Jackie Curtis and Slugger Ann

Jackie Curtis and Slugger Ann

Jackie Curtis made the most of the radical shifts happening downtown in the 1960s, when bohemians escaped rising rents in Greenwich Village by moving eastward. A Lower East Side slum kid, he was raised in a quasi-criminal atmosphere by a grandmother, known as Slugger Ann, and an aunt, Josephine Preston. Slugger Ann, who owned a bar with the same name, earned her nickname after working as a taxi dancer in a Times Square dance hall. Slugger Ann’s was a dimly lit Lower East Side corner bar with a few tables. One could find a cross section of low society and working people there, mostly truck drivers and laborers who would stop in for shots and beer. “Jackie really grew up in the bar,” said Melba LaRose, the star of Jackie Curtis’s first play, Glamour, Glory, and Gold: The Life and Times of Nola Noon, Goddess and Star. “Slugger Ann was a great old babe, loudmouthed. She obviously had been a beauty in her day, a sexy beauty. Bleached hair, and a feisty personality, great fun. And Jackie’s aunt Josie was great fun, too.” Slugger Ann would sometimes have a half dozen Chihuahuas stuffed inside her low-cut dress, propped up by her enormous breasts. Jackie sometimes tended the bar in jeans and a white T‑shirt with a cigarette pack rolled up in a sleeve, and other times in a shredded dress. “It wasn’t a gay crowd or a drag queen crowd, but sometimes Jackie was tending bar in drag,” LaRose said. “But if any customers would have said anything about Jackie, Slugger Ann would have punched them out. She was very protective of Jackie.”

From Chapter 17 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Slugger Ann's
192 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003