a chicken, a drag and 96
James A. Landau
JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Fri Sep 19 14:18:28 UTC 2003
On Thu, 11 Sep 2003 12:08:15, George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
>This was a series of stories in the LATimes from November 14, 1914 and
after. The >headline to the original story was:
>LONG BEACH UNCOVERS "SOCIAL VAGRANT" CLAN.
>Thirty Men Heavily Fined or Given County-jail Sentences -- Church and
Business >men Included in List of Guilty Ones who, Police Say They Have Evidence to
Show, >were Organized for Immoral Purposes. [from the story:] Officers Warren
and Brown >say that Lowe unfolded to them before his arrest a story of the
existence of a >society of "social vagrants," called the "606," whose members
were all men and >who met weekly. *** At the functions of this peculiar
society all the members, on >arriving, changed street clothes for kimonos, silk
underware and hosiery, and some >wore women's wigs. The members made up with
powder and paint as for the stage, >according to the recital by the officers, and
the orgies were attented by at least fifty >at each meeting.
>Los Angeles Times, November 14, 1914, section II, p. 8 I do not find
"social >vagrant" in the on-line OED.
>[A police officer testifies:] [Lowe] came [into the room] again, while I
was lying on >the bed. He asked me if I had ever heard of the Six-O-Six Club
and the Ninety-six >Club. I said I had not. He said that the Ninety-six Club
was the best; that it was >composed of the 'queer' people, that got together
every week. I asked Lowe why >they called it the Ninety-six Club, and he said
someting about turning the letters >around, before and behind. He said that
the members sometimes spent hundreds >of dollars on silk gowns, hosiery, etc.,
in which they dressed at sessions of this >club. He said that at these 'drags'
the 'queer' people have a good time, but no one >could get in without being
introduced by a member in good standing.
M-W, both 10th and 11th Collegiates, dates "606" as 1910. "606" is one of
the names of the drug arsphenamine, the first drug specific against
syphilis---it refers to it being the 606th drug tested for activity against syphilis.
Is it possible that this group of transvestites named their organization "The
M-W 10 and 11 both date "sixty-nine" as from 1924. In an apparent violation
of policy, the first sense is for the number but the 1924 date refers to the
second sense, that of mutual oral-genital sex. In any case, you have an
indirect antedating, via the reversal to "96", of the sexual meaning of "69".
In 1969 (of course) I saw a book in which mutual oral-genital sex (in this
case, between women) was referred to not as "sixty-nine" but by the French term
"soixante-neuf". Is the French term widely used in English? (Perhaps among
lesbians?) Or (my suspicion) was the author trying to add a high-brow tone to
what was really a piece of pornography?
>HDAS has "drag", noun, 4b, "Homosex., a party held for transvestites and
male >homosexuals", with quotations from 1927 (2), 1930, 1933, &c. It has
"ninety-six", >"Homosex., homosexual anal intercourse", with quotations from 1925,
1949, and >"1947-51". The 1949 passage reads "California term for reciprocal
I find it difficult to believe that "reciprocal anal intercourse" is
- James A. Landau
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