Why would patrons at Rita Wanstrom’s Roaring 60s bar at 2305 S. Shepherd Dr. — just north of Fairview — regularly retreat to the bathroom to put their pants on backwards? In the late 1980s, the site of the nightspot, along with a few neighboring buildings, was replaced with the Shepherd Place office tower pictured above (an enterprise that reportedly bankrupted former governor John Connolly and a few other investors in the project). But back in the uh, roaring sixties, the bar was a famed lesbian hangout — subject to regular police raids focused on female zipper placement.
Beginning about a minute and three-quarters into the above just-released preview clip from an upcoming local documentary focusing on the life and times of Ray Hill, the longtime LGBT activist and Prison Show founder provides a glimpse into Houston’s gay-bar scene in the pre-Stonewall era. New media collective Proud Pony International plans to release a half-hour-or-so version of ‘The Trouble with Ray’ in the coming months and use it to raise funds for further work on the project, which will include more on Houston’s gay history. On the schedule for a proposed full-length movie version: an interview with Mayor Parker, who led the city’s first Pride parade back in 1979.
- “The Trouble with Ray” [Houston’s Voice]