Alley Cat Drag Show collection (Invisible Histories Project)
Scope and Contents
The guide to the Alley Cat Drag Show Collection includes event photographs, photographs of flyers (not the originals), and an event show poster depicting performers in drag revues at the Alley Cat Restaurant and Bar in Carrollton, Georgia. The files are arranged alphabetically and date from 2016 to 2021.
Conditions Governing Access
Open to all users; no restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Rights transferred to University of West Georgia.
Biographical / Historical
The Alley Cat Drag Show collection contains event photographs, photographs of flyers (not the original flyers themselves), and event show posters depicting the performance of "drag," the act of dressing or acting in a manner outside of what is presumed or prescribed for a particular gender. The drag performances depicted within the collection are taken from 2016-2021 sponsored events at the Alley Cat, a bar and restaurant in Carrollton, Georgia.
The origin of the term "drag" is heavily debated, but is thought to have originated from the practice of nineteenth century men dressing in the style of Victorian women. The heavy skirts of the period would trail or "drag" across the floor.
The practice of cross dressing has roots in Ancient Greek theatre as women were not allowed to participate in dramatic productions. Men would play the roles of women in theatrical productions. This practice would continue through the sixteenth century as young boys would play the roles of women in Shakespearean theatre. Barring women from theatrical arts was not purely a western practice, as "Kabuki," traditional Japanese theatre also banned women from performances in the seventeenth century, consigning Japanese men to the roles and dress of female characters.
At the turn of the twentieth century in the United States, women would begin to find roles on the Vaudevillian stage. Women were typically cast in supporting comedic roles, ironically dressing and playing as male characters. As Vaudeville gave way to the Broadway stage and Hollywood films, women would find acceptance in traditional theatre and the mainstream.
The tradition of men dressing as women in theatrical and movie production would continue, but the context for mainstream America would begin to change. Men would no longer simply dress as a woman to fill a female role or serve as a comedic plot device. Instead, they chose to take on a female persona and dress as an expression of art.
In 1904, Julian Eltinge would star as a woman in the Broadway comedy, Mr. Wix of Wickham, and would later transition to starring in silent films of the era while performing in full drag. Eltinge's performances garnered so much audience praise that Eltinge would be invited to perform for King Edward the VII in 1906 and star in silent films in 1914.
Drag performances would continue in the mainstream until the Hays Code, a set of moral guidelines and censorship, was enforced for all films produced from 1934-1968, banning the tradition of both women and men from playing roles of an opposite gender. The state of New York would ban female impersonation for men in 1935, citing the performances as illicit in sexual nature. Cross dressing for actors would continue albeit in sporadic roles calling for a comedic disguise or plot device.
The first successful gender reassignment surgery for an American would occur in 1952 as George William Jorgensen, a man born in the Bronx, New York, would live the rest of her life as Christine Jorgensen through surgery and hormone therapy. Strict moral and cultural norms would begin to erode both in Hollywood and mainstream society through the 1960's and 1970's as cross dressing continued as an art form in Europe. In 1982, the movie, "Tootsie," with Dustin Hoffman playing the lead, would be nominated for ten Academy Awards and fully reintroduce the practice of female impersonation into the mainstream.
The performances depicted within the Alley Cat Drag collection echo the traditions of both mainstream and niche performances of cross-dressing or drag for both men and women. The theme of these performances is a challenge to the traditional social construct of gender for men and women. To echo the words of RuPaul, the most prominent and successful female impersonator in modern times, "We are all born naked, and the rest is drag."
0.74 Linear Feet (1 box, 1 map folder)
The Alley Cat Drag Show collection contains event photographs, photographs of flyers (not the originals), and an event show poster depicting the performance of "drag," the act of dressing or acting in a manner outside of what is presumed or prescribed for a particular gender. The drag performances depicted within this collection pertain to sponsored events from 2016 to 2021 at the Alley Cat, a restaurant and bar in Carrollton, Georgia.
Arranged by format.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by the Alley Cat Restaurant and Bar, Dylan Pendrak, Theresa Rochowski, and Thalia Young to the Invisible Histories Project in June 2021. This collection was then transferred by the Project through UWG professor Dr. Stephanie Chalifoux to Ingram Library's Special Collections in August 2023.
The Alley Cat Drag Show collection was acquired and processed by University of West Georgia (UWG) students as part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant awarded to the Invisible Histories Project (IHP) in which UWG was a sub awardee. IHP, based in Birmingham, Alabama, locates, preserves, researches, and creates for local communities an accessible collection of the rich and diverse history of LGBTQ life in the U.S. South. Joshua Burford and Maigen Sullivan founded and launched IHP in February 2018. UWG partnered with IHP on the Mellon grant in March 2020.
- Guide to the Alley Cat Drag Show Collection (Invisible Histories Project)
- Original finding aid created in June 2021 for Dr. Stephanie Chalifoux's History 6687 class by Sarah Craig, Dr. Stephanie Chalifoux , and Sarah I. Rodriguez. Finding aid edited by Jason Gaddy in August 2023.
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