Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eureka: Drag! --- The Rest of the Story

Lee Brewster In my post yesterday, I failed to mention Lee Brewster, the publisher of Drag magazine.

Lee was not only the publisher of Drag, he was a mover and shaker in our community.

In the early 1970s, he organized drag balls and began a mail-order business that catered to the needs of the community.

Mr. Lee's mail-order business became so popular that he expanded it to a brick and mortar boutique in Lower Manhattan known as "Lee's Mardi Gras Boutique," and it became the shopping epicenter for girls who came from all over the country to buy Lee's wares.

For many girls, visiting Lee's store gave them their first opportunity to buy shoes and clothing that fit, to purchase wigs and cosmetics without feeling self-conscious, and to discover that they were not alone.

Lee passed on in May 2000 and his obituary in The New York Times is worth reading.

I was aware of Lee's store, but I was too closeted to shop there during my trips to The City mainly because I was usually accompanied by a friend or relative, who did not know all about me.




Markus Kenzie, fashion model.



Source: MyHabit

Wearing Pink Tartan (skirt).


  1. I remember the store well. 14th Street in the meat packing district. The entrance wasn't real obvious, and you had to take an elevator to the third floor. But yes, he had everything, lingerie, large size shoes, cosmetics. Funny, there were always, it seems, the times I was there, a couple of other guys in suits and ties and we would maybe nod and sort of smile at each other, but not really strike up a conversation. One time I was going to buy an all-in-one and Lee recommended against it, saying I was too tall, my torso was to long and it wouldn't fit right. Recommended a long line bra and panty girdle. Was always a thrill to go there.

  2. Thank you for the opportunity to think about the early years. Lee's Mardi Gras Boutique held a mystique for me that I was never able to penetrate. I never made it down to the 14th St. area but had walked by his prior mid town location but never mustered the courage to go in. It just seemed that it would have been too much of a committment ( or perhaps an admission I was not ready to make) for me to go up to his store. I thought that there would be no easy exit from his upstairs boutique.

    How did I know about "Lee's". The same way you did. I would glom onto any form of paper publication that even came close to mentioning men wearing woman's clothing. From time to time there would be a sketched advertisement for Lee's, in much the same fashion that there were sketched advertisements for "Frederick's of Hollywood". If I could get my hands on a "Drag" or "Female Mimics" I would stash them and read them over and over again. I even had a few editions of some of Sandy Thomas's stories. Back in the 1970's and 1980s I was both fully closeted and, to a certain degree, in denial of my "T"ness..

  3. Thanks for the memories! I lived above NYC in the early 80's and have two major regrets. I never went to the Statue of Liberty...or Lee Brewster's!!!

  4. I began shopping at Lee's original location...across from the rear of the Port Authority Bus Terminal...in the *70s. I was first interested in his magazine and fiction stock...but eventually, the idea of dressing for real took over, I first dressed in full when I had a "makeover" at Lee's...and I met my first real-life CDing friends there. In the days before the internet, Lee's was a vital place for CDs to get together.

  5. I first went to Lee's original location--across from the rear of the Port Authority Bus Terminal--in the '70s, looking for his magazines and fiction. Eventually, the lure of dressing in full proved too strong, and I had my first make-over there. I also met my first real-life CDing friends there. In those pre-Internet days, Lee's was an important meeting place for the community.

  6. Dear Stana,

    I also visited Lee's Mardi Gras Boutique on 2 different occasions. It was like Disneyland for we special girls. The first time I visited, I felt like I was in a spy movie, entering the unmarked door at street level, going up to the 3rd flood, and if I remember correctly getting buzzed in the 3rd floor entrance door. Lee was a fun, lovely person.



  7. Thanks for the memories. I too went to the shop behind the Port Authority on twice. Grew up in NJ, but did not find out about the store until I finished college in the south. On a couple of occasions, while visiting my parents in NJ, I took the bus to the Port Authority and walked to the store. It was hard to find but worth it. Girls, we have come a long way.

  8. Barbie SatinAugust 10, 2022

    I went to Lee's in 1992. I purchased my first wig and a pink satin maids uniform. Going there and riding the elevator up to the loft was an adventure in itself. It was the first time I ever felt fully at easy shopping for girly things.