hello sucker

Texas was one of the first entrepreneurs to see the vast potential for profit in selling liquor during prohibition. At first, she partnered a gambler and bar owner named Larry Fay, called the El Fey Club. She was soon running her own speakeasy  called the 300 Club (151 W. 54th St.) that served illegal booze, accompanied by pretty hostesses  and chorus girls who served mainly to distract customers from how much their drinks were costing. She was arrested several times, but always claimed that any liquor had been brought in by the customers themselves. Legend has it that the joint was raided one night when the Prince of Wales was there. She popped an apron on him and hid him in the kitchen, washing dishes.

Texas contributed a number of phrases to the popular vernacular. Her trademark welcome was "Hello, Suckers!" She coined the term "butter and egg men" to refer to her well-heeled customers, and noted that "a man could get hurt falling off a bar stool." She always demanded her patrons "give the little ladies great big hand" after the floor show. She had a regular newspaper column, and appeared in the occasional Broadway show (critics agreed that she sang with more gusto than skill).

Whenever a club was raided once too often, it would vanish and another would rise at a new address. There was the Salon Royale (310 W. 58th St.), and there was Club Intime (203-211 W. 54th St.). Finally, there was the Argonaut (back to 151 W. 54th St.).

She gave marriage one more try. In a 1928 interview for Vanity Fair she mentioned both Johnson and David Townsend, a businessman. Mr. Moynahan had disappeared.

When the depression hit, it hit hardest at the businesses based upon entertainment. That included speakeasies. Texas knew the ride was over, so she set off to reinvent herself one more time.

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