Vintage matchbook cover from the Jewel Box Lounge in Kansas City, Missouri.
A few of my DM colleagues as well as myself have posted about vintage matchbooks previously—think of them as folk art—so I was pretty delighted when I came across a large array of vintage drag and gay club matchbooks—some dating back to the 1950s.
Like some of you, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for matchbooks and have a large collection of them myself that I’ve collected over the years from places that no longer exist like the one of the greatest rock clubs in Boston, The Channel and other clubs and bars that closed their doors long ago. When it comes to the drag club matchbook covers I can’t lie—they are fantastic and as colorful as the female impersonators who graced the stages at venues like the Jewel Box Lounge in Kansas City (one of which is pictured at the top of this post), or the artistic interpretation of the leather boys that hung out at the Ambush in San Francisco back in the day.
Occasionally these kinds of matchbooks do pop up on auction sites such as eBay and depending on their condition can sell for as much as $50. I’m especially fond of the matchbook personalized by drag performer/piano player “extraordinaire” Sir Lawrence Lawson who notes that every time you light your “reefer” with one of his gay matches you’ll read his poetic message reminding you that he’s “thinking of you.” Awww.
A matchbook from the San Francisco gay club Ambush.
The Torch Club, Sacramento, California. The club first opened its doors in 1934.
Tony’s, Chicago’s ‘Gayest Spot.’
More matchbooks from the Jewel Box.
Club My-O-My, New Orleans.
Another gem from the Jewel Box.
The 82 Club, New York.
The Barn, Toronto.
One more fabulous matchbook cover from the Jewel Box.
A matchbook from the Wonder Club in New Orleans advertising drag performer Mr. Billy Austin.
A matchbook personalized by female impersonator and pianist Sir Lawrence Lawson.
Sir Lawrence’s sweet message to all his ‘reefer’ smoking fans.
Mona’s 440, San Francisco, the country’s first lesbian bar. Mona’s female waiters wore tuxedos
A vintage matchbook featuring drag sensation, the great Francis Renault.
HT: Queer Music Heritage
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘LET ME DIE IN DRAG!’: The sleazy pulp paperbacks of ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ director Ed Wood
Found photos from Kansas City’s 1960s drag scene
Sexy vintage matchbook covers
Pulp friction: Vintage matchbooks transformed into tiny pulp novel book covers (and more)