‘Butch Lesbians of the 50s, 60s, and 70s Coloring Book’ Edited by Avery Cassell and John Macy
Author: Cathy Camper
April 18, 2018
Following in the footsteps of the very popular Butch Lesbians of the 20s, 30s, and 40s Coloring Book, this sequel is just as remarkable as its predecessor. One glance at the cover and I squealed with joy…. Yes! There was Cherifa, Jane Bowles’s Moroccan girl friend, drawn by Avery Cassell. Visual artist Zeph Fish memorializes writer Louise Fitzhugh dressed as her memorable character, Harriet the Spy! blues Singer Gladys Bentley is resplendent in tux and top hat drawn by Phoebe Kobabe, and Tyler Cohen’s portrait of novelist Jane Rule frames the writer in front of a background of horses and cactus. Dorian Katz’ s tribute to the Bay area printer, artist, writer, and activist Kris Kovick, captures Kovick’s wiry energy, while Jennifer Camper (my sister) honors Stormé DeLarverie important role in the Stonewall Rebellion. Flipping through the pages made me ache to get out my crayons and color the pages right on the PDF of my computer screen!
If you don’t recognize all these butches, no worries, the entertaining and educational biographies by Avery Cassell at the back of the book will elucidate you (and there’s references included, if you want to further your research). For example, you might not remember all of her monikers, but once you read her story, you won’t forget Joe Carstairs, aka Marion Barbara Carstairs, aka The Queen of Whale Cay. Her bio explains: “By her 20s, she was a tattooed, out, dyke speed boat racer, with a string of glamorous and powerful femme exes, including Dolly Wilde, Greta Garbo, Tallulah Bankhead, and Marlene Dietrich.” Even better, it continues, “Her constant companion was a leather doll named Lord Tod Wadley, who she outfitted in tiny bespoke suits and Italian slippers, and who was cremated with Joe when Joe died at age 93.” Drawn by Jon Macy, Joe looks like a handsome sailor, her biceps sporting a host of bold tattoos.
This collection, like the first, is inclusive of many different ethnicities and ages. I loved learning about Adrienne Fuzee and her connection to the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, which are included in Dorian Katz’s striking portrait of her. She was the Director of the Artist-in-Residence Program there, and was one of the few out and black curators back in the 1970s.
There are also group and couple portraits, giving important visibility to butch love and friendship, which in the past, was forced to remain hidden. Even better, some enigmatic anonymous pictures are included too. We don’t know who these butches were, but their images speak to us. Artist Maia Kabobe’s drawing of an anonymous demonstrator will rivet you, grabbing you from off the page, with her powerful gaze and strong beauty.
You will of course want to scoop up multiples of this book for graduation and birthday gifts, but don’t forget to get one for yourself. Throw a coloring party for your friends, then in June, decorate your house with all these vibrant portraits just in time to welcome in Gay Pride.
Butch Lesbians of the 50s, 60s, and 70s Coloring Book
Edited by Avery Cassell and Jon Macy
Biographies written by Avery Cassell
Forward and back cover text by Sasha T Goldberg
Stacked Deck Press
Paperback, 9780997048797, 73 pp