Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, March 1

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Performance Thu Oct 08 2015

Black Button Eyes Productions' Goblin Market Shows Talent, Left Thinking about Closure

Goblin Market
Photo by Cole Simon.

They laughed a little louder, they cried a little softer, they lived a little stronger because they stood together...sisters.

This quote from an unknown author exhibits the connection between sisters Lizzie (played by Jennifer T. Grubb) and Laura (Stephanie Stockstill) in the musical adaptation of the 1862 poem Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. It was made into a "mini-musical" by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon, with music by Pen. As I watched its staging, I appreciated the connections and execution, but I would have liked to feel more closure in the open-ended interpretation.

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Jen Kraakevik

Comedy Wed Sep 09 2015

50 States of Gay: A LGBTQ Comedy Sketch Debut

Let Freedom (Cock) Ring!

As of June 26, 2015, the U.S. of A. now has given everyone the opportunity to marry whomever they like regardless of gender. As each state has had its battle with the decision on a different timeline, this five-person crew has created a new show called 50 States of Gay, produced by GayCo Productions. 50 States of Gay shows the fight for equality taking you through all 50 states in a series of shows, each of which is chosen by chance through the audience's selection. Picking a state from a hat each week, the cast creates original content that becomes the theme for the next show. The hybrid sketch-variety experience has many art forms (songs, puppetry, stand up, interpretative dance, lesbian break-up scenes and more), and presents the lingering truth (and penis/vagina jokes!) in its own patriotic style.

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Jen Kraakevik

Improv Sat Aug 04 2012

Flirty, Dirty Fun: A Review of Underpants Improv

Underpants Improv Cropped.jpg

In a web publication called Gapers Block, it seemed quite appropriate to review a show in which six gals do some mimed burlesque and somewhat sexy twists on short-form improv standards in their bra and panties. At least that's what this guy was thinking on the Wednesday night he saw Underpants Improv at the Gorilla Tango Theatre. Of course, he brought a date along, lest he be viewed by the predominantly female audience as the leering guy who was a little too into games like "It's Not What It Looks Like," in which two performers mimed sex acts like toe suckling, salad tossing, and blow jobbing while trading explanations as to why, you guessed it, it's not what it looks like.

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Tom Riemschneider

Benefit Fri Mar 30 2012

In Full Bloom

The Burlington continues its current line-up of great events with Bloom-n-Boom, hosted by the Subject to Change collaborative which, "aims to create a space of "no shame," when it comes to the music we enjoy and the people we love and care about -- our family (both blood and chosen) and our community." The event celebrates the early arrival of spring and the ongoing blooming of the trans community with the Chicago Women's Health Center's Trans Greater Access Project (TGAP). The project promotes services such as trans-affirming healthcare by providing hormone therapy, trans-sensitive gynecological exams, and counseling.

The night kicks off at 9pm with DJ sets by Josie Blush, Miss Summer Clearance, and Panakin Skywalker. Although no guests will be turned away, patrons are encouraged to give a $5 suggested donation.

In addition to the music, Subject to Change will also be selling a companion zine featuring works from people who have used the TGAP program as well as others who have trans health and affirming-related work to share. Submissions for this zine continue through Sunday, April 1 and acceptable works include prose, essays, photography, drawings, comics, and poetry. Submissions can be sent to

Bloom-n-Boom takes place at The Burlington, 3425 West Fullerton at 9pm.

Britt Julious

Event Wed Feb 15 2012

U of Chicago Professors Take to the Stage

Law and literary enthusiasts unite!

The University of Chicago's Law School is hosting a two--day conference, Manhood in American Law and Literature, which will serve as a platform for discussion surrounding the issues of sexuality and law within the context of literary works.

A highlight of the conference is sure to be the two dramatic scenes presented by the school's faculty members. Judge Richard Posner, Professor Jonathan Masur, and Professor Daniel Abebe will perform scenes from The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, by Herman Wouk, followed by performances from Professor Martha Nussbaum and Professor Douglas Baird in The Little Foxes, by Lillian Hellman.

The conference will also feature speakers from a variety of fields and universities. Discussions will be anchored in literature, including classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. There will even be a live reading by renowned author, Joyce Carol Oates.

The conference will take place on UofC's campus on Friday, February 17 through Saturday, February 18. A full schedule of events can be found here.

The conference is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required, but seating may be limited.

Janna Dons

Feature Wed Jun 22 2011

It's Not Easy Peeing 'T': Trans Activists Strive for Safety and Equality

By Joseph Erbentraut.


When violence goes viral, as happened most notably in some of the raw video footage depicting and sharing with the world the outpouring of protests during the Middle East's Arab Spring earlier this year, it can be difficult to accept the images we see and the sounds we hear as reality. Our mind chooses to resist the Hollywood tendency to place ourselves in the lead "character's" shoes and we distance ourselves from those living another life, speaking a different language and living in a foreign land. We retweet and move on to the next slice of scandal, society or, if we're lucky, substance amongst the digital deluge.

But once one watches the video depicting the violent April 18 attack of 22-year-old trans woman Chrissy Lee Polis in a Baltimore area McDonald's, it's hard to forget the sound of her screams amidst a backdrop of ambivalence, at best, and egging on, at worst. It's difficult to erase the image of Polis' hair being pulled and her body being dragged along the floor by her teenage assailants, who leapt on her in the restaurant's restroom. It's impossible to un-cry the tears that may shed upon watching the attacks coming to an end only after an older woman interjected -- and the restaurant's employees warned the attackers that police were, finally, en route to the scene.

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Performance Thu Jun 02 2011

"You're Being Ridiculous; My First Time"

When I walked into Gorilla Tango Theater to see You're Being Ridiculous, My First Time, I was admittedly skeptical; a show with that premise could go very wrong, very fast. Much to my delight, what unfolded was an endearing, funny, well written and well produced show, worth the $15 ticket price.

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Nellie Huggins

Film Wed May 04 2011

Dyke Delicious presents May Shorts program

Dyke Delicious, a monthly lesbian screening series at Chicago Filmmakers, recently announced the line-up for their May Shorts program. The shorts range from serious dramas to hilarious comedies and feature two films by Chicago directors (Thresholds and The Kitteh Hutch). See the full line-up after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Amy Dittmeier

Sex & Sexuality Fri Mar 25 2011

Dry Humping 101

Photographer Todd Diederich has been documenting the city's ball scene as part of an ongoing project funded by The Propeller Fund. Earlier this month, he arrived at a South Side karate studio for a ball, and instead found himself at a seminar on "dry humping" for lesbians.

Read the whole story and see more photos on Diederich's blog, and learn more about Chicago's underground ball scene in our recent feature.

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Feature Thu Feb 17 2011

Hanging on by a Sequin

This story was submitted by Rachel Rabbit White. All photos by Edmund X. White.


The stretch of 26th Street that makes the heart of Chicago's Little Village neighborhood is vibrant on a Friday night. The smell of taco stands is warm and inviting in the cold, as people bustle amongst the colorful stores -- joyerias and a chain of boutiques named, curiously, Brazilian Seduction Jeans. In the midst of this is a bar with no sign. But locals know this is La Cueva, a Spanish speaking-only bar where women with false eyelashes and hair like exotic birds writhe and lip-sync to Mexican pop music.

La Cueva is an LGBTQ historic site -- it is known as the oldest Latino drag bar in the country. This is a bit of a misnomer, as the performers are women -- male to female trans women. La Cueva has been around for 30 years, providing a place for trans Latinas to work and gay Latinos to belong. But the bar has recently been the center of controversy: in September, Little Village residents began protesting for La Cueva to close. Opponents say the bar has become a site for drug dealing and "transgender prostitution."

Continue reading this entry »

A/C / Comments (19)

Feature Fri Jan 21 2011

Strike a Pose: Chicago's Thriving Underground Ball Scene

This story was submitted by Rachel Rabbit White. All photos by Edmund X. White.


It's a snowy December night on the South Side and the ballroom has filled up quickly. There are guys in tailored suits, girls in red-heeled Louboutins. There are pop-gothy capes and futuristic glasses. The crowd is gathered around a catwalk -- and everyone is young, black and queer.

This is a ball. An underground LGBTQ contest where participants compete by "walking" -- showing off themed outfits and voguing -- a stylized house dance that continues to evolve. They are competing for trophies and the hope to become "legendary" -- famous not only in Chicago but the entire community, which now spans the globe. Balls found fame with Paris is Burning, a documentary about the New York scene, but Chicago's had its own ball circuit for as long as New York -- one that has its own trends, culture and history. And as the Internet popularizes the community, Chicago is seeing another wave in the resurgence of balls.

Continue reading this entry »

A/C / Comments (5)

Feature Wed Nov 24 2010

Lessons from Death: Chicagoans Reflect on Transgender Day of Remembrance

This article was submitted by Joseph Erbentraut.

Transgender Day of Remembrance Chicago 2010As the temperature plunged and the winds kicked up in the Loop just past 5pm on Saturday, Nov. 20, a gathering of more than 100 people stood outside the Thompson Center, candles in hand, under a large teal, pink and white flag while 14 names were read aloud.

The names belonged to the 14 known individuals murdered last year in the U.S. due to their gender identity or expression. While these peoples' lives may have included happy moments like birthdays and first kisses, parties and joyrides, this night their entire existences were condensed into only a few short sentences describing each of their lives' tragic final moments: Strangled. Stabbed. Punched repeatedly and grabbed by the neck. Shot in the chest.

Continue reading this entry »


Feature Wed Aug 25 2010

The Old Masters: BDSM's Popularity Grows Among Senior Citizens

This article was submitted by freelance writer Rachel Rabbit White.

Errol and I are in the car. He's been to The Sins Center before and I, well, I have never been to a BDSM club. "So tell me again about the last time you were there," I ask. He shakes his head. "So I walk in, checking out the place and I notice there are a lot of older people. I sit down and this little old lady comes up. Gray hair, you know someone's Grandma, here to pick them up. Then this guy starts tying her onto the equipment, pulling out crops and paddles. And she starts taking a beating. She's got age spots... this guy is whipping them."

We laugh, but Errol says he felt like he needed to watch to make sure that she was OK, and didn't have a heart attack.

The Sins Center is spacious and clean. Saint Andrew's crosses hang against the walls, empty sex slings sag in the corner. An older man with a beard flogs a graying submissive — a naked and bulbous woman bent into doggy style. Her purple posterior takes each of his toys: leather flogger, plastic cane, studded paddle.

Continue reading this entry »

A/C / Comments (37)

Sex & Sexuality Mon Jun 14 2010

Exploring Chicago's All-Bi Swingers Club

This article was submitted by freelance writer Rachel Rabbit White.

I'm sitting on the edge of the bed. The room is dark, filled with the sound of flesh smacking flesh and throaty "ahhhhhs." Next to me are huddles of middle aged men, standing, pants-off, half-hard. I'm sitting upright, purse in lap feeling a bit overdressed.

In front of me is a triple set of couples, all in the doggy-style position, fucking in front of a mirror. Guy on girl, guy on guy, guy on girl. The earthy smell of anal sex filters the air.

It's a swinger party. Or "lifestyle party" if you prefer. But something here is different. This party, Private Encounters, is Chicago's first and only all bisexual lifestyle party. Usually, guy on guy sex is sort of not allowed.

Continue reading this entry »

A/C / Comments (20)

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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