Held at: John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center [Contact Us]1315 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Vincent P. Grimm, III, was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania in 1937 to Vincent, Jr. and Pearl Grimm. He knew at an early age that he was gay. After graduating from high school he enlisted in the U.S. Army, taking basic training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, followed by Ft. Devons, Massachusetts, before being transferred to Japan and on to Korea. After being honorably discharged, Vince studied and taught himself the fundamentals of engineering through the Pottstown Public Library system. He served as vice president of several companies and owner/partner of two.
In 1961 Vince met his life partner Will Kratz (1939-2017) at the Big Apple Bar in Reading, Pennsylvania. Along with other club members they planned, operated, and performed in revue shows for two decades as part of the XYZ Club. Will studied culinary arts in Paris and eventually opened his own cooking school and became an executive chef. The couple were avid travelers and together they retired to Cape May, New Jersey, in 1996. The couple were involved with the South Jersey AIDS Alliance and served as AIDS buddies in the New Hope, Pennsylvania area. Both were long involved with Gables of Cape May County, New Jersey, and Vince served as CEO. They became legal domestic partners in 2004 (after Vince's advocacy helped pass domestic partnership legislation for same sex couples in New Jersey) and married legally in 2013. The couple formed the Nguyen Xuan Quynh VinceWill Foundation, an educational foundation supporting fatherless children in Vietnam, in 2006. Will passed away in 2017.
The XYZ Club started in the mid-1950s, when three of Grimm's friends began performing in drag at private parties. Their act became popular and they began performing at a venue outside of Reading, Pennsylvania, called Gross's Grove. By 1959, the group moved their act to another Reading bar named the Zanzibar. Grimm and Kratz joined the show as performers and crew in 1961. In the summer of 1963, the group moved their show again to a private property in the woods outside of Reading, called Epler's Grove. During this time the group became more organized and called themselves the "XYZ" club to remain discreet.
The XYZ Club hosted performances and picnics at Epler's Grove from 1963 to at least 1981. The performances featured various acts and picnics offered food and alcohol. The XYZ Club advertised their events by word of mouth, flyers, and notices in gay and lesbian publications and developed a system of ticketing for admission by mail. Grimm and Kratz remained intimately involved with the XYZ Club, its structure, and events for many years. Throughout his time as a Club member, Grimm was aware of the risks of being involved with the organization. Club members and event attendees faced potential arrests and event closure by the Pennsylvania State Police and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Grimm and other Club members worried that complaints from locals about their events could lead to negative interactions with state law enforcement. The XYZ Club stopped their events at Epler's Grove in the late 1970s. By 1981, the Club was offering picnics, skating events, bingo, and dance parties at various locations in Reading, PA, including Willow Glen Park and the Red Star Saloon. It is unclear when the XYZ Club officially disbanded and stopped offering events.
The collection is comprised of three types of material: photocopies of biographical material about Vincent Grimm; a printed typescript of the memoir written by Grimm on the history of "The XYZ Club"; and five folders of color photographs spanning the early-1960s through the mid- to late-1970s, documenting drag shows performed by the XYZ Club during its two-decade existence. Photographs primarily depict review numbers performed on stage by drag queens and non-drag male roles, with a smaller number of backstage and dressing room scenes of the club. Some individuals are identified in pen on the backs of the photographs but most go unidentified.
Gift, Vincent P. Grimm, 2022
- John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives, William Way LGBT Community Center
- Finding Aid Author
- John Anderies and Colin McCrossan
- Finding Aid Date
- June 13, 2023
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives of the William Way LGBT Community Center.