Many of the donated images in our Historic Image Archive were received with little identifying information. We often think, who are these people? Where is this location? When was this picture taken? Sometimes we figure it out all on our own, like this one. Other times, it’s a bit more difficult, as in this case where we had to figure out both the time and location of the original photo. We also rely on you and other members of the general public to email us information that we would never know.
Figuring out the mysteries can be challenging and fun (and a bit frustrating when they remain mysteries). And today we need your help as we explore our Jillian Jonas collections to try and identify some of the performers. Her two collections (Part I here, Part II here) focus on drag and performances in the 1990s, including at the legendary boy bar, Pyramid Club, Wigstock, the Gay Pride Festival, Jackie 60, and various other downtown nightlife and performance venues of the early-to-mid 1990s.
While many of Jonas’s photos capture well-known performers such as Randella, Varla Jean Merman, and Hedda Lettuce, many are harder to identify (at least for us!). Please help us identify these performers!
Jillian Jonas was the house photographer at the legendary boy bar on St. Mark’s Place in the mid-1990s, where she captured thousands of images of drag performers who mixed gender-bending and illusion with a downtown in-your-face attitude.
Jonas’s pictures capture a golden age of LGBTQ+ nightlife and performance, as well as an edgy slice of life when drag and blurred boundaries of gender were just beginning to make inroads into the broader public consciousness, largely through this vibrant local scene.