went to court. Of course, he won! After that they never released the names again. Here you have a prominent dentist with offices right off Michigan Avenue on Chestnut. Very swanky and upscale and they did that to him."

Gayle Sherman ...

"Gayle Sherman was stunning! She used to charge $100 just to go on a date. The Blue Dahlia was a straight club and they got a lot of guys in there from out of town, and if they needed a sharp woman to go on a date with them, for a business dinner, they would hire Gayle. She would charge $100 and it was nothing more than you take me for dinner.

"Well, she couldn't have a bank account, and she went to Marshall Fields and she bought all this furniture to refurnish the apartment. So the cashier said to her, 'Will this be cash or charge?' Gayle said, 'This is going to be cash, honey.' She pulled out a roll of bills that could choke a horse and they were all $100s. She took the rubber band off and started peeling off $2,400.

"She had a bedroom that looked like a whorehouse. Her dining room was her bedroom and she had swing doors into it from the living room. The carpet was fire-engine red, she had red velvet drapes on all the walls. You went to the kitchen, you parted the drapes and went through. In the middle of the room was a crystal chandelier hanging over a king-size bed with a red velvet bedspread with throw pillows that were red velvet and white velvet. Then on the floor at the foot of the bed were more pillows and a little white teddy bear.

"She couldn't have a bank account because the money was never taxed. Gayle started taking the hormone shots to develop her bust and hips because she was a stripper. His name was Gary Sherman. His parents didn't know what the hell was going on, they lived over on the Drive. Anyhow, Gayle took too many shots. It got to the point where she was sick all the time. A stripper does three records and she could only do one, and only do one show a night. The doctor said to her, 'The female hormones are fighting the male hormones in your body and the male hormones are losing. You're no longer producing them. You have six months to go have the surgery done.' So she went and had the surgery done and when she came back she could no longer work as a drag queen, because she was now female."

Confidential magazine ...

"I was working at O'Hare airport at the ticket counter, and in walks Gayle right up to me with a ticket. She was flying to Hawaii. There was an article in Confidential magazine about three years after she went to Hawaii. She called herself Brandy Alexander 'The Great 48.' She was a stripper and she had wound up with a 48" bust from the implants. She was doing a survey of her fans to see if she should have her breasts made smaller.

"Now there was a girl working at the Chesterfield for a while and he had been living with Raymond Burr in Hollywood. This was in the '60s. Reynolds was the name of the drag queen. Anyway, he was living with Burr for two years and all of a sudden Confidential magazine got wind of it. Reynolds was living in drag. They published it and they went to Raymond Burr, and he said, 'I didn't know that was a guy.' He'd been living and sleeping with him for two years.

"Anyhow, Libby Reynolds came to Chicago and he worked at the Chesterfield, where they introduced him as 'Confidentially Yours, Libby Reynolds.' Again, I'm very naive, I was brought up in the suburbs, and I said, 'Why are they introducing him like that?' And they said, 'Oh you haven't heard?' That's when they told me about it. You never heard too much about Raymond Burr after that."

Future historians take note: The memory section in this column contains just that -—memories—and are only to be used as a starting point for your research. Send your stories to Sukie de la Croix at WCT. He also interviews over the phone or by e-mail

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