Houston's Earliest Gay Scenes (Part 2)

Part two in a series for gay pride week.

It didn't take Ron Levine and partners like the club-savvy Gene Howle long to turn the new Palace into a hot spot. In October, 1970, the private club -- private meaning mixed drinks were available and entry could be controlled -- hosted a drag pageant that is still remembered fondly by those in the know. This was three years prior to national and state drag competitions forming in 1974.

Rusty Walker, bass player for popular local band Sound Investment, remembers the Palace well. Shortly after Houston Press reported in early May about the demolition of the building, the top floor of which was home to a series of popular night clubs -- Top of the Mark, the Palace, Cody's and Sky Bar -- Walker forwarded: a yellowed color photo of what appeared at first glance to be a woman in a stunning red, white, and blue outfit.

See also: Looking Back at Some of the Hurdles Houston's Gay Community Had to Overcome (Part I)

But Walker explained that the photo was "the winner of the Halloween drag pageant at the Palace Club."

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