Lendon Sandler Travels to New York City

Lendon Sandler Travels to New York City

While the Cockettes’ shows were silly and playful, many of its members had pretty serious activist backgrounds. Lendon Sadler was born in Atlanta in 1950, and he was an active member of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. “Besides the hippies,” he said, “the Civil Rights organizers were the most inspirational movement at the time because they had so much energy.” One fateful day he was walking in his neighborhood to see MLK give a speech when two white people stopped their car to ask for directions. The driver, Ashton Jones, was an infamous pacifist who had gone to jail for not serving in World War II, and he now traveled the country with his wife and pet Chihuahua—sporting “Stop the killing in Vietnam” and other radical signs on the front of their car. After this encounter Sadler began attending antiwar demonstrations in downtown Atlanta. “When we started there, at first I was scared to death,” he said of these protests. “People in suits would save up their shit and throw it in our faces, cursing.” In 1967, Jones convinced Sadler’s mother to let him take him on a trip to New York. “One of the first places I stayed was the Catholic Worker soup kitchen in the Bowery,” Sadler recalled. “I lived in the East Village, but I hung out in the Café Wha in Greenwich Village, and of course hung out in Washington Square. I was naive, and I didn’t know anything about any of these places and then, boom, this world was opening up to me.”

From Chapter 20 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Cafe Wha?
115 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012