Updated as of 11/7/2022 at 3:00 p.m. ET
For a Chicago bar’s 45th anniversary party, the owners hired a ventriloquist who introduced a racist puppet of a Black woman…or what was supposed to be a Black woman, per Block Club Chicago. However, after the immediate outrage toward the caricature-like doll, the performer decided to hang up the act.
Jerry Halliday decided to retire his puppet which he named Sista Girl. Halliday insisted he’d never been served a complaint about the act for two decades until now.
“I have been doing my show for 20 years for thousands of people of all races to standing ovations and rave reviews in the press, then suddenly a handful of people at Touché attack me while the majority there were enjoying my show. The one-sided attacks on my act have been greatly exaggerated and with many total fabrications,” he said per Block Club Chicago.
To that, I can only reiterate what one audience member (a white one) said to him on stage, “Everyone in the crowd thinks this is a little weird for 2022.” I wonder what color those audiences were that seemed to have no problem with him making welfare-watermelon-baby mama jokes in a disgusting blaccent. One should know better in this post-George Floyd era.
Watch a clip from the act on YouTube:
Block Club Chicago’s previous report on the puppet described Halliday butchering AAVE trying to imitate a Black woman’s voice. Audience members left before the show was even over. One bartender, Cris Bleaux, was so disgusted, he quit mid-shift just to escape the racist mess on stage.
“The longer I was there, I started feeling nauseous. I reached a point where I realized my integrity is more than this job. I had to go,” said Bleaux via Block Club Chicago.
Images of “Sista Girl” circulated social media, not only from the performance but also from the bar’s advertisements. The bar held a town hall after the backlash.
Read the owner’s response from Block Club Chicago:
Chuck Rodocker, owner of Touché, said he and the bar leaders “apologize profusely and sincerely” for the performance. The bar will host a town hall to collect feedback 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Leather Archives & Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Ave.
“Hopefully, people will look at the 45-year history of the establishment over a 45-minute tasteless performance,” Rodocker said. “If there’s something we can do to support someone more in the future, we’d be more than happy to because we are one of the oldest gay bars in the city and always had a very diverse crowd that’s welcoming of women, people of color and people with disabilities.”