sábado, 23 de julio de 2011

Gladys Bentley


Bentley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of American George L. Bentley and his wife, a Trinidadian, Mary Mote. She appeared at Harry Hansberry's "Clam House" on 133rd Street, one of New York City's most notorious gay speakeasies,[1] in the 1920s, and headlined in the early thirties at Harlem's Ubangi Club, where she was backed up by a chorus line of drag queens. 
She was a 250 pound woman dressed in men's clothes (including a signature tuxedo and top hat), who played piano and sang her own raunchy lyrics to popular tunes of the day in a deep, growling voice while flirting outrageously with women in the audience.
On the decline of the Harlem speakeasies with the repeal of Prohibition, she relocated to southern California, where she was billed as "America's Greatest Sepia Piano Player", and the "Brown Bomber of Sophisticated Songs". She was frequently harassed for wearing men's clothing. She claimed that she had married a white woman in Atlantic City.
Bentley was openly lesbian during her early career, but during the McCarthy Era, she started wearing dresses, married a man (who later denied that they ever married), and studied to be a minister, claiming to have been "cured" by taking female hormones.[3][4] She died, aged 52, from pneumonia in 1960.


Fictional characters based on Bentley appeared in Carl Van Vechten's Parties, Clement Woods's Deep River, and Blair Niles's Strange Brother. She recorded for the OKeh, Victor, Excelsior, and Flame labels.







Gladys Bentley (12 de agosto de 1907-18 de enero de 1960) fue una cantante de blues estadounidense que perteneció al movimiento cultural afroamericano conocido como Harlem Renaissance.
Bentley nació en Filadelfia, Pensilvania, hija de América George L. Bentley y su esposa, natural de Trinidad, Mary Mote.
En la década de los veinte debutó en uno de los locales más conocidos del ambiente gay de Harlem, llamado "Clam House", que como otros locales vendía alcohol violando la Ley Seca, estos locales eran conocidos como speakeasy, speakeasies, en plural. En los años treinta actuaba, con sus 130 kilos y vistiendo smoking blanco y sombrero de copa), junto a un coro de travestis. Cantaba letras escabrosas con música de canciones populares, mientras coqueteaba con las mujeres del público. A veces se presentaba con el nombre de Bobby Minton.
Con el fin de la Ley Seca que provocó el cierre de muchos locales speakeasy, se trasladó al sur de California. Fue a menudo objeto de hostigamiento por llevar ropa de los hombres. Ella declaraba haberse casado con una mujer blanca en Atlantic City.

Bentley que se declaró lesbiana desde los inicios de su carrera, pero durante la Era McCarthy, empezó a usar vestidos, y estudió para ser predicador, declarando haber sido "curada" con hormonas femeninas.
Murió, de 52 años de edad, de neumonía en 1960.

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