History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

 
Wildwood
Location: 1430 W. Walnut Ave., MILWAUKEE

Opened:
Closed:

1949
1963
Clientele:

Female
Bar/ social

 

 
       
 

"Wildwood" was a women's (largely lesbian) bar located at 13th and Walnut Avenue during the 1960s.

Speaking of the clientele of Wildwood, Josie Carter, the gender nonconforming queen who led Wisconin's first LGBTQ uprising, said, "The women at the Wildwood were huge, mean old Amazons. They were the original bull dykes. They'd fight truck drivers in the street outside the bar. They'd ask, 'Is this man bothering you?' And if he was, they'd throw him, literally pick him up and throw him, out the front door."

Another Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project contributor remembers, "My date and I kept getting cat called by an old drunk man at the bar. One of the regulars said, 'knock it off or you’ll be sorry.' He asked her, 'Yeah? What are you going to do?' So this woman goes into the bathroom, returns with the ceramic toilet tank cover, and smashes it over his head. And then she said, 'who’s sorry now?'"

"This sets a tone for exactly how rough and dangerous womens bars were before liberation," said this Project's Curator, Michail Takach. He included 'Wildwood' as one of the groundbreaking lesbian bars featured on the 4th episode of the "Be Seen" radio podcast series.

Takach also has documented "German's Wildwood" as a butch lesbian bar only-- men were not welcome, but drag queens were(!) No photos are known, and the building no longer exists. (This had to be a remarkably rough area back then, because everything was bulldozed in a 1960s urban renewal project.)

More information about this business is welcomed from anyone who can contribute it.

 

Credits: seb site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Major information contributed by Michail Takach.
Last updated: June-2022.

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