A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 30, 2018
Circuit Queen

A person frequenting the gay circuit is called a “circuit queen.” The “bird circuit” was the name for Manhattan’s gay bars in the East 50s (dating from the 1950s), but the “circuit queen” term is still used today, long after the end of the “bird circuit” in the 1960s.
“NYC circuit queens” was posted in the newsgroup soc.motss on January 31, 1992, but the term is surely much older.
Google Groups: soc.motss
Greg Parkinson
|> There are lots of responses lately to other threads saying
|> there is no such thing as a “gay community”; we are made up
|> of many different individuals, groups of people bound by
|> common interests, ethnicity, language, religion, sexual taste,
|> etc.  Those groups include the NYC circuit queens as described
|> above. 
Google BOoks
Something Inside:
Conversations with Gay Fiction Writers

By Philip Gambone
Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
Pg. 173:
What is, or was, a “circuit queen”?
A circuit queen was, and I think still is, a gay man who followed a certain pattern of life in New York, which is where I lived. And it included Fire Island in the summer, it included a certain gay gym in the winter, baths, and certain dance clubs. And it was unrelenting, and it was very definite, and claustrophobic, I think.
Google Books
‘Don We Now Our Gay Apparel’:
Gay Men’s Dress in the Twentieth Century

By Shaun Cole
Oxford, UK: Bloomsbury Academic
Pg. 726:
However, the reality of the bear culture was an embracing of the diversity of body type, a move away from the homogenisation of the gay body into what is described as the ‘circuit queen’ or ‘muscle mary.’
10 June 2001, San Francisco (CA) Chronicle, “Gay film festival personal touch” by Wesley Morris, Datebook sec., pg. 38, col.
The film’s torn the roof off enough events to (Pg. 39, col. 1—ed.) qualify as a circuit queen.
(Hedwig and the Angry Inch.—ed.)
Google Books
A Dictionary of Polari & Gay Slang

By Paul Baker
London, UK: Continuum
Pg. 98:
circuit queen  noun: gay man who lives for the circuit.
6 September 2002, Boston (MA) Globe, “Movie Review: ‘Circuit’ an endless cycle of cliches on gay scene” by Christopher Muther, pg. C6, cols. 4-5:
There’s a devious heterosexual (played by onetime “Greatest American Hero” William Katt) who profits off gay men, the straight woman (Kiersten Warren) who loves gay men, a home wrecker, a new agey DJ, and an HIV-positive circuit queen who spends his spare time whipping up more Special K than Kellogg’s.
Urban Dictionary
Circuit Queen
A gay man, usually between the ages of 30 and death, who frequents circuit parties in large cities (often named after a color, as in “the white party”). Typically identical both physically and intellectually to the other 3,000 circuit queens in attendance. Difficult to determine exact age due to the counteracting effects of tina, botox, X, Viagra, Rogaine, steroids, the tanning bed, plastic surgery, and Xanax. Usually associates and/or mates exclusively with others of its sub-species.
That tired old circuit queen is 30 but looks 50 in the daylight.
by Urban_Wordsmith February 26, 2005
Google Books
Our Caribbean:
Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles

By Thomas Glave
Durham, NC: Duke University Press
Pg. 366:
Circuit queen is an appellation given to some drag queens known for performing at large (2,000 men or more), all-night dance parties across North America and other parts of the world. The term can also refer to gay men who exclusively attend such parties.
A Week in New York in 1946
The East Side Gay Scene in 1946
A string of gay bars along Third Avenue with ornithological names known to patrons collectively as “the bird circuit” gave rise to the term “circuit queen” which lasted for decades after the bars were gone. Did these bars exist in 1946? I can find no definitive evidence. Perhaps the middle class gay community was more circumspect in the 1940s than Remarque portrayed. Or maybe it is simply that the young gay men of the 1950s East Side, who were only in early middle-age when gay history began to be written in the 1970s, were more willing to share their stories than their elders. This particular segment of the gay world did not talk openly about such things back in their day. 
Posted 22nd January 2011 by Bill Bence

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWorkers/People • Sunday, December 30, 2018 • Permalink

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