An Episcopal minister. 41 naval recruits. A zealous newspaper editor. A pandemic. A drag show. A beanstalk. The YMCA. A future president of the United States.
At the close of World War I, the US Navy sparked a national scandal after news broke about an undercover operation to stamp out “immoral acts” in Newport, Rhode Island. Dozens of sailors and civilian men were implicated in this covert raid on Newport’s gay scene. Meanwhile, the Navy was also producing a lavish production of Jack and the Beanstalk, touring the show around New England to drum up support and entice young men to enlist. The show featured a 25-piece orchestra and a cast of over 100, with quite a few Navy men performing in drag.
Join interdisciplinary artists Jason Tranchida and Matthew Lawrence for a fascinating talk that uncovers a little-known facet of Naval culture in 1919 Newport. Focused on the US Navy’s use of musical theater as a marketing tool, they’ll also touch on music of the era, the Jack and the Beanstalk story, a brief history of Vaudeville, and how all this material relates to Tranchida’s and Lawrence’s larger, multi-year project Scandalous Conduct / Newport 1919.