“Sundays at Café Tabac” and the birthplace of lesbian chic

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Most of what’s been written and filmed about LGBT history in the early 1990s revolves around the tide finally beginning to turn in regards to the HIV/AIDS crisis, but that wasn’t the only event of note for every LGBT community everywhere. In New York City, the lesbian scene was thriving, and a certain Café Tabac became known as “the birthplace of lesbian chic.” Two members of the original scene, Wanda Acosta and Karen Song, hope to turn their memories into a documentary film.

As their Kickstarter page explains:

The early 90’s was a fierce time to be a lesbian in NYC. We were breaking rigid boundaries of past definitions of identity and lesbian nightlife thrived like no other time in NY’s history.

Nowhere did this empowerment emerge with such elegance and style than at the top of the stairs every Sunday night at Café Tabac. The media defined this event as the ‘birthplace of lesbian chic,’ and outside sources continue its attempts to define our community. This film aims to write our own history as we lived it.

To present a complete picture of the times, “Sundays at Café Tabac” will examine not only what was happening inside the café, but around it, culturally and politically, that caused its “legendary” status.

Acosta and Song told 429Magazine:

The time is now to celebrate the glamorous and iconic lesbians who captured the spotlight and stood on the front lines for social change in the charged environment that was the early 90s, who inspired the political and cultural transformations we see today…‘Sundays at Cafe Tabac’ celebrates this empowering and important era in lesbian culture with the same flair in which these women gathered weekly at Cafe Tabac, an unforgettable Sunday night salon that transformed lesbian nightlife in New York City in the early 90s.

The documentary will feature interviews with people who were part of the scene, archival images, animated illustrations, original music, and even stylized recreations to bring across the feel of the times as accurately as possible.

That won’t be cheap, however, which is where Kickstarter comes in. Acosta and Song’s aim is to raise at least $15,000, but they list their “ideal goal” as $85,000; their anticipated expenses include paying “crews and creative personnel, meals, locations, transportation costs, styling & props” for their live-action scenes on-site, travel costs for interviews, the rights to certain music, images, and footage, the cost of commissioning the film score, post-production expenses, marketing, and more.

Contributor rewards range from thank-you postcards to being listed as co-producer in the film credits; Acosta and Song are also looking for private donors to back the film for an executive producer credit.

The Kickstarter campaign ends on December 8; it can be found here.

429Magazine

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