Structurally audacious ... The story of Greenwell and the Sweet Gum Head, one of 10,000 American discos opened by the decade’s midpoint, pulses with energy — more so than the sections on Smith, whose struggles with The Barb can occasionally be repetitive ... Throughout, the book is shot through with elegant digressions about songs integral to the drag scene, and the story of how disco, with the aid of 'Saturday Night Fever,' helped mainstream queer life ... It’s a fizzy tale of civil rights, quaaludes and music ... The historical record suffers mightily because of the AIDS epidemic. People who would have lived to tell glorious tales rapidly died, and the number of survivors continues to shrink. That vast absence means that chronicles of queer life vanish before there’s a chance to document them at all. When stories such as these get told, it is a cause for celebration.
... deeply researched, fascinating ... Though Atlanta is only one city, it serves here as an effective microcosm of American gay life in the ’70s, and its story is an important addition to the history of gay life in America.
Padgett sketches both profiles with evenhanded journalistic precision while grounding the book’s core at the Sweet Gum Head ... The author illustrates both the intimacy and the nasty melodrama of nightclub life, and he demonstrates the significant achievements of Smith’s activism, the scourge of Christian crusader Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaigns, and Smith’s eventual downfall due to his drug addiction. Padgett also acknowledges Sweet Gum owner Frank Powell, who made his club a mecca of self-expression. The author’s analysis also encompasses themes of identity and gender fluidity and creatively marks the progress made by Southern queer communities in terms of sexual freedom and equal rights ... A balanced, colorfully depicted portrait of a Southern LGBTQ+ movement.