Candy Lee had started a career as a female impersonator at the Club My-O-My on Lake Pontchartrain. She also worked as a bartender at Bacino’s bar, and was an acquaintance of playwright Tennessee Williams when he returned to the city in the late 1950s.
Williams wrote an one-act play, And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens in 1958, which is said to be inspired by the life of Candy. The play’s protagonist, an interior decorator who sometimes cross-dresses, is called Candy, and is about to turn 35. Her older lover who set her up in business has left her for a younger man. Candy picks up a sailor, Karl, in a gay bar. She spends money on him, and he then beats her up and steals more. This was the first play by Williams with explicit gay characters, and was never performed during his lifetime.
The real Candy Lee had been arrested five times at Bacino’s in 1958, as had the other bartenders. She was also one of the founder members of the Yuga Krewe. However she did not get on with the other members, and by the early 1960s had been banned from the balls. The word is that she called the police on the 1962 Fifth Yuga Ball.
- Michael Paller. Gentlemen Callers: Tennessee Williams, Homosexuality and Mid-Twentieth-Century Broadway Drama. Palgrave MacMillan, 2005: 133-7, 246n45n47. Discussion of the play.
- Howard Philips Smith. Unveiling the Muse: The Lost History of Gay Carnival in New Orleans. University Press of Mississippi, 2017: Chp 1 The Royal Krewe of Yuga and the Birth of Gay Carnival.
Clay Shaw, New Orleans business man and prominent in the city’s gay scene was likely a member of the Yuga Krewe. He is best known as the only person to be prosecuted for the assassination of US President Kennedy (Tommy Lee Jones portrayed Shaw in Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK.)