Casa Susanna was a secret resort for gender non-conformists within the Nineteen Sixties | Boing Boing

Casa Susanna was a secret resort for gender non-conformists in the 1960s | Boing Boing


In a type of triumphant tales that reaffirms each junk hound’s everlasting quest for treasures, antiques supplier Robert Swope and his accomplice Michel Hurst stumbled throughout a set of pictures at a flea market that exposed an underground group within the Catskills that will have in any other case remained a secret eternally. The early ’60s images featured vacationers who have been assigned male at delivery, wearing female frocks at a summer season resort within the nation. What struck Swope was the naturalism of the photographs. This wasn’t camp or drag, however individuals who have been gender non-conforming – queer, trans, heterosexual, or in any other case – who discovered a secure haven to specific their femininity.

Casa Susanna was based and managed by Susanna Valenti, typically generally known as Tito, and her spouse Maria, who additionally owned a profitable wig retailer in NYC. Their resort was designed to be a sanctuary for cross-dressing, thought of a perversion and largely unlawful on the time. Folks from the town who lived typical lives, escaped to Casa Susanna for an opportunity to stay freely as girls for both a weekend or a complete summer season. The prolonged keep company typically took ending faculty lessons from Susanna, studying how one can conceal a 5 o’clock shadow or grasp strolling in pumps.

A lot of the details about Susanna and the resort got here from {a magazine} known as Tranvestia (1960 – 1980), revealed by resort customer Virginia Value, who gave Valenti her personal column. Tranvestia additionally first revealed most of the images taken by Andrea Susan, often known as Jack Mallick, the official resort photographer. It was these very pictures that have been later unearthed by Swope and Hurst.

Swope and Hurst compiled and revealed the unique pictures (uncredited) as a coffee table book, which went on to encourage a play known as Casa Valentina, written by Harvey Fierstein.

Although current exterior a binary might have solely entered mainstream dialog in recent times, it is necessary to find and protect historical past like Casa Susanna, to underscore that gender has at all times existed on a spectrum, throughout timelines and cultures.



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