Parlor House Panic – Multiple shows during the week of Thanksgiving, Nov 26, 27, 29, and 30
Anyone who has taken the Underground Tour at night knows about Madame Lou Graham. Early Seattle was filled with houses full of ‘seamstresses’, women with skilled hands who took care of the clothing needs of the local gentlemen. That they took care of them by first removing them is of note.
Madame Graham ran this town in the late 1800’s. Politically powerful, a shrewd businesswoman, wealthy, and insistent on class, gentility, and beauty in her girls, she and her brothels were a major influence on the color and ethos of Seattle.
But you won’t see her mentioned in many major history books. And if you do, it’s as a fascinating side note, an oddity, a blip in the male dominated history of the west.
In Parlor House Panic, the acting troupe of the Theater off Jackson recreates in spirit one of Madame Graham’s establishments. A group of distinguished gentlemen play cards and talk business in the center of the room as attractive ladies of varying ages mingle in the crowd. Madame Graham entertains from her office, arranging meetings and extolling the virtues of her ladies. Periodically, one of our entertainers steps up to the stage and gives us a glimpse of her talents. Some sing, others dance, all are beautiful.
Though the evening is fun and guests get to purchase drinks and giggle along with the naughty poetry reading, the show ends in a verbal explosion. The men, talking politics and making decisions, have decided to exclude Madame Graham, her money, her generous donations to the city, and her many high risk loans to budding business owners, from future developments. Madame Graham, sturdy, beautiful, charismatic, powerful, lectures the men on their two-faced-ness. A ring of women, now forgotten over 100 years later, step away, slowly, each step punctuated: “Because there is no room for whores in history.”
Parlor House Panic, in addition to being a fun evening out, ended with a powerful reminder of history, and of what happens even today day to vulnerable populations, minorities, influential groups of people that society would rather we forget.
Thanks to the volunteers who staffed our information table. ‘How To Be An Ally To Sex Workers’ cards, ‘Someone I Love Is A Sex Worker’ buttons, ‘SWOP-Seattle’ t-shirts, and much more, all available to the general public.