We got to thinking, what if Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein threw a holiday potluck, inviting a dreamy guest list of dykes from the 20s and 30s (plus a guest appearance by a snoozing Ernest Hemingway)? Presenting…. The Butch Lesbians of the 20s, 30, and 40s Christmas Special featuring butchly butches from the Butch Lesbians of the 20s 30s and 40s Coloring Book!
The other editor of the butch coloring book, Jon Macy, came up with the idea of a three-minute holiday video from our favorite butches, and I bossily decided that it needed to be a potluck, because I love to cook and I love to eat. We drew up our potluck guest-list, I wrote the script, and it snowballed into an eight-minute party,
BEHIND THE SCENES
We needed torsos of our guests for the party to look visually cohesive, and wanted to include several femmes, so the drawings of our fearless lesbians are taken from actual photographs of them, not from the coloring book. The parlour set in the background is Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein’s actual living room at 27 rue de Fleurus in the 6th arrondissement of Paris on the Left Bank of Paris. The large country home in the beginning is their rented country home in Bilignin, Ain, in the Rhône-Alpes region of France.
The dialogue about death in the kitchen and smothering pigeons is taken from Alice’s cookbook, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. The recipes for braised pigeons on croutons, hashish fudge majoun, tricolor omelette, and black current liqueur are all in this book. I highly recommend the cookbook for the depiction of Gertrude and Alice’s domestic life in Paris during WWII.
Word lovers that they were, Alice and Gertrude had many pet names for one another. Mr. Cuddle-Wuddle and Hubbie were two favorites for Gertrude, and Alice often became Baby Precious and Wifie. Alice was a domestic top; typing Gertrude’s writing, entertaining the wives of the male artists that Gertrude hung out with, and managing the household.
“She needs filling with love, every second and she is she is, she is filled up full every, second, nicely every day” is a quote from Baby Precious Always Shines: Selected Love Notes Between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and “at the table as in bed, there should be a climax and a culmination” is a quote from Alice. They had a lusty, well-documented sex life; Gertrude was a service top in the bedroom, worshiping Alice and longing to give her orgasm after orgasm.
Just ask poor Thelma! Never date a writer…or rather, never vex the writer you’re dating. Thelma Woods and Djuna Barnes had a stormy affair, which was fictionalized in Djuna’s scandalous novel, Nightwood. Thelma was Robin Vote in Nightwood, while Djuna is Nora Flood. Thelma stopped speaking to Djuna after the novel was released. William S. Burroughs called it “one of the great books of the twentieth century”, and it’s truly a book worth an annual read.
Photographer and activist, Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Joe Carstairs didn’t run in the same circles and never hooked up, but they would have been a fiery power couple! And yes, we’d love to be the jam in that sandwich.
Cherifa (Amina Bakalia) was a butch Moroccan grain seller and business woman who was friends and lovers with the writer Jane Bowles from 1948 until Jane’s death in 1973. Jane was devoted to Cherifa, “…this wild creature, this illiterate but powerful peasant girl nineteen or twenty years old, a descendant of the patron saint of Tangier.” Paul Bowles, Jane’s husband and the composer, suspected that Cherifa poisoned Jane to get her money, a suspicion that was shared by Jane and Paul’s friends and encouraged by Jane.
The glamorous singer and dancer, Josephine Baker, loved animals and had a pet cheetah that she named Miss Chiquita. The feline traveled the world with Josephine, always riding in her car and sleeping in her bed.
Gadabout and boat racer, Joe Carstairs, had a 12” tall leather doll that she named Lord Tod Wadley given to her in 1925 by one of her many girlfriends, Ruth Baldwin. Joe said, ”I was never entirely honest to anyone, except to Wadley. His eyes were black beads, like shining currants, set wide in innocence and topped with short, lightly arched eyebrows.” When Joe died, Lord Tod was cremated with her.
The song “Nothing Now Perplexes Like the Sexes, Because When You See Them Switch, You Can’t Tell Which is Which” was sung by Gladys Bentley and immensely popular in the mid-1930s. Unfortunately, no recordings of it exist.
The Dutch Resistance activist, Bet Van Beeren, really did like to leather up and zoom about Amsterdam on her motorcycle. She was also known for her charitable deeds for children, elderly folks, and other community friends, so playing Santa would have not been out of character.
For more information about our fabulous butches, buy our coloring book, ; pictures in the front and bios in the back! This fabulous coloring book celebrates the swaggering butch lesbians of yesteryear, including drawing by a multitude of artists, biographies by Avery Cassell, and a forward by scholar Sasha T. Goldberg. Fun for the classroom or for personal pleasure. This makes a great gift for your favorite butch, or butch lover in your life. Butch Lesbians of the 20s 30s and 40s Coloring Book is published by Stacked Deck Press.
The Butch Lesbians of the 20s, 30, and 40s Christmas Special team is: Directed and edited by Jon Macy, written by Avery Cassell, coloring by Jon Macy and Avery Cassell, and “Prove It On Me” written and sung by Miss Ma Rainey.