A selection of videos from Special Collections


Daniel Lee’s documentary Tillie profiles Tillie “The Dirty Old Lady of Chicago” who was a prolific drag queen in Chicago during the 1960s and 1970s. The film including Tillie recounting experiences with bar raids in the early 1960s and one of Tillie’s later performances as Sophie Tucker. The film celebrates Tillie and the contributions the performer made to the early drag scene in Chicago. (2001).

Mr Gay Indiana 1987

Filmed at Club 21 in Indianapolis on April 17, 1987 and was the second annual contest.. Formal wear, swim wear, interview, and talent segments were included. The winner, Brad Bemis went on to win Mr Gay America.

85% Coalition’s 2001 action and arrest

85% Coalition’s 2001 action and arrest at the Illinois Statehouse related to “sexual orientation” being included in the Illinois Human Rights Act. This video was used as evidence to show that the protesters did not resist arrest.

Mr. Bulldog Road 1990

Mr. Bulldog Road Contest 1990, hosted by RJ Chaffin. This was a feeder contest to the Mr. Windy City contest.

Herstory Storytelling 2

Lesbian Herstory Storytelling Night at Mountain Moving Coffeehouse (September 12, 1992): 10 women telling stories about things beyond love and relationships that sustain them. Stories are set in the areas of bars, coffee houses, women’s music festivals, girl scouts, Catholic school, and lesbian publishing.

Bar Wars 1984

A Family Feud formatted game between staff of different LGBTQ bars in Chicago coordinated by the Tavern Guild of Chicago. Bars competed for the benefit of community organizations. Bars in this episode include The Closet, The Gold Coast, Carol’s Speakeasy, Piggen’s Pub, Opal Station and Touche. Question display places and things that were popular in 1985 and include things like how many times per month do you dance and location on the body for piercings. Note: an intermission drag performance was cut due to copyright concerns of the song used.

Mr. Bulldog Road Contest 1988

Mr. Bulldog Road Contest 1988 with performance by the Bearded Lady. This was a feeder contest to the Mr. Windy City contest. Some of the contest questions highlight the social, political, and health concerns in 1988.

Herstory Storytelling 1

Lesbian Herstory Storytelling Night at Mountain Moving Coffeehouse (September 7, 1991): 12 women telling accounts from their personal lives including: a first lesbian relationship while in nursing school in the 1940s, initial lesbian relationships and living as a lesbian while in high school in the early 1960s, discrimination against black lesbian at gay and lesbian bars in the late 1970s, first love affair in high school in 1948, being on a national talk show as a homosexual in the early 1970s, lesbian life in Alaska in the late 1960s, being in a lesbian band in 1970s, and other accounts of community, social, and political lesbian life in Chicago in the 1970s.

Body by Soloflex

Body by Soloflex (1985) features Scott Madsen and is considered to be the first infomercial. Many view it to have a homoerotic tone. Scott Madsen gained notoriety as a Solofex model. The women who also appears in the video did not.