When Tony Correia moved to Vancouver in 1988 with the return portion of plane ticket purchased from a classified ad, he didn’t think he would last six months in the city. Twenty years and a popular newspaper serial later, comes Foodsluts at Doll & Penny’s Café, his memoir about the notorious drag cabaret located in the heart of Vancouver’s West End.
Set in the late 80s and early 90s, Foodsluts follows Correia as he explores Vancouver’s counter-culture during the height of the AIDS crisis. With a cast of characters that includes drag queens, prostitutes, go-go boys and the religious right, Foodsluts revisits a period in Vancouver’s history that Correia claims has all but been erased and honours the memories of friends lost during the height of the AIDS crisis.
“People take for granted that AIDS is now a manageable disease. In the 80s and 90s it seemed like there was no end in site and we were all living on borrowed time. I’m still surprised that I lived to tell the story,” explained Correia by email. “Now that we’re losing queers spaces at an alarming rate, I also felt it was important to paint a portrait of the community in 80’s and 90’s. It was a magical place.”
Inspired by the letters he had written to a friend from 1988-1994, Correia originally decided to edit them as part of a project he was working on at San Francisco Community College.
“As part of my research I flew back to Vancouver and flipped through all the old issues of Angles, the community paper at the time, at the Vancouver Public Library and became engrossed in the rich history of Vancouver’s queer community,” said Correia. “It made me really proud of Vancouver’s queer community and all that we have accomplished. We need to stop bashing ourselves and give ourselves more credit for making Vancouver the city that it is today.”
And while Correia has a fondness for all of his stories, he does point to one that is his most memorable and included in the chapter titled “Bombs Away”.
“The cafe received a bomb threat during the height of the bar rush and the cooks consumed all the drugs they had on them in a panic because they thought the cops were coming to investigate. There was no bomb but it shut down the cafe for the evening.”
Foodsluts at Doll & Penny’s Café collects the entire serial published by Xtra! in 2011, adds previously unpublished material and includes all twenty-one illustrations by artist Ken Boesem. The book is available in paperback and eBook editions.
Foodsluts at Doll & Penny’s Cafe: Book Launch
Thursday, 24 May 2012 @ 7pm
Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium, 1238 Davie Street, Vancouver
Meet author Tony Correia and illustrator Ken Boesem as they sign copies of the book and display some of the memorabilia from the Doll & Penny’s Cafe.