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A strange tale appeared in the Salford papers in March 1965 of a drag artiste going by the name 'Diamond Lil' who incurred the wrath of local magistrates for his outrageous stage shows.

History With Flynn

Salford Magistrates Court heard the story of an undercover police visit to the Irwell Castle Hotel on Great Clowes Street in Broughton. 

These being rather less open-minded times, the incident would cause the landlord of this Salford pub to lose his music licence and pay a hefty fine. 

PC Malcom Nellis and a female police office PC Jessop found the artiste - real name James Stone - being played onto the stage by a Mr Kenneth Taylor with Diamond Lil "dressed as a woman in a tight fitting dress, wearing high heeled shoes, his hair piled high on his head, wearing white earings and his chest padded to simulate a bosom". 

The court heard that the plain clothes police ordered drinks as Stone started his act by raising his skirt and adjusting his suspender belt. 

PC Nellis proceeded to take notes of the songs that Diamond Lil was singing and alleged in court that he changed the words: instead of singing, "There goes my heart" he changed it to, "There goes my bra" whilst singing them "with undulating and suggestive movements" 

The show got a lot worse for the pure-hearted PC Nellis as Diamond Lil told suggestive jokes and then mixed with the audience, making "improper remarks" and "suggestive gestures". 

One elderly couple stood up and walked out saying that the show was "disgusting". 

Among the jokes heard by PC Nellis some referred to using the ladies toilet and saying to some youths in the audience: "You may think I'm a queer but I'm very strong, I'll see you outside" 

There was also "frequent lifting of his skirt and manipulation of the upper part of his dress". 

PC Nellis had seen enough and called for Sgt Hoyle who had also seen a small part of the performance, was he more faint of heart than his fellow police officers? 

They stopped the landlord Mr Green in the lobby and told him that they considered the show to be lewd and that they intended to prosecute him. 

In a trial at Salford Magistrates Court Mr Simon Fawcuss for the 
prosecution said that the police had been observing the pub for several weeks and that there were audiences of 20 to 60 men and women watching the performance. 

He told the court that Mr Stone appeared dressed as a woman telling indecent jokes and making lewd gestures amd movements which were obscene 
whilst Mr Tayor accompanied the act on piano and drums and acted as a 
"stooge" to Mr Stone. 

In his defence Mr Stone AKA Diamond Lil said: "I've been up for this sort of thing before, and its practically ruined me, I don't tell obscene jokes or gestures, I admit I told the jokes but as far as movement is concerned, its only sideways movements such as you see in any television dance show, there's nothing wrong with that" 

Leslie Owen, defending the landlord Mr Green, said that he had been there for 12 months and Saturday and Sunday evening was always entertainment night, adding that Diamond Lil as James Stone was a regular customer at the pub and had actually performed his act for Mr Green who did not find it objectionable. 

And while the landlord terminated Diamond Lil's engagement at the Irwell Castle Hotel, the drag queen was easily able to get work at another Salford pub. 

Mr Taylor, the pianist, told the court that he was strictly employed as a musician and was "blushing and embarrassed throughout the show" as the police well knew. 

That guardian of morals in Salford, magistrate Mr Leslie Walsh was having none of this. 

He revoked the music licence of the pub from Mr Green and fined him £50 adding: "It's high time that publicans know that this sort of objectionable performance will not be tolerated in Salford. 

"It's quite disgraceful that it should be thought fit to amuse people in this disgusting way." 

He then turned his attention to Mr Stone the female impersonator and fined him £50, adding. 

"I'm not quite sure that you should not be going to prison." 

Finally the pianist Mr Taylor was fined £20 for aiding and abetting in these shows. 

It makes me wonder what Mr Walsh if he were still alive would make of the antics as such clubs at the Birdcage in Manchester or many of the clubs and pubs in the Gay Village? 

Thankfully we now live in more enlightened times in Salford.

This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 5th of March 2015, it is reproduced here with the blessings of part time lady, Mrs Tony 'Tassels' Flynn.

Tony Flynn

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