For years, Eric Wynn was the only Black drag queen at Club 219 in Milwaukee. He performed as Erica Stevens, singing Whitney Houston, Grace Jones and Tina Turner for adoring fans, eventually earning the title of Miss Gay Wisconsin in 1986 and 1987. “I had this group of Black kids who came in because they were represented,” Wynn, now 58, said of his time at the club in the late 1980s and early ’90s. “I saw them and let them know I saw them, because they finally had representation onstage.” Among them were Eddie Smith, who was known as “the Sheikh” because he often wore a head scarf, and Anthony Hughes, who was deaf.
Hughes was “my absolute favorite fan” and blushed when Wynn winked at him from stage. In return, Hughes taught him the ABCs of sign language.
ImageEric Wynn performing as Grace Jones at Club 219.Credit...Eric Wynn “He would sit there laughing at me when I was trying to learn sign language with my big, old fake nails on,” Wynn recalled, laughing.
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