Bohemian Los Angeles and the Making of Modern Politics

Daniel Hurewitz, Author . Univ. of California $29.95 (367p) ISBN 978-0-520-24925-7

In this fascinating, accessible history of Los Angeles's Boho world in the first half of the 20th century, Hurewitz shows how "groups of individuals who engaged in similar activities and sought to adopt a shared self-definition" made a major social impact. Focusing on the community of Edendale, on the edge of Silver Lake Reservoir, Hunter College history professor Hurewitz begins by examining the social circle of the once world-famous drag performer Julian Eltinge and the gay male scene in the 1930s. He moves from there to Edendale's incredibly productive arts scene in the 1930s. In outlining the ties between artists, homosexuals and Communist-based community organizers in the postwar years, Hurewitz makes an intriguing and convincing case that art and politics were the perfect mix in "constructing an organized community." His book is particularly illuminating on the very public "fairy and pansy" subcultures of the 1930s and '40s and how they provoked a right-wing backlash from city government that also resulted in hysteria about a Communist menace. Hurewitz concludes with a discussion of homosexual Communist Harry Hay, who formed the first gay rights group, the Mattachine Society, in 1950. Filled with groundbreaking research, this engaging study dovetails nicely with Lillian Fademan and Stuart Timmon's recent work on Gay L.A. , and deserves its own popular readership. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 367 pages - 978-0-520-25623-1
Open Ebook - 377 pages - 978-0-520-94169-4
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