The Pittsburgh Queer History Project (PQHP) began as an urban archaeological dig of an abandoned after-hours social club. The detritus collected helped construct a history of working-class Pittsburgh, including the lives and labor of trans bodies in the Steel City. A recent exhibition by the PQHP, Lucky after Dark, presented a cross-section of this archive, including a newly acquired slide collection from social clubs between 1967 and 1990. Amounting to several thousand photographs taken at three clubs owned by Robert “Lucky” Johns, as well as hundreds of hours of video, it is a uniquely rich documentation of a subcultural community spanning over thirty years. The author discusses a critical shift in my handling of these archival materials, beginning with a slide show entitled “The $10,000 Woman.” The incorporation of oral histories by trans women in the photograph archive turned what was originally indexed as a record of gay entertainment into a nuanced narration of transsexual history in 1970s Pittsburgh.

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