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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gladys "Fatso" Bentley - "Them There Eyes"

An inquiry from an Austin, TX PBS station on sources for the Juneteenth Jamboree episode I did way back in July 2000 and 6 had me thinking about Gladys "Fatso" Bentley again.

As I mentioned back in Episode 6, "Fatso's" - whose Juneteenth Jamboree Dylan played on the Summer episode of TTRH - real name was Gladys, and she was described in various reports as a bull dagger lesbian and/or male impersonator singer.

Bentley was one of the stars of Harlem during the 1920s, performing at speakeasies and gay hangouts such as the Clam House, once described in the press as "not [a place] for the innocent young."

Bentley eventually moved to California, where she sang in lesbian bars around Los Angeles and San Francisco, and in 1950 made guest appearances on Groucho Marx's TV show, You Bet Your Life. The following link - or clicking on the image - (embedding of the video was disabled, unfortunately) will take you to a most wonderful clip of one of Bentley's You Bet Your Life performances, as she plays a barrelhouse version of Them There Eyes, while Groucho and a "charming lad from Guatemala" dance away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can rent "You bet your life: Best Episodes". On the first disc, the first guest is Gladys Bentley, and she performs, "Them there eyes" A definite taste of Harlem for those who are interested.