Betty Inada was a Sacramento native and icon of the Nisei jazz scene. Seeking fame, she immigrated from the United States to Japan, where she became a popular jazz singer and movie star. Pacific Film Archive.
Celebrating California’s Capital City
The state of California has long been known for its independent spirit and the many colorful characters that have called it home. While Los Angeles and San Francisco love to showcase their more flamboyant citizens, other cities in the Golden State also lay claim to remarkable residents. In his book
Wicked Sacramento author William Burg has unearthed many of these larger-than-life individuals; Yesterday’s America pays tribute to California’s capital city with this photo gallery of celebrated, if sometimes notorious, salacious Sacramentans.
Anna Madah Hyers, a Sacramento native, achieved worldwide fame as an opera singer with her sister Emma and retired to Sacramento after her travels. Susheel Bibbs collection. Cherry de Saint Maurice, queen of the Tenderloin. Known for her beauty and elegance, as well as her business acumen, Cherry de Saint Maurice was the proprietor of a brothel known as the Cherry Club. She was a fierce advocate for the legalization of her enterprise, and after many scrapes with the law, was murdered by several of her associates in 1913. Joe Fuski, an Italian immigrant, filled the power vacuum left after the toleration of legal prostitution ended in Sacramento. Fuski’s case became fodder for eugenics advocates calling for strictly limited immigration from Italy and many other countries. California State Archives. Ancil Hoffman in a boxing pose, circa 1910. Standing five feet and one inch tall and weighing 110 pounds, Hoffman had a reputation for throwing a fearful punch. He transitioned from boxing to business with great success. Center for Sacramento History. Agnes Miyakawa, Sacramento native, returning from France via steamship after her triumph on the stage of Paris’s Opéra Comique. Gary Miyakawa. Laverie Cooper, a Sacramento native who performed on vaudeville stages under the name Charmion, demonstrates her remarkable muscular development in this single-bicep pose. Wisconsin Historical Society. Lee Leonard was one of many traveling drag performers who visited Sacramento venues, including the Ron-D-Voo Club’s “Boys Will Be Girls” revue in the 1950s and the East Sacramento club the Driftwood in the early 1960s. Leonard continued performing until the 1970s and released comedy albums of her drag routine. JD Doyle. Before-and-after photographs of Tamara Rees, army paratrooper during World War II and the third person in the United States to undergo gender transition surgery. Transas City. Frank Sebastian, born Fenolio Sebastiano, was an Italian immigrant whose legendary Cotton Club was the toast of Los Angeles during Prohibition. After losing the club, he relocated to Sacramento and created another entertainment empire. Center for Sacramento History.
Go more in depth on these and other salacious Sacramentans in the book, Wicked Sacramento.