In the 1920s, speakeasies ruled New York City, and Gladys Bentley ruled the speakeasies. Inside these hidden, smoky rooms, Bentley astounded and scandalized audiences with her booming voice, her impeccably tailored suits, and her raunchy lyrics. But once the lights went down, no one knew the tragedy going on behind the scenes. Here are bawdy facts about Gladys Bentley.
Note: Although some historians view Bentley as a trans-masculine figure, she used she/her pronouns throughout her life. This article reflects that.
Gladys Bentley Facts
1. Her Mother Rejected Her
Gladys Bentley came into this world on August 12, 1907 as the eldest child of George Bentley and his wife Mary Mote. But trouble started as soon as Gladys was born. Her mother had desperately wanted a boy, and when the nurses told her she had a little girl instead, the matriarch refused to even touch her baby. It only got worse from there.