A vicious relationship: a lesbian club and the black comedy "The Murder of Sister George"By Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/a-vicious-relationship-a-lesbian-club-and-the-black-comedy-the-murder-of-sister-george
Society condemns homosexual relationships. And the more he condemns, the more interesting it becomes what happens behind closed doors of institutions where meetings of people with non-traditional orientation take place. Love between two women can not only cause censure, but also inspire the writing of the most interesting works. What is the connection between a closed lesbian club and a famous movie — find out from our material.In the period from June 9 to June 16, 1968, the Portal Club (the Gateways Club) became world famous thanks to footage from the black comedy "The Murder Of Sister George" (The Killing Of Sister George). Famous actresses Beryl Reed, Coral Brown and Suzanne York played in the popular film.Dancing in the Portal club, 1953
An exciting guidebook compiled by Hunter Davies in the late 60s of the last century was called "The London Spy: A Secret Guide to the City of Pleasures" (The London Spy – A Discreet Guide To The City's Pleasures). It was first published in 1966 and consisted of two parts written specifically for gays and lesbians who came to London.Hunter Davis is one of the co-authors of a book about London gay meeting places
The first part, titled Men For Men, describes about 20 seedy places where gay men can find "a partner for the soul or for bed, avoiding the attention of fat girls with whom you flew on a charter plane numbered 747." One of these clubs was called "Gigolo" (Gigolo) and was located on King's Road, at 328 (now there is a carpet store).
The second part, called "Women for Women" (Women for Women), was written by the poet Maureen Duffy (Maureen Duffy). It mentions only one institution for lesbians — the famous Portal club. It has been located on the same Kings Road, at 239, since the early 1930s.
In 1943, the club was owned by bookmaker Ted Ware. He was on good terms with one of the lesbian companies that spent time at the club. Therefore, when he was expelled from the club, he leased his establishment to the same lesbian company. Later, his wife, actress Gina Cerrato, together with one of the regular visitors of the place of lesbian meetings, Smithy, headed the club.
The entrance fee to the club in the 60s was only 10 shillings. After 22.00, no one was allowed into the institution. Exclusion from the club was extremely undesirable for girls of non-traditional orientation, because the nearest such institution was located 80 kilometers from London, in Brighton. The Portal was the best place for lesbian meetings, because it was expensive to dine in a restaurant with a mistress, pubs were filled with drunk men, and the appearance of a woman in trousers in public places was not welcome at that time. Therefore, the place quickly became very popular among London lesbians.
The clubhouse was quite small and was hidden behind a dark green door on Bramerton Street. In the 1980s, the institution lost its popularity a little, because new places for meeting gays and lesbians were opening in London. The club started working only on weekends. In 1985, it was closed for good.
The Portal lesbian club was talked about all over the world in 1968, after the release of the black comedy "The Murder of Sister George". In the film by Robert Aldrich, shots from the institution appeared, which show the situation and the visitors themselves, including the hostesses - Gina and Smithy. After the release, most people for the first time got the opportunity to "spy" a closed lesbian subculture.
According to the script, sex was supposed to happen between the heroine Beryl Reed and her partner, but the actress could not overcome herself and go to bed with a girl.
The film "The Murder of Sister George" has shed light on the secret life of lesbian women. It shows the reality in which girls with non-traditional orientation behave like all residents of London at that time: dancing, drinking and flirting, as in any other London club.Ted Ware (far left) with clubgoers, 1953
In 2019, a new documentary "Into the Cellar" (Into the Cellar) will be released, the filming of which will be held in the legendary London lesbian club "Gateway", which has been closed for more than 30 years. The film will feature audio recordings from interviews with women who visited this institution.
The unusual always attracts. I want at least one peek behind the screen of the forbidden. Unconventional love inspired the writers to create an unusual book, and that, in turn, inspired the script of a film that excited the whole world. This is probably the great power of art - to see charm even in those things that some consider disgusting.