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Old 12-04-2015, 01:40 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by theoddz View Post
I'm really enjoying reading all of the posts here. It takes me back to some really fond memories of good times and good friends. I was serving in the USMC back in the late 70's/early 80's, in Southern California. My/our (a large group of gay Women Marines) "stomping grounds" were mainly in San Diego and L.A.. We had sooooo much fun then, and it made coming out so much easier being around such good friends.

Peanuts, in LA, as was Que Sera (to a lesser extent, however), was a major party place for all of us, though we didn't go up there to LA nearly as much as we partied in San Diego, at places like The Club, The Brass Rail, The Apartment and Diablo's, among many others. After The Club closed, places like The Box Office opened up, but most were just flashes in the pan, so to speak.

I do remember, though, being told by a few of the older members of our group that there was another group of lesbians that never socialized in the bar scenes. These women, as I was told, were those who couldn't afford to be seen in the lesbian bars because of their professions (many were military officers and career military members) positions in society or fears of being outed to their families. Because of this, they met each other through other means and socialized together outside of the bars. It was all a dark and mysterious culture to me, at that time. I was young and into the bar scene.

It's been a long road for me, since those times and those places, and it just serves to remind me of how far I have come, and how deep my roots are in the Lesbian community. It's such a big part of my life and who I am now. Abandoning it would be like tearing a piece of my heart out.

~Theo~
Oh Theo! Just think, we could have danced side by side at one time or another and never knew each other!

That mysterious group you were talking about was Southern California Women for Understanding, or SCWU, for short.

My ex and I joined for a few years. They had dances, potlucks, casual activities and we met for picnics at parks with our children and things like that. Those were the days that lesbians did not have children to the degree gay women do now! To find an organization where other women had children, helped mine to not feel so alone to have a gay mom.

I recall that there were a lot of teachers in the group. I believe SCWU was founded sometime around *1978-1979. Teachers were understandably worried about job loss due to being lesbian, so they truly felt like they had so much to lose if they came out or were found out.

I guess lesbians in the military were really in the same position. Imagine the stress of hiding but it was so normal to hide for lesbians of the 50's, 60's and 70's! It is still the same in parts of the USA, other countries and with some jobs today.

There also was the Briggs Initiative back then and lesbian teachers really and truly were threatened with the loss of their jobs! It was scary for a professional woman.

I was in nursing school and my ex worked in the jail at the time, so we were less worried about exposure than the women that had achieved a level of status in their jobs.

Oh my, I feel like an elder lesbian stateswoman now! I guess that I kind of am.

*I looked online and according to the June Mazer collection:

Southern California Women for Understanding (SCWU) collection, 1975-1999

The Southern California Women for Understanding (SCWU), was an educational non-profit organization, formed in 1976 and dedicated to “enhancing the quality of life for [the lesbian] community and for lesbians nationwide, creative and positive exchange about homosexuality, [and] changing stereotypical images of lesbians.”

SCWU emerged in the midst of the civil rights, gay rights, and women’s movements when many marginalized social groups organized en masse to demand recognition and rights. SCWU was one of the earliest known lesbian organizations. At its height, SCWU reached membership of 1,100 and in 1982, Lesbian News hailed it as the “largest lesbian support group in the country.”

The collection contains the operational records of Southern California Women for Understanding (SCWU), one of the earliest lesbian non-profit educational organizations in Los Angeles, California.

http://www.mazerlesbianarchives.org/...standing-scwu/
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Last edited by *Anya*; 12-04-2015 at 01:52 PM. Reason: Correct dates for SCWU
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Old 12-04-2015, 01:57 PM   #22
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Anya, we very well may have been rubbing elbows at that time and not knew it!! As I so vividly recall, I was soooooo very cautious about talking to people I didn't know, out of fear that they were undercover military "narcs" or NIS (Naval Investigative Services, at that time, who were charged with outing and/or pursuing gay and lesbian military members) agents. It really put a damper on getting to know other lesbians who were not already known to me. You just had to be careful what you told other people about yourself, too. When you're drunk, you lose a LOT of "filters", so to speak, so a lot of women I knew were outed, then discharged from the military, as a result of partying in the bars.

It was a scary time to be LGBT in the military, then. NIS agents would sit in parked cars outside of the known establishments who catered to the LGBT community and look for cars with military/DoD stickers on the windshields. Once they had that sticker number, they had the name registered on base with it. The witch hunts would then begin, and let me tell you.......there were a LOT of them!! The discharges they gave to gay/lesbian/queer/bi military members back then were not "Honorable", either. Even in the best of circumstances, what a lot of people got was a "General Discharge under Honorable Conditions". You still lose some Veterans benefits with that one.

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Old 12-04-2015, 02:00 PM   #23
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Default Great thread & Posts! ^5

I came out in 1973 as a youngster! Around the time of the Stonewall riots.This was in the Deep South, smack in the middle of that "bible belt". The only women "visible" to me were ones who dressed very masculine, and were called "diesel dykes". Most wore blue jeans, jean work shirts, and heavy boots, worked some sort of machine shop jobs, and rode motorcycles. I thought they were just beautiful people to me....and I admired their courage, grit, & stance to be themselves. The only words I had ever heard for describing any one who preferred "same sex" coupling were "queer" & "faggot"
It wasn't until late 70's I began to hear of "butch & femme". I met a butch/femme couple...when the butch was my patient. The femme & I became very close, and she schooled me on the butch concept.

My very first bar ever was a small bar in Greenville,SC....Club Gemini. I talked a gay male friend into us "checking it out". If anyone approached us & we felt uncomfortable, we would claim to be "together". Ha....

The owners, whom became very dear friends of mine, sold that club & opened the Stone Castle. I am not sure if it is still in business, but I had many fun times there.

Cops did come in regularly, ID'ed us, etc...but I was never hassled in any way by them.

The friend who schooled me on the BF dynamic took me to a very popular bar in HotLanta....The Sweet Gum Head. There I saw my very first drag show. Brandy Alexander, Hot Chocolate, and others.....OHHH EMMM Geeee....I loved iut...and wound up going back often as it was a short drive there!!!

Late 80's I moved to HotLanta. Like Georgia Ma'am said, I hung out at Charis Books, Piedmont Park, and several clubs. I saw Lea DeLaria, the Indigo Girls, and Melissa Etheridge perform there.

My fave club was Deana's One Mo' Time. I went to the Page a few times, but wasn't as comfortable there. I went to The Other Side when it opened, and was fairly comfortable there. Until the one night, someone brought a backpack in, filled with explosives and nails, sat it down next to my table. I was outside when it went off, injuring several folks. I just didn't want to go back there anymore after that.

I went to some of the other colorful bars around town, some I no longer remember names of...but Model T's was one my male friend always wanted me to go to with him when he was prowling...lol.

Another piece of history I remember early on was the case in Ga. of Bowers v. Hardwick. You can google it to read more. Basically two guys were in the privacy of their own bedroom when they got "raided" and charged with sodomy.

Years & years ago, two ladies out in California had what was called The Wishing Well....Laddie & Gloria....where you paid for an ad, the booklet was published and sent to members, updated every so often. On Our Backs was one of the very first things I read..... Radycliffe Hall's Well of Loneliness was my first fiction. Then I was gifted the Beebo Brinker series of books...

I remember the March On Washington . I wasn't privy to be a part of it but proud still...

Athens,Ga was a very well known town for feminists. I went to several events there, one being the Vagina Monologues, played out on the grounds of UGA. I was active in the feminism movement in my very small hometown area. I saw Alix Dobkin perform there several times. Her stories always amazed me. Women & power!!!

Thanks for all these great posts. I have enjoyed reading them all & even know of several of the places & people mentioned.

It is amazing to step back in time..to where I was and where I am now. Fond memories & stories from over the last 42 years....gassssppp...where DID time go...

Thanks, Virago!!!

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Old 12-04-2015, 03:48 PM   #24
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I just signed in and what a nice surprise. This is a great threat. Thanks Virago.

I don't know much about the bar scene nowadays since I haven't had a drink since 1990 and pretty much stay out of bars unless I have a good reason to be there, like a wedding or funeral or brunch at the Club Café in Boston or some such. But I pretty much grew up in bars so it was natural for me to gravitate toward lesbian bars when I came out. Mostly I remember them being called women's bars, at least in Boston. I remember Somewhere Else and Saints and a couple of gay bars whose names I can't recall but that had women's nights. As a teenager I lived in Fall River, MA and went to a gay bar there called the Sword & Shield. It was mixed- both men and women. It wasn't a big city so I guess we didn't have enough queers to populate more than one bar so we all drank and danced together. There was the Randolph Country Club (it wasn't really a country club, imagine a lesbian country club, if they actually had one I wouldn't have been able to afford to join it though) that had a pool which was pretty awesome in the day, you could swim, shoot pool and get shitfaced all in the same area not to mention pick up women. I do remember that butch and femme was not an acceptable identity in those days. It's kind of funny when I look back because I always dated femmes although they didn't identify as such and I always looked butch. I just didn't call myself that. I don't think I played it down because, well, because I'm not sure I can, but I certainly managed to deny myself to myself and to anyone listening. I gave lip service to the dogma of the day. Maybe I even believed it. I had issues with men/male/masculinity, stuff I hadn't even begun to look at let alone work through so I definitely agreed that I didn't want to ape men or heterosexual relationships. So I didn't ID as butch, but really if it looks like a duck. And I surely did look like a duck. And I was attracted to women who were femmes, just like the women who were attracted to me were attracted to female masculinity no matter what they called it. It was an interesting time. I really loved the friendships and the camaraderie that comes from a shared experience, especially one that has an element of danger like being out and about in those days did. Although looking back I cringe a bit remembering some of the stuff I said and did, I am grateful I had those spaces and those people. And personally I do love flannel though I don't wear it much anymore unless I'm going for a walk in the woods, which by the way I do an awful lot of. In those days I got to wear flannel as pretty much a uniform. Flannel shirt over a t-shirt, levis, and boots. Happy days.

I also loved hanging at New Words bookstore in Cambridge. Also at the Cambridge Women's Center where I did some volunteering as a young dyke. And at the Trident bookstore and café which wasn't really lesbian space or even gay space, but was always very welcoming space. I did the bars but I also got involved in the women's movement and I remember my first Take Back the Night March, wide eyed baby butch that I was I fell in love with protests. I looked behind me to see hundreds and hundreds of candles glowing in the dark and I might have cried from the sheer awesomeness of it.

I don't know what bars are like now. If there are a lot of lesbian bars or gay bars or not. I think probably not in numbers and certainly not in importance. They just aren't as necessary. They wouldn't matter in the same way. The internet makes finding each other much easier. Online chat rooms also. Buying books online at Amazon and such makes women's bookstores not so important. But I am so grateful they were there when I needed them growing up and coming out. Life may be easier now but it was more exciting then I think. But it's all about perspective I imagine so mileage may vary
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:26 PM   #25
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OMG RANDALF COUNTRY CLUB!
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Old 12-04-2015, 06:49 PM   #26
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Yes! I remember the Duchess at the corner of W 4th and 7th Ave S. I'm deathly allergic to even tiny quantities of alcohol, so I didn't and don't go out to to bars, but we all knew where to go.

It's true that butch and femme expression was frowned upon back then. Make-up was discouraged. Long fingernails were anathema. In fact, if you had long fingernails everyone know you couldn't be a real lesbian. Lucky for me, my motorcycle was the badge of a bona-fide bad-ass, so some of my, umm, idiosyncrasies got a pass. NO, I don't miss those times. I especially don't miss the anti-leatherdyke sensibilities that suffused our community back then.
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Old 12-04-2015, 07:35 PM   #27
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I was one of those dykes that went out dancing 4 nights a week. I worked extra shifts, and didn't eat, so I could go clubbing. I LOVED everything about queer bars when I was young.

Like every other thing I look back on, I'm grateful for the good times (there were many), I fondly remember most of the women I slept with (there were many) and I feel remorse and sadness and shame for the some of the mistakes I made (there were many).
I remember those years for a lot of deaths as well. So many male friends died of AIDS. So many people I knew died in drunk driving accidents and drug overdoses. Everyone was a smoker. There were the women of died of probably-prevenable cancers, but who didn't want to deal with homophobia, or their biology, at a gynecological clinic. And the friends who expressed their gender in ways that made hateful killers feel justified in their actions. And all this bad news was passed along at the bars. And we'd drink to them and party.

So when I think of bars in those days, the memories are a tangle of happiness and grief. I guess very generation feels this way.
It's interesting to hear/talk about, and a valuable comversation.
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:15 PM   #28
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For five years, when I lived in southern Oregon (Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass - but primarily Ashland), I noticed that I had to make an effort, somehow, at growing or cultivating relations with others in the Lesbian community.

As some, or many might know, there's only a hand full of bars in the metro area (or less) where one might find company. But in southern Oregon, at least between 2003-2008, the only place one could find a place to meet others was not at a bar, but at an Lesbian owned B&B (Morning Glory; they serve awesome cuisine) or at the annual Black & White Ball, which was sponsored by Abdill-Ellis/ Lambda which I think this wonderful organization is no longer around, but has been re-invented to provide services in other kinds of ways.

I loved attending the annual winter dance. Blue Lightening played music for the dance, there was a wet bar too, but even in the tiny town of Ashland, southern Oregon is not really .... a place one can feel any wide margin of safety, like in the tiny blue dot of our metro area. Even nowadays, I still don't feel completely at ease because of my own heightened awareness which is probably brought on by how I feel about maintaining my own personal safety.

When I went to the ball, I wore a long black velvet designer dress, which i dont think fit in well with the styles others in the community wore, but people were very nice, hard to get to know, but over tine, during the five years I sent in Ashland, I made some life long friends. In fact, those five years were the best years of my life , over the course of my life time, I would say. Really lovely community, very interesting and highly private people who touched my life with incredible kindness.

Here's a couple of links for others to read about the Abdill-Ellis couple who were strong members of the community, at one time, and the legacy of their vision for the LGBTQ community with special emphasis for the Lesbian community in a very rural location in southern Oregon.

http://m.mailtribune.com/article/20100818/News/8180328

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roxann...ichelle_Abdill
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Old 12-05-2015, 01:58 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by dykeumentary View Post
I would love to hear thoughts on how race/class played out in lesbian bars you went to. My experience as a white working class softball dyke was very different than white middle class upwardly mobile lesbians in the 1980s, and it was even more different than the experience of my friends of color.
https://youtu.be/e1eUIPCbKec
This issue was not played out at all in my personal experience in the Chicago bars. We we're welcome in the male bars also without any racism, classism, or bias. Heck, I probably sat on the same stool Barak Obama sat on.
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:30 PM   #30
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I thought of a few things prior to my move to Atlanta that pertain to this topic:

Around 1984, I lived in Milledgeville, Georgia, a small college town. At that time, the lesbians went to a straight country and western dance bar called Cowboy Bill's. The SOP was that lesbians could dance together, BUT, if any guy asked you to dance, you had to dance with them also. The explanation for this was that it was always okay for women to dance together if they couldn't get a man. Straight women danced together too. For the most part, the men kind of knew which women only wanted to dance together and mostly ignored us. Some were polite, asked us politely to dance, and were polite when we said 'no' to a second dance or a drink. Some men tried to - I don't know the right word, "trick" us isn't exactly right - but some men tried to see if we would make a big deal out of it. It was like walking a tightrope sometimes. We had to make sure we didn't embarrass the men, like by refusing to dance with them. It was oppressive and maybe a little dangerous, but we kept going there to dance. We all dressed at least a little femme, even the butches, but really, how femme do you have to be in a cowboy bar? Everybody wore plaid shirts then.

The alternative to this was going to the gay bars in either Macon or Athens. Macon was a small city then, and Athens is a big college town, where UGA is. We would road trip from Milledgeville, five or six of us crammed in a car. The bars were dumps, and lesbians and gay men both went to them. There were rumors that the bars got raided sometimes, but it never happened while I was there. I think the bar in Macon was called The Pegasus. I don't remember the name of the one in Athens. We put a lot of miles on our cars, but it was so exciting and wonderful to be somewhere that we could be ourselves.
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Old 10-18-2017, 05:34 PM   #31
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Old 10-18-2017, 05:39 PM   #32
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i didn’t go to gay bars but my old dear friend Pino owned the first gay bar in the parish in New Orleans.

OH the stories she would tell me.

One was how they had to let the guys in so when they got raided they could switch to look like heterosexual couples
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Old 10-24-2017, 06:06 PM   #33
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I came out in '83 and joined a coming out group on campus. One of our big adventures was to schedule a night to head out to the only tiny lesbian bar in our town.

Although the climate was friendlier than the 40's, 50's and 60's, it was still a bit frosty. People I knew were being disowned by their parents for being gay/lesbian.
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:21 PM   #34
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What a lovely, fascinating thread! I am so glad that it's been bumped!

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Originally Posted by Virago View Post
... Now with facebook and the forums we can read what people say and how others respond to those statements and decide which path we take by that education. Back then we just had The Community. You would maybe make a slight move and see how it was responded to. You would go on a date and then talk with your friends about it...
One of the things I hate about current times is the seeming primacy of "social media" over actual face-to-face interaction in some respects. On the one hand, YouTube, with its various LGBT channels has been quite an education for me in some respects, since the start of 2017, and was partly responsible for me gathering the nerve to go to the lone "lesbian bar" (hah! "lesbian-friendly", more like! Not a criticism of the owners, I gather that they just don't get enough women through their doors consistentlyenough to make it financially viable to be women-only) where I live. On the other, there's nothing like face to face contact for judging how interpersonal relationships of any kind are going, and I just wish that there was somewhere that was women-only that I could always go to when I'm able, and learn from simply socialising with my peers quite where and how I fit in in lesbian society. I'm sure I'd've had that sorted out pretty rapidly, given the opportunity. Gripping hand (any other fans of Larry Niven's SF in the house?) is that the world is as it is and not as I'd wish it to be, so it's me that has to adjust to the fact that, so far as I can tell, a lot of current lesbian socialising is pre-arranged out where I can't see it on "social media" that I won't touch with a bargepole for ethical reasons that most folk (and it isn't an age thing) seem blithely unable to comprehend. So sure, I can go to the few dyke places I know, but it's very hit and miss as to whether there'll be many/any actual lesbians in them at any given time... sigh.

Maybe it's my geek streak, but having social places for particular groups to some extent ("this is a straight place, here's a dyke place - that one's for the gay guys - that one's for anyone.." etc) just seems a more rational and easier way to arrange things. And the twice I ventured to our sole dyke bar and it happened to be wall-to-wall women were just glorious, it felt like coming home at long last!

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Old 10-25-2017, 01:40 AM   #35
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Glad this thread was bumped. It's been great reading about everyone's coming out/socialization experiences and how things have changed over the years. 1974 was when I came out as a mid-teenager in Indianapolis. Remember that there were a few bars which we spent time trying to get in. We hoped no one would ID us, but truth be told none of us looked a day over 17.

We were relegated to hanging out at a Steak & Egg diner in the downtown area or hanging on the streets if the waitress found out we had no money.

Glad to runaway to Chicago where I got a fake ID, and started actually getting in clubs. The two I remember best were Augie's on Broadway (middle class, white, younger) and CK's on Diversey (decidedly working class). Backstory on these two bars was that Augie and CK were lovers who both open bars. Years later, the two bars joined together. CK's was butch/femme with a few of us hated kikis thrown in. A kiki was a lesbian who could go either way on the gender scale depending on desire or need. We weren't a defined value traveling between the binary extremes so it made many feel uncomfortable.

At that time, Chicago had another bar that I remember, Lost and Found, which mostly catered to the 40 plus crowd.

New Orleans was the next stop about mid-1976. Had a co-worker and male friend who took me to all his leather haunts. Unfortunately, there were no womyn (would have become a leatherdyke much sooner).

As for community attitudes toward lesbians, the only problem with bias I encountered was in Indy.

Got blown away the 1st year I went to Michfest when it was on the old land in the early eighties. Loads of naked dykes everywhere. Even more amazed in 1987 at the March on Washington. More dykes than I'd ever seen together in one area.
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Old 10-25-2017, 04:58 PM   #36
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Even more amazed in 1987 at the March on Washington. More dykes than I'd ever seen together in one area.
I was fortunate enough to attend the March on Washington, and even more fortunate to be in a women's chorus that performed - the Atlanta Feminist Women's Chorus. I will never forget the thrill of looking out from the stage at the queers for as far as the eye could see, way to the back of the Mall.

We had several performances scheduled in D.C. during that time. People took to calling us the "kd lang contingent" because we were often seen out and about in our uniforms (teal "boyfriend"-type blazers with white shirts and black pants). I believe there were over 100 of us in the Chorus at that time.

I also remember getting star-struck by Kathy Najimy backstage. I'm so dumb when i meet famous people - I have no backstage coolness factor. I squeaked out something like, "I just LOVE your show!" - at the time, she was on Broadway with The Kathy & Mo Show, with Mo Gaffney.
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Old 10-25-2017, 05:41 PM   #37
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I was fortunate enough to attend the March on Washington, and even more fortunate to be in a women's chorus that performed - the Atlanta Feminist Women's Chorus. I will never forget the thrill of looking out from the stage at the queers for as far as the eye could see, way to the back of the Mall.

We had several performances scheduled in D.C. during that time. People took to calling us the "kd lang contingent" because we were often seen out and about in our uniforms (teal "boyfriend"-type blazers with white shirts and black pants). I believe there were over 100 of us in the Chorus at that time.

I also remember getting star-struck by Kathy Najimy backstage. I'm so dumb when i meet famous people - I have no backstage coolness factor. I squeaked out something like, "I just LOVE your show!" - at the time, she was on Broadway with The Kathy & Mo Show, with Mo Gaffney.
I LOVED the Kathy and MO Show!!!
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Old 10-25-2017, 08:29 PM   #38
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I LOVED the Kathy and MO Show!!!
Was just about to post the same thing! They were amazing together!!!!
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Old 10-26-2017, 04:56 AM   #39
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Was just about to post the same thing! They were amazing together!!!!
Ok, so I straight up ordered their DVD from $9.99 from Amazon right after I wrote this post!
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Old 10-26-2017, 10:44 AM   #40
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I'd never heard of them before, but looked them up on YouTube. I LOVE the angels sketch!
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