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Wink and Whisper: the Guild’s 2015 benefit party

05/17/2015 @ 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

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Click here to buy tickets!

The Guild Complex is re-imagining the 1920s through music, song, comedy, and dance in our sixth annual benefit, Wink & Whisper: A 1920s LGBT Cabaret.

Emceed by Tamale Sepp, this year’s benefit will celebrate the vibrant spirit and culture of a 1920s LGBT community with a fusion of talented performers, Vallery Dolls, Switch the Boi Wonder, Dirty Devlin, and Toni Asante Lightfoot (as Jackie “Moms” Mabley), compelling readings by Coya Paz, historical observations with Jennifer Brier, and the jazz of Chicago Diamond Trio. The evening will conclude with a DJ dance party with Reaganomix (of FKA).

Uptown Underground main stage piano
The main stage at Uptown Underground.

The benefit will take place at the dynamic new venue Uptown Underground (4707 N Broadway)—rumored to be a former Capone speakeasy. In addition to entertainment, there will be a selection of complimentary cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres provided by Vincent Restaurant, Crew Bar + Grill, and Pastoral. The program is open to the public (ages 18 and older), and the venue is easily accessible by public transportation and car [MAP].

There will also be a costume contest, so come as you are, or come in your finest Roaring Twenties glad rags! Prizes will be awarded to the best dressed.

Advanced tickets are available now at www.wink-and-whisper.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets begin at $35 for students and $75 for the general public. If you would like to purchase tickets by mail, click here to download the RSVP form and instructions.


Chicago Whispers book cover
Our event inspiration!

Wink & Whisper is inspired by Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall, by St. Sukie de la Croix (The University of Wisconsin Press, 2010). Women & Children First Bookstore will be on hand to sell copies of Chicago Whispers, as well as select related titles. And we will be providing a few copies as prizes!

Click here to buy your tickets now!

Doors open at 6:00 pm. Purchase Premium or Choice tickets for reserved seating, or purchase general admission tickets and plan to arrive early for best available seating. All proceeds benefit the programs of the Guild Literary Complex.

Here’s the program schedule for Wink & Whisper:

  • 6-7 p.m. Chicago Diamond Trio
  • 7-8:30 p.m. Main show
  • 9 p.m.-midnight After-glow dance party with DJ Reaganomix (FKA)

All ticket prices include admission to the after party starting at 9 p.m., and we also have a special admission for the dance party only.

We look forward to seeing you! If you have any questions, please email info@guildcomplex.org.

Click here to buy tickets!



TamaleHeadshotMustacheTamale Sepp (emcee) is a multi-disciplinary performer, she explores gender performance as a drag king and through burlesque, expresses herself through fire performance, and tribal belly dance, and curates mixed media and installation art pieces. Traveling internationally for over a decade with the group she co-produces, The Windy City Blenders, Tamale has been the International Guest of Honor for The Dublin Lesbian Arts Festival and performed across Ireland, Italy, Germany, Canada, and Mexico. Combining her love of art and performance, Tamale also created and co-produces Tiny Hat Time, a storytelling show that is based on the creation of an artistic tiny hat and the stories that are created in response. Driving her motorcycle from gig to gig inspired the creation of Bikes and Mics, a community of riders who ride, see shows, have adventures, and build memories. No Patches. No dues. Just fun!


Nick Sula headshotNick Sula (piano) is a pianist, composer, arranger, and award-winning music director for theatre and cabaret. Theatre credits include Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, Porchlight Music Theatre, Chicago Opera Vanguard, and Light Opera Works, and Nick has received the Joseph Jefferson Citation for music direction. His compositions and arrangements have been performed on stage and on national television. He is an active member of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals organization, and currently performs as arranger/pianist for his vocal group, With a Twist, and as music director for WOZ, a rock/pop retelling of the Wizard of Oz. Nick performs solo and accompanies cabaret performers at venues in and around Chicago. He performs regularly with cabaret artist Scott Gryder, and can be heard every Tuesday night in Nick Sula’s Spotlight at the Uptown Underground. www.nicksula.com


Chicago Diamond Trio (med)Chicago Diamond Trio is a diverse jazz trio with an impeccable reputation for providing quality live entertainment receiving a 4-Star review in Downbeat Magazine  w/ members hailing from the best in music today including Lupe Fiasco, Hey Champ, Vandermark 5, Chicago Afrobeat Project, Bobby Broom and more! As the #1 Rated Jazz Band in IL and Chicagoland, the Chicago Diamond Trio’s music, client list, and reviews speak for themselves! They were the 2013 Chicago Music Award Winner in the “Best Jazz Entertainer” category. Check them out at www.chicagodiamondtrio.com.


Coya PazCoya Paz is a poet, Artistic Director of Free Street Theater, and an Assistant Professor in the Theatre School at DePaul University. She is also a founding member of Proyecto Latina, and the co-founder of Teatro Luna, where she served as co-Artistic Director from 2000-2009. Recent projects include Nerds, Sluts, (Commies) and Jocks and DOPE at Free Street Theater, and The Americans, based on interviews. Coya holds a PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University and is a regular commentator on race, media, and pop culture for Vocalo.org (FM 90.7). In 2014, the Guild Complex named Coya one of 25 Writers to Watch. www.coyapaz.com


dirtydevlinfullphotoFilthy fun for old and young! The poet laureate of Vaudezilla! Burlesque, Dirty Devlin aims to please with each testosterrific tease. Devlin mixes up a soupcon of seduction, a dollop of delight, and a candyman’s chest hair to serve voracious Chicago audiences and beyond, performing poetry and striptease in 2015 at the Fierce! Queer Burlesque, New York Boylesque, Show-Me Burlesque, and Windy City Burlesque Festivals.





Jennifer BrierJennifer Brier directs the Program in Gender and Women’s Studies at UIC, where she is also an Associate Professor of GWS and the History Department. She specializes in US gay and lesbian history, the history of sexuality and gender, and public history. Brier is the author of Infectious Ideas: U.S. Political Response to the AIDS Crisis, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2009, and reissued in paperback in 2011. Between 2008 and 2011, Brier co-curated with Jill Austin Out in Chicago, the Chicago History Museum’s award winning exhibition on LGBT history in Chicago. She and Austin also co-edited an anthology that accompanied the exhibition and wrote the introductory essay entitled, “Out in Chicago: Exhibiting LGBT History at the Crossroads.”


Reaganomix (Ali McDonald of FKA)Reaganomix (Ali McDonald) got their start DJ’ing as co-host of Think Pink, a radio show on WLUW fm in 2003. As an extension of the show, Ali and co-host Erik Roldan launched Fruit, Chicago’s first recurring dance party specifically for the queer community. Since then, Ali’s been filling dance floors across the city with genre smashing sets of booty bass, nu-disco and classic soul inspired sounds. Ali is currently a co-organizer and resident DJ of Formerly Known As (FKA), a monthly queer dance party at Uptown’s Big Chicks bar.


Switch poster performingSwitch the Boi Wonder, originally from Minneapolis, has been performing on and off for the last 15 years with the likes of Dykes Do Drag, the longest running drag show in the country! Switch was voted Drag King Minnesota 2010 and is best known as the gender bending dynamo that is easy on the Boi, Heavy on the Wonder.




Toni Asante Lightfoot 2Toni Asante Lightfoot is a founding member of the Modern Urban Griots, a performance poetry group that was just honored with a Splendid Wake Award from George Washington University in Washington, DC. She has coached several poetry slam teams over the past 15 years, and her 2003 Gwendolyn Brooks Center team won Brave New Voices National Teen Poetry Slam in 2003. Since her 2005 fellowship at Soul Mountain in Connecticut, Lightfoot has been researcing and writing poems/vignettes about Mom’s Mabley’s life as a vaudevillian, actress, and as a comedian who came out to her audience in her 70’s.


Vallery Dolls photo by MC NewmanBorn out of the dusty parking lots and seedy backrooms of this fair city, Vallery Dolls has made a home for herself here in Chicago. This loud-mouthed lady of song can belt it all out, from show tunes and standards, to the likes of Tom Waits, Radiohead and Leonard Cohen. Vallery Dolls can be seen the first Friday of the month right here at Uptown Underground appearing in “Muffy and Vallery Sing”. She can also be found in her one woman show “Ladyparts” at Davenport’s Piano Bar on Friday May 22nd. Here she is, the Baritone Bombshell with a heart of gold and a throat to match. Just sit back, relax, and open your hearts and your trousers for the First “Lady” of the Chicago stage… Vallery Dolls!




Sukie de la CroixSt. Sukie de la Croix is an internationally published journalist, columnist, fiction author, playwright, and photographer. In Chicago, he has written for Outlines, Windy City Times, Nightlines, Nightspots, Chicago Free Press, and Gay Chicago. As a historian, de la Croix has published dozens of articles about Chicago’s gay history, scripted and acted as tour guide on the Chicago Neighborhood Tours’ gay history bus, and is the author of “Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall.”




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6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
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Uptown Underground
4707 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640 United States
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