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Longtime Drag Venue Near Loop Closing, Moving North To Uptown

December 04, 2018 - 7:59 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- It was almost 50 years ago when The Baton Show Lounge opened in a seedy neighborhood. Now that neighborhood is anything but seedy, and the club's founder is stepping down and the show is moving north to Uptown.

"Back then, it was so shady in that area nobody would come down,” said Jim Flint, 77, who opened the club in 1969 in River North.

"We sat there for a month and a half, nobody at the bar. So, I asked a couple of my friends, I said, 'Why don't we throw a drag show in?’"

Flint said they improvised a stage.

“We got 16 beer cases, put a piece of curtain around them, put up a curtain, got a spotlight and all of a sudden. From then, it went on and on."

The drag show eventually transformed into a glamorous female-impersonation showcase.

Flint said early next year, others are taking over. He'll be an advisor after the Baton leaves 436 Clark Street, which has become part of a high-rent district.

"It's been a dream, for a poor boy from Peoria who grew up in public housing with 13 brothers and sisters. It was a dream,” Flint said.