Friday, November 08, 2013

Know Your LGBT History - Moms Mabley


She was a legendary comedian and she was also family. Thanks to Whoopi Goldberg, Moms Mabley will be finally getting her due:

Whoopi Goldberg brings the story of America’s first female stand-up comic, Jackie Moms Mabley to HBO with Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley, premiering November 18. Goldberg—who put up her own money to produce and direct the documentary and went to Kickstarter for additional funds—told Showbiz 411 at the film’s Tribeca screening earlier this year:
We celebrate all the other firsts. Why haven’t we celebrated the first stand up comedian who was a woman and had been doing it since 1928?
Born Loretta Mary Aitken, Mabley began working as a stand-up in the late 1920s, and made a living on the Chitlin’ Circuit—the vaudeville clubs, speakeasies and theaters throughout the eastern, southern, and upper mid-west areas of the United States where African-American performers were able to perform during segregation.

In the early days of her performances, Mabley wore androgynous clothes on stage and worked blue, performing XXX-rated routines. As she developed her act,  Mabley took on the persona of granny or great auntie, wearing a floral house dress and a drooping hat. She took out her dentures for her stand-up routine—at the time dentures were common—and riffed on her character’s desire for young men and her distaste of old ones, addressing the imbalance of sexual power, as well as hitting on politics, race, war, and other social issues.

  . . .  A regular performer at both the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater, Mabley appeared in several films, recorded over twenty albums of her stand up comedy–some on her own label Poontan’–and was embraced in the late 1960s and 70s by television, appearing on Ed Sullivan Show, Merv Griffin, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the Grammys and other shows. At age 75 she recorded “Abraham, Martin and John,” scoring a Top 40 hit, making her the oldest person to do so (and she still holds that record!). At the peak of her career she was making $10,000 a week, breaking the ground and laying the foundation for women comics like Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers to the Queens of Comedy, Kathy Griffin and Ellen DeGeneres. Moms Mabley, a businesswoman and lesbian during segregation, crossed the color barrier and kicked ass on stage and off.

At age 79,  she came full circle, coming out loud and proud as a lesbian and became, according to Queers in History . . .
Check out the rest of this excellent article by Lisa Derrick for full details on Moms Mabley's life.

Past Know Your LGBT History Posts:

'Religious right angry at Senate Republicans over ENDA vote' and other Friday midday news briefs

Social Conservatives Flummoxed By Senate GOP Silence On LGBT Anti-Bias Bill - Cut them some slack. I mean you can't expect them to constantly repeat your lying anti-gay talking points without getting tired at least sometimes.

 Fact Checking Liberty Counsel's New Video On "Religious Hostility In The Military" - And guess what? There are a lot of things wrong with the Liberty Counsel's "facts." 

"Religious Liberty": The Next Big Front in the Culture Wars - And now that we recognize this, how do we find a cognitive argument against it.  

Minority Legislators Prove Key To Illinois Marriage Equality Victory - Just like everyone else, when minority legislators and communities in general aren't taking for granted by marriage equality supporters, they tend to reap success.  

Fondly Remembering Obama's Days As A Gay, Cocaine-Using Hustler - When Obama Derangement Syndrome combines with homophobia, it gets damned ugly.

Hawaii marriage equality opposition becoming pitiful as reality slowly sets in

As Hawaii inches closer and closer to becoming the 16th marriage equality state, the opposition is becoming louder, a little more aggressive, but just as sad: