Profile: Ethyl 'Ricci Cortez' Bronson
That was the first girls’ gay bar in the city of Houston, and it got raided a few times. … A lot of the girls in slacks and pants had been hauled off to jail in the raids. They even put me in handcuffs and carried me out to the police car. In my own bar! This is what we went through to get open bars, open gay bars.
Subject: Ethyl “Ricci Cortez” Bronson
Date of Birth: November 1924
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, NY
Age at Interview: 84
Date of Interview: February 14, 2008
Interviewer: Arden Eversmeyer
Place of Interview: Houston, TX
Transcriber: M. Dahl
Length of Transcript: original, 23 pages; OCR text, 19 pages ~ 7600 words
Contract Dated: 02/14/2008
Support documents: 30 pages; copies of photos, playbills, articles
After having been raised partially in an orphanage, partially as a foster child and partially by her father and stepmother, Ricci (born Ethyl) was fiercely independent by the time she was 18. Having worked as a waitress in a bar where strippers performed, Ricci didn’t hesitate for long before answering an ad for a well-paying job as an exotic dancer. That was the beginning of a life-long career that took her all over the country and led her to being inducted into the Burlesque Hall of Fame. After a very short marriage, Ricci became involved in a serious relationship with a woman that lasted ten years. In her next relationship, she and her partner opened and ran the first gay girls bar in Houston. Ricci continued to perform for special occasions into her early 80s.