Antics at the Bird Cage Theater

Bird Cage Theater

Down on the corner of Allen Street and 6th Street was the Bird Cage, a theater that catered more to Tombstone’s working class. It was built by a colorful character and former performer named Billy Hutchinson, for six hundred dollars and opened on December 23rd, 1881. The girls performed little singing and dancing skits for the audience made up of cowboys, cattle rustlers, smugglers and miners. They also worked the room as waitresses hustling drinks and turning tricks to supplement their income.

A reporter for the Tucson Star infiltrated the place in October 1882 and described some of the action: “A dizzy dame came along and seated herself alongside of me and playfully threw her arms around my neck and coaxingly desired me to ‘set ’em up.’….Her bosom was so painfully close to my cheeks that I believed I had again returned to my infantile period……She and I, after drinking the liquid, parted at last—she in search of some other gullible ‘gummie.’ ”

The popular Uncle Tom’s Cabin played in June, 1882, Chaos occurred when little Eliza was being pursued by Simon Legree and his bloodhound while crossing the icy river. An inebriated cowboy, caught up in the drama pulled his sixgun and plugged the dog. The audience was outraged and pounced on the clueless cowboy who was finally rescued by a peace officer and hauled off to jail. The next day the cowboy, now sober and repentant, offered his horse to the troupe as recompense for the dog.

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