Maybe the Indianapolis, Indiana Photography Studio "National Studio" doesn't seem to appear on the "We Do History" website of the Indiana Historical Society because the photographer was inept? FOCUS! A circa 1935 photo stamped on the reverse "National Studio, Indianapolis, Indiana, Illinois Building" but I can find no other documentation. Still, this 8 x 10 original glossy would indicate the photographer was functioning enough to get photo gigs.
Sheesh. A whole stage of dicey and politically questionable folks! Minstrels, Cross-Dressers, rural Fiddlers and a group of somewhat flamboyant male dancers in mini-skirts. What the hell is going ON here?
Whatever this is, I reckon Indiana owns it. We can blame one of the participants for moving his head (one of the "end" performers, where they usually stood in minstrel photos) but still one would think a professional photographer would take time to focus. Would you pay for a school portrait of your kid with this quality?
Now, as for the content? What can I say? In this case, pictures don't lie and they don't sugarcoat the past. Whatever wing ding this was, at the least we can suspect the state of our new vice president was a happening place back then. WTF? Did they all DANCE after the photo was taken?
Now a good portion of the country had minstrel shows, but there does seem to be an inordinate amount of minstrel activity in Indiana. In fact, the very same Indiana Historical Society which hasn't yet documented the National Studio has a nice spread for the sheet music "Down at the Old Minstrel Show" which was published in Indiana. Ahh, yes. I do love to hear them play the songs of yesterday.
Now, as for all the apparent happy cross-dressers here? I dunno. There were lots of men who made a living performing as women in minstrel shows. HERE are a dozen of them! One of them is described as the "best genteel wench that ever trod the boards" and his passing with late-stage syphilis is noted! But these fellows are probably just local yokels having a bizarre laugh. The ones in pixie costumes on the right? I just don't know. Either they are professionals, or they got there very early for make-up.
Seriously, I cannot claim Indiana was more racist (or more dressed in drag) than any other state when it comes to entertainment.
Original photograph circa 1935? Stamped on reverse "National Studio, Indianapolis, Indiana" Collection Jim Linderman