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Mona’s 440 Club – dancing at the Lesbian Bar

Found, folded into an American thriller from the Donald Rudd collection of detective fiction, this napkin - a memento of Mona's 440 Club generally credited as being the first lesbian bar in the United States -'Where Girls Will be Boys.'

James R. Smith's San Francisco's Lost Landmarks (2004) says the following about Mona's:

Mona's 440 Club was another [club] that took advantage of the city's tolerance and tourism. Opening in a Columbus Street basement in North Beach in 1936, Mona Sargeant's tavern quickly hit the travelsheets as a place "where girls will be boys." The first openly lesbian club, Mona's female waiters and performers wore tuxedos and patrons dressed their roles. Within a couple of years, Mona's moved to 440 Broadway and took the address as part of the club's new name, Mona's 440 Club. Great entertainment, first local and later national talent, made a night at Mona's an event.

At Mona's in the 1940s

Straights loved the opportunity to rub elbows with openly gay patrons, posing for pictures with them when possible. Gladys Bently, the great African-American cross dressing diva, sang the blues to an enthusiastic audience during the World War II years. Known alternatively as "America's Great Sepia Piano Artist" and the "Brown Bombshell of Sophisticated Song, " the 250-pound Bently exuded sexuality. Mona's introduced a generation to the lesbian lifestyle in a proud manner.

After 26 years, Mona's was closed and replaced by Ann's 440 Club at the same location... [mid 1950s] More good info in this pieceĀ Before the Castro: North Beach, a Gay Mecca

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