Dante's Inferno Nightclub

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Object Type: 
Periodicals

Issue of the anti-corruption, Kansas City-based newspaper, Future: The Newsweekly for Today.

Object Type: 
Photographs

Interior of speakeasy/nightclub Dante's Inferno, once located at 1104 Independence Avenue. This photograph was taken circa 1934 by Kaufman Photo Studio, Kansas City, Missouri. Source: Ida Minturn.

Object Type: 
Ephemera

Menu cover, ca. 1934, of speakeasy/nightclub Dante's Inferno, once located at 1104 Independence Avenue. Dante, nude women, and snakes are depicted as part of the nightclub's logo. Source: Ida Minturn.

Object Type: 
Photographs

The Half and Half entertainer, half man and half woman, posed for full-length portrait at Dante's Inferno in Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. Half-and-Half would regularly perform there as a singer, comedian, and impersonator, ca. 1935. Source: Ida Minturn.

Author: 
Stuart Hinds
University of Missouri – Kansas City

During the 1890-1930 heyday of vaudeville, a number of female impersonators enjoyed impressive, successful careers and became household names across the country. Even during 1920s Prohibition, the tradition expanded into nightclubs and cabarets and drew enormous crowds in large cities like New York and Chicago. American entertainment tastes started to become more conservative, repressive oversight of liquor consumption followed Prohibition’s 1933 repeal, and female impersonation almost immediately disappeared from “legitimate” and cabaret stages throughout the United States. But in wide-open Pendergast-era Kansas City, female impersonators remained popular until the late 1930s.

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.