6 Did Alleysax Exist?

I wanted to include in my book some true aspects of life in the South during the early '60s that would be surprising to readers who thought they pretty much had us Dixie rubes pegged. One experience that had had a big impact on me when I was around twenty was being taken to a black after-hours club on Birmingham's fringes where gays were welcomed, even though it was not a gay club, and where whites and blacks mingled with no noticeable tensions, even though racial strife was out of control in other parts of the culture.

Since I figured that, as a plot elenment in a novel, such a fictional nightspot might provoke skepticism, I sought reassurance that my mind wasn't playing tricks on me and that such a club was really possible in the segregated South. So I placed an ad in the largest Alabama lesbian and gay newspaper describing what I remembered and asking if others could corroborate my recollection.

To my relief, I quickly received a letter giving me the name of the real-world club (which burned to the ground many years ago) on which my fictional Alleysax is based. The letter-writer also referred me to others who had tales to tell about the southern gay subculture of the '60s as it was experienced by gay men older than I am. I ended up with a wealth of colorful anecdotes to ponder, some of which found their way into Stuck Rubber Baby with scarely any modifications at all.

Notice Submitted to THE ALABAMA FORUM (Summer 1990)

Cartoonist Howard Cruse, creator of Wendel, is working on a fiction project set in Alabama during 1963-64. … Does anyone recall a straight black nightspot on the outskirts of Birmingham where gays, both black and white, were welcome in the late night hours after the Fire Pit closed for the night?...
Below: a portion of the letter elicited by my Alabama Forum ad.