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Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria Book Available

Burlesque meets Priscilla Queen of the Desert in the new biography of Jim Flint, founder and owner of the world-famous Baton Show Lounge in Chicago-where the finest of female impersonators have been strutting their stuff onstage for more than 40 years. Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria, by Tracy Baim and Owen Keehnen (Prairie Avenue Productions, 528 pages), chronicles the unfettered life of this pioneer of the modern LGBT community. The book is available starting Nov. 20 from Amazon.com. The black-and-white version will also be available after Nov. 25 in Chicago at Women & Children First and Unabridged bookstores, and the Baton Show Lounge. The black-and-white version is $29.95 and the deluxe color edition is $89.

The Chicago book launch party for Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria will be Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at 3160, one of Flint's clubs, at 3160 N. Clark St. Flint will be joined by authors Baim and Keehnen.

After a childhood of poverty and a stint in the Navy, Flint embodied his be-who-you-are philosophy at a time when conformity was king and to be openly gay was a risky business. Running a gay bar in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s meant placating corrupt cops and dealing with shadowy local Mafiosi, as Flint himself testified in a Mob trial in the early 1980s.

During his flamboyant career, Flint also owned a down-and-dirty leather bar, headed a gay motorcycle club, threw lavish Halloween costume reviews, became a founder of the gay sports movement, created the now-nationwide Continental Pageant System, and ran for the Cook County Board of Commissioners as one of Chicago's first openly gay candidates.

Known to many by his drag name Felicia, Flint has attracted colorful people from all walks of life. In Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria, you'll meet dozens of the unforgettable characters who populate Flint's world: barkeepers, sports people, politicians, activists, and entertainers, such as Baton stars Chilli Pepper and Mimi Marks, transgender entertainment legends Alexandra Billings and Candis Cayne, and the Continental pageant family-a glittering array of the beads-boas-and-sequins crowd who inhabit the spotlights, the dressing rooms, and the glamorous, competitive world of female impersonation.

Their funny, sometimes tragic tales of triumph over adversity will inspire you, amid dangers of addiction, domestic violence, serial killers, murder and, of course, the AIDS epidemic. At the center of their stories is the enigmatic Flint himself-a warm-hearted, generous, quick-tempered visionary of LGBT Chicago.

Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria, which also revisits the burgeoning and powerful Chicago gay movement of the 1960s through the 1980s, was edited by William B. Kelley and Jorjet Harper, with design by Kirk Williamson.



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