The Latin Quarter Revue: Behind the Curtain

May 20, 2023 through January 2024

The City Reliquary is proud to partner with guest curator Kirsten Larvick on a new exhibition, The Latin Quarter Revue: Behind the Curtain, which explores the nightclub era by way of a singular New York cabaret: the Latin Quarter, which originally operated in Times Square from 1942 to 1969.

A combination of archival footage, photos, ephemera, and more will reveal the life–and afterlife–of this iconic New York nightlife space, offering a glimpse into the midcentury American dream through the eyes of some of the incredible artists who shaped it.

A joint effort by Boston nightclub impresario Lou Walters (father of famed reporter Barbara Walters) and theater and cinema entrepreneur E.M. Loew, the club was inspired by the cabarets of the Paris Latin Quarter district from which it took its name, and other areas of the rive gauche. This 630-seat restaurant-theatre in the heart of Times Square was a global destination. Performers included Broadway talent, beautiful showgirls, and major headliners such as Mae West, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, comedians from Shecky Greene to the Ritz Brothers, and adagio dancers Francois Szony and Nancy Claire.

By the mid-1960s, the US experienced political and cultural upheaval that forced a re-evaluation of the American Dream. In New York, these changes transformed the landscape of Times Square into the gritty arena it would remain into the 1980s. Amidst this backdrop, the once sumptuous cabarets were seen as gaudy remnants of yesteryear’s naivete. By the end of the decade many clubs turned out their lights, including Lou Walters’ World Famous Latin Quarter.

Kirsten Larvick is a documentarian and archivist. She directed the award-winning John Hemmer & the Showgirls (2017), which tells the story of John Hemmer, a singer at the Latin Quarter in the 1960s. She is the founder of the Al Larvick Fund and a board co-chair of the Women’s Film Preservation Fund.

The Latin Quarter Revue: Behind the Curtain is dedicated in loving memory of John Hemmer and the many other Latin Quarter performers who are no longer with us.

Curator/Artist Talks

Join us for a series of Saturday afternoon talks with guest curator Kirsten Larvick and Latin Quarter alumni.

Update: this event has been canceled due to presenter illness and will be rescheduled. RSVP for future updates. We kick things off on Saturday, July 8, new date TBA when Kirsten Larvick will be in conversation with former Latin Quarter dancer Francine M. Storey. The program will run from 1 to 2:30 pm. $10 admission includes full museum access.

Francine M. Storey moved to New York City from Los Angeles at age 21. She appeared in To Broadway With Love at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and in the Broadway shows Bajour, Mata Hari, and Cabaret. At age 32, she began to write. She won the Dylan Thomas Poetry Prize in 1980 from The New School for her poem “Instructions for Search,” which was then filmed by Jerome Hamlin of Third Wave Media and premiered at the Explorers Club in New York. She lives in New York City near Times Square.

Future Curator Talks

Save the date for these upcoming curator talks, all on Saturdays from 1 to 2:30:

  • August 12 with former Latin Quarter dancer Teak Lewis
  • October 14, guest TBA
  • November 11, guest TBA
  • January 13, guest TBA