|*Giveaway details below*|
With only a few days to go until the release date for Love in Disguise, my thoughts have been focused on southern Arizona and the research trips I made to that area in preparation for writing the story.
I thought you might be interested in hearing about Tombstone’s Bird Cage Theatre, one of the sites that inspired several scenes in the book. (To be honest, my husband is the one who suggested I blog about the Bird Cage this week. I think he hoped it would spare him having to listen to me rattle on about the book. You’d think he would know better after nearly 38 years!)
Ellie, our heroine, has to make a lot of adjustments when she moves from Chicago to wild-and-wooly Arizona to go undercover for the Pinkertons. Ellie has moved in theatrical circles all her life, but a place like the Bird Cage Theater was not at all what she was accustomed to.
The Bird Cage had a unique business strategy. While it did serve a portion of the community as a theater, it also operated as a combination saloon, gambling hall, and brothel during the height of Tombstone’s silver boom.
In the area in front of the stage is the faro table where Doc Holliday spent many profitable hours. He and Johnny Ringo got into a shooting match here, but both men were so inebriated that they missed each other, at nearly point-blank range.
Out in the lobby hangs a painting of “Fatima,” an exotic dancer who performed at the Bird Cage in 1881. I’m only showing you a portion of the painting here. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Fatima, by the way, graciously consented to make a cameo appearance (as the painting, not the dancer) in one of the scenes in Love in Disguise.
I was thrilled to be able to visit an area downstairs that had recently been reopened after being sealed off since 1889. This is the site of the longest poker game in Western history, which ran for 8 years and 4 months, nonstop.
A New York Times article from 1882 labeled the Bird Cage as “the Roughest, Bawdiest, and most Wicked night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.“ Today, 140 bullet holes in the walls, ceilings, and floors attest to its boisterous clientele.
And yet, with all the rowdy, unsavory activity that went on within the Bird Cage, some of the most noted stars of the American stage made appearances here. Photos of Eddie Foy, Lotta Crabtree, Richard Mansfield, and Enrico Caruso hang on a backstage wall.
What a disparity! No wonder poor Ellie was taken aback. How about you? Have you ever been thrust into a new environment where you had to adapt in a hurry?
I’m so excited about Friday being the official release date for Love in Disguise that I’m giving away a copy to one of the Writes of Passage readers! To be entered:
Leave a comment and your e-mail address on this blog post any time before noon Central, Tuesday, June 5th. The winner will be announced right here in Judy’s blog next week, Wednesday, June 6th. Like last week, I’m only able to make this offer available to entrants from the U.S. and Canada (Rosie, I HATE having to draw a line like this!)—but I’d still love to hear from the rest of you!
And congratulations to....
Kathleen (Lane Hill House), Marianne, and Samantha K
....winners of last week’s drawing for the Love in Disguise pocket mirrors! The three of you should have received an e-mail from me by now. If not, please leave a comment below and let me know so I can make sure you receive your prize!
Many thanks to Judy for letting me spend time with you these past two weeks. It’s always a delight to be here!