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SPOTLIGHT ON THE BATON SHOW LOUNGE

The legendary Baton Show Lounge (436 North Clark Street) recently celebrated its 48th anniversary as a cornerstone of Chicago’s LGBTQ community. Since 1969, the Baton has provided the finest in female impersonation, making it the longest running show of its kind on the planet.

 

Jim Flint, owner of the Baton as well as the founder of the prestigious Continental Pageantry System, expressed surprise at his establishment having lasted so long, “When we opened, I was just hoping we’d stay open a year or two. Gay bars came and went so quickly back then. Once I made it that past that one-year, two-year mark — I just kept going.” 

 

The Top of The Nation Revue

The Baton has not only lasted, but flourished with shows still running Wednesday through Sundays at 8:30PM, 10:30PM, and 12:30AM. When asked what audiences who attended a Baton show might expect, Flint said, “A Las Vegas type revue that starts on time and ends on time.”

Over the years Flint and his talented cast have been featured in countless articles and news features. His performers have appeared on an array of television shows including Oprah, the Phil Donohue Show, Irv Kupcinet, Jenny Jones, Jerry Springer, and Sally Jessy Raphael.

Touted as having “The World’s Most Glamorous Female Impersonators,” many of the entertainers who have performed at the Baton have gone on to greater things like Alexandra Billings who is currently a regular on the award winning television series, Transparent. Other popular Baton entertainers throughout years have included Mimi Marks, Candis Cayne, Monica Munro, and Chilli Pepper who is still in the current cast.

Given the calibre of talent Flint has consistently provided, I asked what he looks for in an entertainer. Aside from the usual attributes of talent and professionalism, Flint proclaimed that he looks for what he doesn’t have. “I like to keep the show fresh and for each of my performers to be unique.”

In the past few years keeping the show fresh has meant adding two male dancers, (Angel Saez and Ramon Ventura) in addition to his six female impersonators (Chilli Pepper, Maya Douglas, Sheri Payne, Victoria LaPaige, Jackie Couture, Regine Phillips, and emcee/hostess with with mostest, Ginger Grant).

 

The Crowd

Flint has also seen dramatic shifts in the demographic of the Baton crowds over the course of 48 years. “In the early days it was the lesbians who kept us in business. Then we had a predominantly gay crowd for many years. Now things are a bit different.” Flint affirms that The Baton is currently very popular with straight women and is often a spot for bachelorette parties. He added that in the past year the show has become increasingly frequented by straight men as well. Flint estimates the current breakdown of his audience as somewhere in the neighborhood of 70% straight and 30% LGBTQ.

 

Jim’s Day in Chicago

When asked about showing off the city he loves to a visitor, Flint said his favorite day in Chicago would begin with a trip to Maggie Daley Park (337 E. Randolph Street) followed by a stop to let his guest explore Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Avenue). Flint would then take his Chicago visitor to The Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive) and, time permitting, he would also love to take his guest to a Chicago Cubs game if his favorite team is in town at Wrigley Field (1060 West Addison Street).

A Huge Cubs Fan

Chicago Cubs’ fans don’t get much bigger than Jim Flint, who has held season tickets to the recent World Series champs for an astonishing 50 years. Flint was even recognized recently by the team for his loyalty! When asked to list his three favorite Cubs of all time (in no specific order) Flint thought for a moment and replied: 1. Ron Santo 2. Ernie Banks 3. Anthony Rizzo.

Top Tourist Restaurant Picks

For a nice place to take visitors to eat in Chicago, Flint recommends Naha (500 North Clark Street) which he says is friendly and has terrific service. He also recommends the fun tourist spots and top eateries Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (60 East Grand Avenue) and Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse (1028 North Rush Street).

 

The Baton Show Lounge features top-of-the-line entertainment with shows running Wednesday through Sundays at 8:30PM, 10:30PM, and 12:30AM. For reservations and questions call (312) 644-5269, or visit thebatonshowlounge.com.

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