In the “City of Night” series, Edie Fake begins with the name of a historic Chicago place that served or promoted the gay and lesbian community, such as Sappho, The Virgo Out and The Cabin Inn, and dresses it up in architectural fantasy. Although all of these clubs, bars, community centers and gathering spots are now shuttered, photographs and narratives exist in various local archives. Still, Fake reimagines their street-view facades using a composite of architectural details culled from his observation of Chicago vernacular architecture. These are small, human-scaled buildings, decidedly not skyscrapers, that sport rainbow siding, or a swinging saloon door, or slanted roofs like a suburban residence. The facades are still and quiet, like the exaggerated monuments to the dead in Graceland Cemetery; the people are harbored inside.
The “City of Night” series is Fake’s small side project to his grand scroll of Chicago gay history, currently in progress. He describes the scroll as a huge visual map, though not linear, as a “pile of history.” It will be more historically functional than the creative portraits of long-gone clubs, as Fake is conducting research locally at the
Leather Archives, the Chicago History Museum and the Gerber/Hart Library. Both the scroll and the “City of Night” series are part of Fake’s investigation into the psychology of lost, or hidden, or secret, Chicago locales. Fake is also good at hand-drawing decorative patterns. The houndstooth, herringbone and geometric labyrinth designs (plus tons more hand-drawn patterns in Fake’s multi-issue zine “Gaylord Phoenix”) are not superficial pattern porn but, like the long-gone clubs, have their own social histories and cultures of identity. The patterns express a social and cultural continuum.