After I made the decision to open a piano bar and lounge, the next step was to come up with a name. Being in Seattle, I was hoping for a name that was indicative of this city in which I've made my home. What is Seattle know for? Being green & progressive, beer, seafood, some sports teams, lots of outdoor activities, the Puget Sound, rain and so much more. One of our nicknames in all of this is the Emerald City. "That's it" I thought. The Emerald City Cabaret. Perfect, now time to get everything in motion including licensing the name. A quick Google search dashed my fantasies. I learned that the Emerald City Cabaret is a strip club in Orlando. The name was discarded as quickly as the dollar bills of a lot of men in Florida. What to do, what to do? Come up with another name. Rain City Cabaret? Nah. A Gay Cabaret? No, Mary. Capitol Hill Cabaret. Snooze. I wend through as many names as tourists go through Pike Market during any given morning. I think it was finally may Aunt Carla, who said "You could just call it Dorothy's." I believe her inspiration came from the Emerald City idea and a connection to one of the greatest Dorothy's of all: Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale.
So, a name was bestowed. But did I really want to make it a bar with that gay of a theme? I mean, really! As a gay man, I want my club to be someplace where my friends and I feel at home, but it doesn't have to be THAT gay. I can see it now: a big statue of Judy in the entrance way, a Yellow Brick Road leading to the stage, servers dressed as Munchkins, the Scarecrow behind the bar and a Wicked Witch who popped in from time to time trying to scare the patrons enough that they drink more. Run, Toto, Run! Still, it was a good idea but I needed to frame it better. My graphic artist friend Chip Taylor (who created our logo) said "Why define it? Let people come to their own idea about the name. There are a lot of famous women named Dorothy and of course, there's always the old expression "Friend of Dorothy's" that was used for decades as code for someone who was gay or gay-supportive." Thanks, Chip! That's exactly what I needed to hear and you just won the ruby red slippers! (He'd look great in them btw.)
So now, Dorothy's has become an homage. An homage to so many famous women who were indeed cabaret performers, who sang on the stage and screen and into our hearts. In addition to Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale there are or were such great performers as Dorothy Dandrige, Dorothy Lamour, Dorothy Loudon, Dorothy Collins, Dorothy Fields, Dorothy Moore, Dorothy Provine, Dorothy Malone, Dorothy Sebastian and my personal favorite Dorothy of them all, Dorothy Zbornak, played by Bea Arthur in the Golden Girls. In fact, another dream is to eventually open establishments named Sophia, Rose and Blanche too. Dorothy's parent company is indeed named St. Olaf Productions. When Dorothy's opens, we will have a mural depicting all of these great women on our wall.
One final Dorothy of note is not at all famous, at least not to anyone but me. Her name was Dorothy Hollenbeck and she was my great aunt, the sister of my maternal grandmother. When I was little, my mother's sister Elaine was coming for a visit. My aunt Dorothy told little me, "You know, Johnny, Elaine is your aunt but I'm your GREAT aunt." The precocious response of my 5-year old self was "Oh, Aunt Dorothy, that doesn't mean you're any better, it just means you're older!" Well, that was certainly true and while Aunt Dorothy passed in 2001, I miss her dearly. She was indeed a "great" aunt and was one of my biggest fans as a young musician. She'd come to every concert I ever had, even when I was in college and the concert was a 2 hour drive away. She always believed in me and encourage my music. More than any other Dorothy, my dream has been at least in part named after her and Aunt Dor's picture will be included in the mural.
Thank you to all of the Dorothys, real and fictional, living, dead and yet to come who are inspirations to those of us in the arts. We salute you!