GLR September-October 2022

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September–October 2022

Queens and Kings

A NDREW H OLLERAN Truman Capote and His Swans W ILLIAM B ENEMANN Genderfluid Master of the Bizarre L AURENCE S ENELICK The Cutting Edge of Weimar Berlin

F INN B ALLARD The House that Hirschfeld Built

I RENE J AVORS How Garbo Complicated Queen Christina

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Truman Capote

We’re stronger when we work together. And so are you. Uniting the wisdom, skills, and innovations of both Columbia and Weill Cornell Medicine for our patients. In medicine, the more experience the better. At NewYork-Presbyterian, cardiothoracic surgeons Dr. Takayama and Dr. Iannacone show what can happen when two top-tier medical schools collaborate. Together, they raise the level of care for New York—and the nation.

The Gay & Lesbian Review September–October 2022 • VOLUME XXIX, NUMBER 5 WORLDWIDE

Editor-in-Chief and Founder R ICHARD S CHNEIDER J R . ____________________________________ WORLDWIDE The Gay & Lesbian Review ® PO Box 180300, Boston, MA 02118


Queens and Kings



Genderfluid Master of the Bizarre 10 W ILLIAM B ENEMANN

In 1798, Congressman John Randolph went to Washington

From Camp Performer to Camp Inmate 13 L AURENCE S ENELICK

Paul O’Montis headlined a racy cabaret act in Weimar Berlin

The House that Hirschfeld Built 17 F INN B ALLARD

His Institute of Sexual Science pioneered sex and gender research

Truman and His Swans 21 A NDREW H OLLERAN

Capote’s bond with glamorous women belongs to a bygone age

A Painter of Multitudes 24 A LLEN E LLENZWEIG

Florine Stettheimer’s busy scenes played with gender conventions

Cruising As an Institution 28 F ELICE P ICANO

A gay male pastime in theory (queer) and practice (Fire Island)


Matthew Aucoin — The Impossible Art: Adventures in Opera 31 P HILIP G AMBONE Matthew Sturgis — Oscar Wilde: A Life 32 A NDREW L EAR Nicholas Frankel — The Invention of Oscar Wilde Andrew Holleran — The Kingdom of Sand 34 D ENNIS A LTMAN Tison Pugh — On the Queerness of Early English Drama 35 N ILS C LAUSSON John D’Emilio — Memories of a Gay Catholic Boyhood 36 D ANIEL A. B URR Carla Guelfenbein — One in Me I Never Loved: A Novel 37 A NNE C HARLES B RIEFS 38 Neil Bartlett — Address Book 40 M ICHAEL S CHWARTZ Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller — Bad Gays: A Homosexual History 42 M ATTHEW H AYS Casey Parks — Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery 42 T ERRI S CHLICHENMEYER Douglas Stuart — Young Mungo 43 T HOMAS K EITH Jeremy Denk — Every Good Boy Does Fine 44 C HARLES G REEN From Around the World, Four Films 47 R ICHARD S CHNEIDER J R . Andrew Ahn, director — Fire Island 50 C OLIN C ARMAN

F ELICE P ICANO J AMES P OLCHIN J EAN R OBERTA V ERNON R OSARIO Contributing Artist C HARLES H EFLING Publisher S TEPHEN H EMRICK Webmaster B OSTON W EB G ROUP Web Editor K ELSEY M YERS ____________________________________ Board of Directors








A RT M EMO — How Garbo Complicated Queen Christina 16 I RENE J AVORS P OEM — “That night” 32 C RAIG C OTTER P OEM — “Inventory” 44 W ES H ARTLEY C ULTURAL C ALENDAR 45 A RTIST ’ S P ROFILE — Angelo Madsen Minax’ Surreal Documentaries 46 J OHN R. K ILLACKY P OEM — “Do Not Go In” 49 K ATIE H ENSON

The Gay & Lesbian Review/ WORLDWIDE ® (formerly The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, 1994-1999) is published bimonthly (six times per year) by The Gay & Lesbian Review, Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational corporation located in Boston, Mass. Subscriptions: Call 844-752-7829. Rates : U.S.: $35.70 per year (6 issues). Canada and Mexico: $45.70(US). All other countries: $55.70(US). All non-U.S. copies are sent via air mail. Back issues available for $12 each. All correspondence is sent in a plain envelope marked “G&LR.” © 2022 by The Gay & Lesbian Review, Inc. All rights reserved. W EBSITE : • S UBSCRIPTIONS : 847-504-8893 • A DVERTISING : 617-421-0082 • S UBMISSIONS :

September–October 2022


Autumn Comes: ‘Queens and Kings’ FROM THE EDITOR

T HE THEME of this issue comes with a caveat. I think it’s still okay to refer to a certain kind of gay male as a “queen,” while the term “drag king” appears to be gain ing ground. In any case, what these articles share is a focus on historical figures who made a career out of flouting the pre vailing gender norms—and becoming famous doing so. This may also be a time when the word “queer” can be of use. Someone like John Randolph (1773–1833), a U.S. Con gressman from Virginia for whom the term “flamboyant” was invented, was undoubtedly queer in the old sense of peculiar , regardless of what he did in bed. At any rate, as described here by William Benemann, he sure wasn’t “straight” by any defi nition. And while his strangeness was widely commented upon, he kept getting re-elected and became a leader in Congress. Randolph lived at a time when the vocabulary simply did n’t exist to discuss such matters. That would change later in the 19th century thanks to a cadre of German psychologists, cul minating in the work of Magnus Hirschfeld. As Finn Ballard explains here, Hirschfeld’s greatest achievement was founding the Institute of Sexual Science, in Berlin, in 1919. This was a time when homosexuality was understood as a form of gender “inversion,” and while Hirschfeld did much to separate sexual orientation from gender, he regarded some cases as “interme diate sexual types” and recommended gender reassignment, in cluding surgery, for these individuals. Correspondence

Weimar Berlin also produced an exuberant cabaret culture, notably a singer named Paul O’Montis, who was a sensation of both the stage and the silent screen. His personal style, as re flected in caricatures of the day, would seem to justify the “queen” epithet, but Laurence Senelick is mostly struck by the campy lyrics of his songs, which are filled with racy double en tendres and make sly references to same-sex cruising and gen der-bending people on the town. Another star of silent movies, as well as the talkies, was Greta Garbo, who could be called a “drag king” in that she wore men’s clothing in a number of her films. In Queen Christina , as Irene Javors elaborates, the surface plot is conventional—a queen looking for a suitable consort—yet Garbo spends most of the film in masculine garb strutting across the screen, swilling beer, and flirting with other women. At last we come to Truman Capote, whose most famous books— Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood —aren’t espe cially gay in content. It was his ubiquitous presence on TV talk shows that brought a truly queer persona intoAmerica’s homes. Andrew Holleran discusses how Capote parlayed his fame into the life of a socialite, partying with NewYork’s society ladies— his “swans”—who seem to have kept him around mostly as a conversation piece. He got his revenge, kind of, with the posthu mous publication of his tell-all novel Answered Prayers . R ICHARD S CHNEIDER J R .

archy—and if we can’t remember, then invent . One other thing: Rosario states that the Two Spirit We’wha “convinced” Grover Cleveland to replace a Mexican Indian agent at Zuni. There was never a Mexican Indian agent at Zuni, and We’wha only spoke rudimentary English. According to a newspaper account, “Her [ sic ] conversa tion with the President was mainly in monosyllables, but Mrs. Stevenson [We’wha’s host] and the President had quite an interesting talk.” One of the best antidotes to the romanticization, I should think, is attention to detail. Will Roscoe, San Francisco When Sailors Were Polled To the Editor: Browsing through the July-August issue of the G&LR on “The Lure of the Sea” with its range of engaging articles, I was drawn to my copy of a work by Steven Zeeland, Sailors and Sexual Identity . Working on the book in the 1990s, the au thor met with over 200 sailors and Marines, mostly in southern California

around the naval bases in San Diego. Con ducting taped interviews with thirty, he winnowed them down to thirteen who spoke candidly about their sexual experiences. Not surprisingly, Zeeland found that men from both branches—mostly young recruits—were “sexually adventuresome, making it hard to distinguish between straights and gays.” Profiles of these men include mischievous distinctions. Marines were characterized as tougher, more com pactly built, often “bottoms,” with sharper haircuts, while sailors were seen as softer, more respected at the “top” of the chain— they were the majority of those the author interviewed. U.S. naval initiation rituals, and those performed when crossing the Equator, fea tured cross-dressing, spanking, simulated oral and anal sex, or penetration with vari ous objects. While U.S. military service policies have been tightened to preclude many of these activities today, some such behavior still exists. Zeeland’s subjects varied in how much they wanted to reveal, protecting their

Mythical Sources of the Radical Faeries To the Editor: Did Harry Hay romanticize and appro priate Native culture and spirituality when he helped start the Radical Faeries, as sug gested in Vernon Rosario’s review of Gre gory Smithers’ Reclaiming Two-Spirits in the July-August 2022 issue? He certainly did consider nonbinary Native Americans remarkable examples of how queer people could make valuable contributions to their communities when they were allowed to live authentic lives. A vibrant movement of Two Spirit people today clearly agrees with him. But in my years of observation, I never heard Harry propose that the Faeries adopt a practice because it was “Native American.” I’ve reached out to other old Faeries who were present at the first gatherings, and they agree. Harry looked to Western tradi tions and folklore—to faeries , in fact, who were pre-Christian figures in Old Europe. His exhortation (paraphrasing Monique Wittig) was that we must re member who we were before patri

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New from Duke University Press

s o ng of A Memories of a Gay Catholic Boyhood Comi ge in the Sixties JOHN D’EMILIO A Kiss across the Ocean ansatlantic Intimacie f British Post-Punk and US Latinidad RICHARD T. RODRÍGUEZ The Intersex Issue MICHELLE WOLFF, DAVID A. RUBIN, SQ: T e o and AMANDA LOCK SWARR, issue editors An issu f T ransgender Studies Quarterl ( 9 : 2 ) Cistem Failure Ess ys on Blackness and Ci gender MARQUIS BEY asterisk Feels Right Black Que omen and the Politi f Partyi g in Chic go KEMI ADEYEMI Tr a n cs o er W s a y

or orm TYLER BRADW Y and ELIZABETH FREEMAN, editors Th e y Q A n ng, F Queer Kinship Race, Sex, Belo gi

em r r Disability Dramaturgies MADELINE CHARNE and TOM SELLAR, issue editors An issu f Th eater ( 52 : 2 ) We Are Having This Conversation Now Th ime f aids Cultu a Production ALEXANDRA JUHASZ and THEODORE KERR Dragging way Queer Abst action in Cont po a y Art LEX MORGAN LANCASTER r A r l s o e T e o

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service status. But they ended up describ ing a variety of sexual activities, ranging from anonymous sex at sea, drunken sex while in port, and group masturbation, as well as officer-enlisted, military-civilian, romantic, and long-term love affairs. Many reported that they joined the mili tary to bolster their sense of manhood; some were heterosexually married. A number saw such behavior as part of bonding with their brothers while at sea and on leave. For others it was simply about young men being sexually alive— all part of their military service. Joe Ryan, Colchester, VT Melville and the American Renaissance To the Editor: Great issue [July-August 2022], com plete with Billy Budd on the cover and much about Melville inside the magazine. However, there was one striking omission in the piece by Andrew Holleran about the relationship between F. O. Matthiessen and Russell Cheney as discussed in Scott Bane’s A Union Like Ours . Matthiessen named five writers as the central figures in what he called the “American Renais sance.” Holleran included in his list only Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, and Hawthorne, omitting Herman Melville. Forgive me if this seems a small matter, but I’ve read Moby-Dick six times, ran a graduate seminar based on [Matthiessen’s book] The American Renaissance and an other limited to Melville and Hawthorne, so I’m protective of Uncle Herman. What’s more, Matthiessen’s assessment of Melville in his magnum opus places him in the top tier of writers in the English language. Elliott Mackle, Atlanta Masculinity Not the Culprit Here To the Editor: I want to thank Daniel Burr for his as tute comment (in “Climbers and Creepers of the High Chaparral,” May-June 2022 issue) regarding the phrase “toxic mas culinity.” Indeed it does not have any spe cific meaning, and as such is a typical “snarl word,” separating people simplisti cally into guilty and innocent. Annie Proulx has a brilliant analysis of the fear of homosexuality in Nevadan cul ture, which was her motive for writing Brokeback Mountain . Ennis feared in volvement, as did Phil [Benedict Cumber batch’s character] in The Power of the Dog . Both Thomas Savage and Proulx re veal a tragedy of complex interaction be tween a subculture’s world view and repressed desire. To stigmatize masculin ity as the cause of such fear is what

Proulx did not want to convey. (See Proulx’s essay “Getting Movied,” in Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screen play (Scribner’s, 2005). Jay Gertzman, Edgewater, NJ Stein Not a ‘Shakespeare’ Habitué To the Editor: Regarding the review of The Paris Bookseller in the May-June 2022 issue: it is a novel, so perhaps author Kerri Maher felt free to take a certain license in pre senting Sylvia Beach’s relations with the great literary figures who crossed the threshold of Shakespeare & Company. Not having read her book, I assume that your reviewer, Charles Green, has correctly characterized Beach’s relations with Gertrude Stein in the way Maher intended. My own interest regarding Sylvia Beach and Gertrude Stein emerges from the re search I did for my recently published bi ography George Platt Lynes: The Daring Eye . The young Lynes lived in Paris in 1925-26 and was inspired by Beach’s bookstore. He also became a frequent visi tor to the Gertrude Stein-Alice B. Toklas salon. What I wish to point out is that scholar ship on 1920’s Paris and on Gertrude Stein in particular paints a portrait some what at odds with the novel’s use of Stein as “a sustained presence” among the LGBT “figures who were habitués of the bookstore.” According to James Mellow’s Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein & Com pany , Stein “became the first annual sub scriber to Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare &

Company” in 1920. But while things began “cordially,” according to Mellow, Beach herself claimed that relations be tween the two women “cooled consider ably” after Shakespeare & Company published James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922. Their estrangement is suggested in the novel when Maher has Stein “disparaging Joyce” as “that Irishman” and “staying away from the bookstore whenever Beach is working on Ulysses ” (in Green’s words). But more damning is that following Shakespeare & Company’s publication of Ulysses , Stein visited the shop to tell Beach, per Mellow, that “she would now be subscribing to the American Library, on the Right Bank.” Stein saw herself as the leading Modernist among English writers in Paris, and Beach’s support for Joyce was taken as disloyalty. Even more telling is how Sylvia Beach characterized Stein’s pronouncements at her salon, as Mellow tells it: “Gertrude, Sylvia Beach recalled, has ‘so much charm’ that others forgave her the ‘monstrous absurdities’ she some times uttered.” Allen Ellenzweig, New York City Correction As many readers informed us, the July August 2022 issue contained an error in the BTW column concerning soon-to-be ex-Congressman Madison Cawthorn, whose home state was given as Pennsyl vania. In fact, he represents a district in North Carolina (but lost his primary, so

he’ll be gone by next January). * ('&

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bers justify their position, and why don’t their heads explode? The standard line is to maintain that sexual orientation is a per sonal matter that’s irrelevant to one’s professional life or polit ical affiliations or beliefs about the free market. But this raises the question: if being gay is extraneous to one’s larger identity in the world, why join an organization based upon this very trait? Why, indeed, does the LCC exist at all? Perhaps there’s a sense in which the Republican Party’s action was a tacit recog nition of this existential chasm at its core. Shock and Awe A comprehensive report commissioned by the Southern Baptist Convention has been released that spotlights two decades of sexual abuse by clergymen and church officials; and it is devastating. The 300-page report, which documents a pervasive pattern of sexual abuse “at all levels of SBC society,” sent shock waves through the organization. Readers of this col umn may not be so shocked, as we have noted a number of high-profile cases of televangelists and their ilk being exposed as abusers over the years. Our angle is of course the gay one, but most of the abuse in the SBC is of the heterosexual kind, so it differs from the Catholic priest scandal in this respect. We thought we understood the latter—a product of priestly celibacy, the large number of gay men in the priesthood, etc.— but these explanations don’t apply to the SBC. New York Times columnist David Brooks argued reasonably that the low status of women in the SBC is a big factor, but that still doesn’t ex plain the prevalence of abusers specifically among the clergy and church leadership. Well, there are essentially two possibil ities: either the ministry attracts a certain type of man who’s predisposed to abusive behavior, or there’s something about the position that tends to corrupt the person occupying it (while also providing opportunities for finding victims). Either way, the “soul searching” that many SBC leaders have promised seems entirely warranted. HolyWar? An example of the above would be L.A.-based pas tor Jesse Lee Paterson, a radio host and star of the “Manos phere,” where part of his shtick is to issue anti-gay news flashes and rants. It turns out Paterson has been involved in multiple same-sex liaisons over many years, including a ten year relationship with a man who’s come forward and admit ted as much. Paterson also exhibited a pattern of sexually harassing male associates, as several have charged. His stand ing in the Manosphere has collapsed—which doesn’t exactly bring tears to our eyes. One of his favorite sayings was that “Homosexuality is the spirit of the devil.” On one level, this is a garden-variety case of Christian hypocrisy and confirmation of the proposition that the intensity of the homophobia is pro portional to the level of involvement in same-sex activity. But two elements stand out: First is the fact that something called the Manosphere, described as “a loose network of men’s rights activists, incel groups, and similar organizations,” exists. Sec ond, it turns out Paterson was outed by a radical right-wing Catholic site called Church Militant. To be sure, Catholic ani mosity toward Protestants goes back to the Reformation, but this is a highly targeted salvo by a right-wing Catholic group that seems to have it out for a right-wing evangelical group. Does this sort of thing go on a lot?

Flipping Buns Corporate tie-ins for LGBT Pride are a world wide phenomenon, but the themes for these things are starting to get a little... baroque. Take Burger King Austria’s attempt to connect Pride with hamburger buns. Someone in marketing must have noticed that burger buns and gay men have some thing in common: both come in “tops” and “bottoms”—and voilà! Soon they were churning out Whoppers that didn’t have the usual bun configuration but instead either two top or two bottom buns. Everyone was confused. People took to the chat boards to explain patiently that two tops or two bottoms makes no sense: “It doesn’t work that way.” Burger King was a laugh ing stock—though perhaps they should get some credit for get ting people to talk about gay sex. A company spokesperson

explained that the point of the campaign was to show that “We are all the same inside.” (Well, yes: we’re talking about a mass-pro duced, highly standardized product.) The final upshot of the switcheroo was to remind us that the tradi tional Whopper is already a perfect pairing of one top and one bottom.

Fellow vegetarians: Avert your eyes!

What Could GoWrong? Abill that’s working its way through the Ohio legislature will require certain high school and college athletes competing in women’s sports to have their genitals in spected to ensure that they’re not transgender. It’s a problem— a manufactured one in this case—that goes back to the ancient Greeks, where the Olympics were conducted in the nude to prevent anyone of the wrong (non-male) sex from competing. The beauty of the Greek system is that it was a Panopticon in which everyone could see everyone else. The potential for abuse in the clinical privacy of today’s medical chambers, es pecially when underage females are involved, is obvious. One critic observed that a feature of the law is that an inspection is triggered when an athlete’s gender status is challenged, and this could lead to cisgender girls being falsely accused, given that some girls have naturally elevated testosterone levels. But it also seems possible that accusations could be entirely arbi trary or malicious—at which point we’re back at the Salem witch trials, when mere accusations could ruin lives. Cognitive Dissolution In what may be a sign of the times, the Texas Republican Party has officially expelled the Log Cabin Club (LCC) and blocked its members from playing any role at its upcoming convention. The news is hardly shocking to the rest of the LGBT world, which has always marveled at these folks’ ability to reconcile their gayness with membership in a party that wants to erase their existence. So how do LCC mem

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Genderfluid Master of the Bizarre W ILLIAM B ENEMANN

W HEN THE BODY of Rep. John Ran dolph of Virginia was exhumed, they discovered that the roots of a nearby pine tree had pierced his coffin, threaded themselves through his long flowing hair, penetrated his eye sockets and, feeding off his brain, had filled his skull with their white, spidery tendrils. It was a macabre but appropriately sensational discovery for a body that had been the topic of so much gossip and speculation while the man was alive.

in unexpected ways. When in Congress arguing against the es tablishment of a national bank, Randolph rejected the imposi tion of “a master with a quill behind his ear”—a mere bookkeeper or accountant who might direct the nation’s fate. “If I must have a master,” he proclaimed, “let him be one with epaulettes, something that I could fear and respect, something I could look up to.” Later in life, when Andrew Jackson had re placed Thomas Jefferson as his great idol, in an uncharacteris

tically fawning letter Randolph cast Jackson as Alexander the Great and himself as his lover Hephaestion, though he added: “I trust that I am something better than his minion (the nature of their connection, if I forget it not, was Greek love).” Randolph was first elected to the House in 1798, and because of his sharp intellect and unsurpassed oratorical skills he was immediately assigned the powerful position of chairman of the Ways and Means Com mittee, serving also as majority whip, and eventually as majority leader. Still, his an drogynous appearance bewildered his con temporaries. “His whole organization was delicate as a woman’s; nay more delicate,” one observed. “His long straight hair,” an other wrote, “is parted on the top and a por tion hangs down on each side, while the rest is carelessly tied up behind and flows down his back. His voice is shrill and effeminate and occasionally broken by low tones which you hear from dwarfs or deformed people.” Another was pointedly dismissive: “As to Mr. John Randolph you can scarcely form an idea of a human figure whose ap pearance is more contemptible... one would suppose him to be either by nature, or man ual operation fixed for an Italian singer, in deed there are strong suspicions of a physical disability.” At times Randolph was described al most as one of the walking dead. His lips were “the color of indigo” and his com plexion was frequently compared to parch ment, “destitute of any beard, and as smooth as a woman’s.” One observer de scribed his skin as “precisely that of a mummy; withered, saffron, dry, and blood less.” Contemporaries were also unsettled by Randolph’s mesmerizing eyes. His pupils were usually dilated into huge black

Known as John Randolph of Roanoke (appending the name of one of his estates in order to distinguish himself from other relatives of the same name), Randolph was a member of Congress and a fixture in the nation’s capital during the Jeffer son and Madison administrations. Ran dolph was born in 1773 on a plantation named Matoax and later inherited Roanoke, but he spent most of his youth and a good part of his manhood on a third family plantation, aptly named Bizarre, in a family that can best be described as Southern Gothic. Young Jack was a sen sitive and high-strung child. When thwarted, he would work himself into tantrums so violent they caused him to pass out. His father died when he was only two, but he enjoyed an idyllic child hood of comfort and privilege under the care of a doting mother—until she re married and his stepfather felt compelled to beat the sissy out of the effeminate boy. The first corporal punishment Ran dolph ever received was inflicted “as soon as the festivities of the wedding had ceased,” he later wrote, and ushered in a regime of “most intolerable tyranny.” Harsh discipline left Randolph with a burning resentment against tyranny of all kinds, but also with a craving for strong masculine authority figures he could em ulate, a complex desire that later erupted William Benemann is the author of Unruly De sires: American Sailors and Homosexualities in the Age of Sail and Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade .

John Randolph of Roanoke on his embarkation for Russia onboard ship Concord .

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ass your superior.” A descendent of Pocahontas, Randolph reveled in his mixed-raced ancestry, crediting his Indian blood for the “wild ness” in his nature. He felt that it was this untamed Native American spirit alone that allowed him to construct a mascu line identity, despite his very feminine appearance. “Indeed I have remarked in myself, from my earliest recollection, a deli cacy or effeminacy of complexion, that, but for a spice of the devil in my temper, would have consigned me to the distaff or the needle.”

disks under the effect of frequent drunkenness, and, later in life, as he depended more and more on opium to dull his misery, they would contract into tiny black pinpoints set in a field of eerily glowing hazel. Nor was Randolph’s behavior in Congress what the dele gates had come to expect from their colleagues. He would sweep into the chamber wearing knee-high riding boots, leather breeches, and an ankle-length frocked coat that swirled around him like a cape as he sashayed, smacking his riding crop against his gloved palm. Carefully setting aside his hat and

whip, he would (“very deliberately and very coolly—provokingly so,” as one con temporary described it) untie the bandana from his throat and wrap it around his head to hold back his long raven hair, and then he would strike a dramatic pose and pause until the Speaker of the House prodded him to get on with it.

Like many plantation owners of the pe riod, Randolph inherited a problem he de tested but did not have the moral gumption to put right. Matoax, Bizarre, and Roanoke, the three plantations that he inhabited at var ious times, all depended on the labor of en slaved African Americans, and manumitting his workers would have left Randolph im

John Randolph was first elected to the House in 1798. His androgynous appearance bewildered his contemporaries.

This was clearly gender performance, and Randolph was aware that it repulsed some of his colleagues in the House, but he felt that he had little choice. He was unable to present him self as a traditionally masculine figure and did not wish to be a woman, so he enacted a middle sex and mocked his fellows for their brutish manliness. When one representative made a snide comment on the floor of the House about Randolph’s apparent lack of virility, the honorable member from the 7th District of Virginia clapped back: “You pride yourself on your animal faculty, in which the negro is your equal and the jack

poverished—and on the same footing as thousands of other white American men who had only grit, talent, and opportunity with which to raise themselves in the world. Randolph excused his continued use of enslaved workers with the specious argu ment that he needed to operate his plantations at a profit in order to earn enough money to house, clothe, and feed the people he was enslaving. Still, it should be noted that Randolph never bought or sold enslaved people. Throughout his life he referred to himself as an ami des noirs —at a time when his neighbors would have employed a blunter English term—and in his final

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years his sole intimate companions were his two Black body servants, John and Juba. Upon his death he freed all of his en slaved workers, and as reparations he pro vided them with land of their own to farm as free persons of color—something Wash ington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and

ailments and was invariably drunk or drugged. His associates in Congress looked upon him with pity and regret, but never ceased to be impressed by his dazzling eru dition, nor to fear his caustic tongue. “At times he is the most entertaining and amus ing man alive,” wrote a congressman from Massachusetts, “with manners most pleas ant and agreeable; and at other times he is sour, morose, crabbed, ill-natured, and sar castic, rude in manners, and repulsive to everybody. Indeed, I think he is partially deranged, and seldom in the full possession of his reason.” Perhaps the saddest descrip tion of Randolph came from a contempo rary who witnessed the bitter, grotesque creature he had evolved into: “a flowing gargoyle of vituperation.” When John Randolph died, Dr. Francis West conducted a postmortem examination and reported that the “scrotum was scarcely

Hamilton could have done but did not. Randolph was a fervent acolyte of Jef ferson—until his fellow Virginian began to waver in his anti-Federalist opposition to a strong central government. In time Ran dolph’s party (and the nation) moved on and he was left behind, defending a staunchly conservative position that be came more and more untenable as the country expanded westward. Feeling he could support neither the Democratic-Re publicans nor the Federalists, Randolph formed his own party, which he called the Tertium Quid (the Third Thing)—a curious choice of name for a man who had been denigrated throughout his life for not being convincingly male or female. Randolph was elected to the House of Representatives seven times, served two years in the Senate, and was briefly the U.S. ambassador to Russia, but as he aged his political conservatism calcified into a curmudgeonly opposition to anything that vaguely smacked of progress. He was wracked with physical

With a caption that reads: “John Randolph. Engraving by John Sartain after the original from life by Catlin taken during the sitting of the Virginia State Convention in 1831.”

at all developed” and that he possessed only a right testicle, which was “the size of a small bean.” West was severely criti cized for releasing the results of the autopsy, and thereafter de clined to give more details. A recent biographer argues convincingly that Randolph was born with Klinefelter Syn drome, a condition in which an individual possesses one Y and two X chromosomes, inhibiting him from developing secondary male characteristics. In 2020 a cisgender, straight-acting, openly gay man was appointed to the President’s cabinet, and the nation applauded or grumbled. But it is worth noting that in the early years of the Republic (before the Victorian straitjackets of gender were strapped into place), a non-binary politician who self-identi fied as mixed-race became one of the most powerful men in Washington. Throughout his years in Congress, Randolph al ternated between highly skillful behind-the-scenes maneuver ing to press his party’s legislative agenda, and an intentionally provocative brandishing of his effeminacy. He astonished with his intellect, intimidated with his sharp tongue, and entertained an entire nation of newspaper readers with his undeniable star quality. Whatever the cause of his gender ambiguity, Randolph used his eccentricities of dress and behavior to lean into what could have been an insurmountable handicap for any politician. When the gentleman from Virginia swept onto the floor of Con gress (his high-heel boots clicking, his frocked coat twirling around him), slapped down his whip, whisked off his bandana to tie back his long, flowing hair, and then proceeded to savage his foes in the piping falsetto of a prepubescent boy, John Ran dolph of Roanoke was proclaiming himself to be his own spe cial creation. R EFERENCES Dawidoff, Robert. The Education of John Randolph. W.W. Norton & Co., 1979. Johnson, David. John Randolph of Roanoke (Southern Biography Se ries). LSU Press, 2012. Kierner, Cynthia A. Scandal at Bizarre: Rumor and Reputation in Jef ferson’s America. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

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ESSAY FromCamp Performer to Camp Inmate L AURENCE S ENELICK

B ERLIN CABARETS between the wars had their fair share of homosexual headliners (“ho mosexual” being the period term). Wilhelm Bendow, affectionately known as Lieschen, portrayed a scatterbrained, giggling “nance” whose naïve questions and double entendres provoked hilarity. Claire Waldoff, a regular at the lesbian clubs with her henna-dyed Prince Valiant hairdo and husky voice, sang of “Kicking the Men Out of Parliament.” They were both wildly popular with all ranks of society. Despite their unabashed sexual identities, both performers managed to outlive the Nazi regime. Because of a tour to Lon don, Waldoff was forbidden to appear onstage and retired to provincial obscurity. Bendow’s silliness kept him in favor until 1944, when a remark deemed to be politically offensive caused him to spend the last months of the war in a labor camp. He sur vived to become the beloved “Uncle Willi” on postwar West German television. A more dire fate was reserved for Paul O’Montis. Despite his great celebrity as a stage and recording star, O’Montis was completely erased from the record after his death in a concentration camp. Only now, with the issuance of a biography in German by Ralf Jörg Raber and a CD of fifty of his “greatest hits,” can his career be reconstructed. However, many blanks remain in the record. O’Montis was born Paul Emanuel Wendel in a small Hun garian town in 1894. German Protestants in a Magyar Catholic community, his family soon moved to Riga. The Slavic culture

he was an enemy “Kraut.” Eventually he managed to get back to Riga, where he starred at the Casino-Theater, offering “inti mate songs” packed with innuendo. By this time he had adopted the stage name Paul O. Montis (later O’Montis). His local celebrity brought him to Munich and Berlin, where he continued to write libretti for operettas. In the Friedrich Hol laender revue Laterna Magica he came to public notice, classi fied as a Vortragskünstler , which means an artiste who delivers patter with his songs. O’Montis appeared in silent films, pub lished a good deal of pulp fiction, and was a jack of all trades in the performing arts. His enduring fame and fortune, however, came with the new medium of radio. His frequent appearances there led to lucrative recording contracts, beginning in 1927 and resulting in seventy popular “platters.” His first great hits were typically suggestive: “Was hast du für Gefühle, Moritz?” (“What kinds of feelings have you, Moritz?”) and “Die Susi bläst das Saxophon” (“Susie Blows the Saxophone”). O’Montis’ voice was a light tenor, very much of its time; ana logues would be the voices of No ё l Coward and FredAstaire. Our contemporary Max Raabe (b. 1962) and his band have tried hard to recreate this somewhat effete style. American radio had popu larized “Whispering Jack Smith,” so O’Montis was billed as “the whispering chansonnier.” The microphone afforded him a wide variety of effects and enabled him to make points and suggest nu ance effortlessly. Critics raved about his “shrewdly balanced tech nique.” One of them explained: “His technique is to put across the most banal and popular chansons in such a way that they are

also fun for more demanding people, because, by standing above them, he wittily satirizes them.” His repertoire was wide-ranging (Fig. 1). Many of his best numbers were what was known on Tin Pan Alley as novelty songs: “Amalie geht mit’m Gummikavalier” (“Amalie Goes Out with a Rubber Boyfriend”), “Kuno der Weiberfeind” (“Kuno the Misogynist”) and “Madame Lulu.” He could ventrilo quize gypsy ballads (“Komm Zigany”) and Jewish tsuris (“Ghetto” and “Kadisch”), as well as put over German versions of American hits. Some of his offerings are reminiscent of Spike Jones with their reliance on sound effects: “Mein Bruder macht in Tonfilm die Geräusche” (“My Brother Does the Sound Effects for the Talkies”). He fore shadowed Anna Russell’s Wagnerian demolition act with his parody of Schiller’s William Tell, retold with ap

of the Latvian capital was dominated by a German-speaking population and a Russian administration, so young Wen del grew up a polyglot. At seventeen he wrote the libretto for an operetta that was performed at the German theater there. Despite several successes in that line, he moved to cabaret songs or chan sons almost by accident. When the First World War broke out, the German residents of Riga were re garded as a Fifth Column by the Russian government. Still a minor, Wendel was packed off to a civilian internment camp in Siberia, where he began entertaining to piano accompaniment. As the Tsarist regime unraveled, he escaped in 1917 and wound up at a variety theater in rev olutionary Petrograd. Because of his flu ency in Russian, no one suspected that Laurence Senelick is the editor and translator of Cabaret Performance: Europe 1890–1940 .

Figure 1. Advertisement for O’Montis recordings.

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eye and plucked eyebrows, O’Montis was shown in poses that suggested ef feminacy (Fig. 2). Baldness aside, he bears a striking resemblance to Peter Lorre’s Joel Cairo in The Maltese Fal con (Fig. 3). O’Montis himself liked to say that he was “beloved of elderly ladies and young gentlemen,” which serves as the title for Raber’s biography. For all this, O’Montis kept his pri vate life private. Court documents reveal that he probably had liaisons with his piano accompanists Teddy Sinclair (born Theodor Jakob Schmidt) and Franz Hasl. Much of the time he seems to have taken up with working-class youths and hus tlers, whose easy availability in Weimar Berlin is attested by Christopher Isher wood’s memoirs. This would ultimately lead to the singer’s downfall.

Figures 2 and 3. Two drawings of O’Montis by Key, 1932 and 1931.

propriate snatches of hackneyed music. However, O’Montis was distinguished above all by a racy reliance on what we would call “camp.” Although he had to be careful not to offend against the 1927 “Gesetz zur Bewahrung der Jugend vor Schund- und Schmutzschriften” (Law to Protect Youth against Obscene and Filthy Writing), a measure similar to our present-day legislation against queer and transgender texts, he managed to permeate both his lyrics and his delivery with equivocal messages. The lyric for his earliest recorded hit goes:

The notorious Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, which criminalized sex between men, was still in force, but had been something of a dead letter under the Weimar Republic. No sooner had the Nazis come to power in 1933 than they began strictly enforcing it. An attack was launched against homosex ual bars and drag clubs. Beyond the disappearance of his fa vorite haunts, the closing of Jewish firms meant that O’Montis’ recording contracts were not honored. In December, while touring in Cologne (Fig. 4), he was ar rested and imprisoned, accused of “vilely” inducing two youths to “endure unnatural sex acts ,” language taken directly from Para graph 175. One of the alleged victims was reported to be a fif teen-year-old apprentice from a good Cologne family; the other, a year older, “came from another class” and “must be regarded as already corrupted.” O’Montis protested that the boys had ap proached him and no harm had been done, but the court regarded him as an “uninhibited person” who used “ingenious skill” in passing the teenagers on to “like-minded people.” O’Montis’ pri vate secretary was held as an accessory and a search of the

Was hast du für Gefühle, Moritz, Moritz, Moritz, Sind’s kühle oder schwüle, Moritz, Moritz, Moritz, Du sagst nicht Ja, du sagst nicht Nein, Du bist so fein, and doch gemein Du hast eine Herz für viele, Mortiz, Moritz, Moritz Du bist zu schön, um treu zu sein!

(What kind of feelings have you, Moritz./ Are they cool or warm, Moritz?/ You don’t say Yes, you don’t say No,/ You are so refined and yet so coarse/ You have a heart for many, Moritz/ You are too good-looking to be true!)

singer’s quarters turned up hundreds of let ters from youths throughout Germany. It was perhaps coincidental that O’Montis’ first encounter with the police came after the Nazi takeover, but the charges also included “making remarks insulting to members of the government and the national party,” calling the Reich ministers Ernst Röhm and Rudolf Hess gay, as well as dissuading the older boy from joining the naval branch of the Hitler Youth. (These were crimes that fell under the purview of the Gestapo.) O’Montis made a statement that he had never be longed to leftist parties and only repeated what he had heard. The political charges were more seri ous than the sexual ones. Male prostitution and homosexual activities with minors were not specifically made illegal until

The pun on schwül (warm) and schwul (gay) is too obvious to be missed. O’Montis later made a best-selling record camping up a hit from the operetta White Horse Inn (1930): “Was kann der Sigis mund dafür, daß er so schön ist?” (“How can Siggy help it if he’s so good-look ing?”) (Noel Coward’s “Mad about the Boy” is similarly equivocal. Originally it was written to be sung by a woman in a revue, but once Coward sang it himself in his nightclub act it became a gay anthem.) Via the air waves and the domestic Vic trola, O’Montis managed to inject sexual diversity and questionable gender into commercial pop. Caricatures and publicity photos made no secret of his effeteness. Impeccably dressed, with a monocle firmly in his left

Figure 4. O’Montis in Cologne, 1933.

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