lesbian pulp and the lavender universe: June 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mona's Club 440, San Francisco's First Lesbian Bar

Mona's Club 440 was San Francisco's first lesbian bar and most likely first in the USA. In 1934 Mona Sargent originally opened the bar on Union Street as a bohemian hangout for artists and writers. By the time the nightclub moved to 440 Broadway in 1939, Mona's had become a mecca for lesbians, transgenders and male impersonators. 

Shown above standing (l to r): "Butch"Minton, Jan Jansen, Kay Scott, Jimmy Renard. Seated: (l to r): "Mike," Beverly Shaw, unidentified, "Mickey".

Napkin from Mona's "Where Girls will be Boys"
One of the most loved performers was Gladys Bentley, sometimes called “The Brown Bomber” who often created raunchy lyrics to well known songs and flirted with all the women in the audience. Along with Bentley's growing popularity also came financial success and she eventually married her female lover from New Jersey.
Gladys Bentley advertised on Mona's banner.

Gladys Bentley
Mona's Club 440 lead the way for many other lesbian bars and nightclubs to open in the South Beach area. The 1940s and 1950s brought the Paper Doll, the Chi-Chi Club, the Tin Angel and Miss Smith's Tea Room plus many others.

Mona’s, San Francisco, 1945. (l to r): Kay Scott, Butch Minton, Jimmy Renard. 

Mona's old location (shown on a recent map)

For more on Gladys Bentley and other lesbian performers of the 1930 see my other post:

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