26  Preservation in Print • April 2011 www.prcno.org SHE LED AN ALL-FEMALE jazz  band in the 1930s. She ran one of the  first openly gay bars in the country, with  customers including Rock Hudson,  Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams  and Gore Vidal. She was a musician  and businesswoman whose establish- ments helped define New Orleans’  lively social scene until the 1960s.   In a time when women were sel- dom more than wives and mothers,  Yvonne “Miss Dixie” Fasnacht defied  stereotypes by effortlessly rising as a  leader in not one, but two male-dom- inated fields as a jazz musician and  a bar owner. And in the process, she  helped redefine New Orleans’ social  world by running two classy and well- loved bars, both named “Dixie’s Bar  of Music,” which were havens for the  then-persecuted gay community.    Miss Dixie shattered all expecta- tions of how a “good woman” of the  early 20th century should act. And  yet, she couldn’t be more loved and  respected by all who speak of her.   Miss Dixie’s New Orleans was one  that embraced the vibrant, larger- than-life character of the city — and all  those who wished to celebrate it. For  15 years, Dixie’s Bar of Music, located  at 701 Bourbon St., attracted a diverse  clientele, gay and straight alike, who  could relax and socialize in an atmo- sphere that was upscale and welcom- ing enough to remain non-threaten- ing to the police, who would regularly  raid establishments known for serving  gay patrons. The bar was originally  located on St. Charles downtown and  rose to fame at that location across  from the St. Charles Hotel. However,  when they moved the bar to the  French Quarter in 1949, Dixie and  her sister Irma embraced the addition  of the bohemian clientele living in  the historic neighborhood. The sisters  planted their roots deep on Bourbon  Street, living above the bar in the  years it was open and just three blocks  down for decades after it closed.    In fact, it was only last year that  Miss Dixie, now 100 years old, left  Bourbon Street. Even after Dixie’s Bar  of Music closed in 1964, Dixie and  Irma were queens of Bourbon, resid- ing at 1024 Bourbon St. for years and  hosting legendary Mardi Gras celebra- tions. Held annually in their tropical  courtyard, Dixie and Irma would serve  mountains of red beans and rice, roast  beef and ham to costumed revelers, re- members Frank Gagnard, a longtime  entertainment writer and critic for  the Times Picayune. And everyone was  welcome — from locals to homeless  people to senators and congressmen,  the crowd was diverse, and everyone  celebrated together.   It was this same inviting atmo- sphere that defined her club on the  corner of Bourbon and St. Philip,  Gagnard said. All were welcome — as  long as they behaved. “She never al- lowed untoward behavior in her bar,  even on Carnival day,” he said. “I re- member once, someone had written  in graffiti on the men’s room wall,  ‘Who will tie me up and beat me and  make me their slave?’ And someone  else wrote, ‘Miss Dixie, if she catches  you writing on her wall!’”   Miss Dixie’s lineage made her ca- reer choice — and subsequent success  — obvious. Her last name, Fasnacht,  is translated in Switzerland, the home  of her ancestors, as “carnival” or  “festival.” She grew up amongst bars  and music venues, her father being a  career bartender at some of the city’s  nicest hotel and standalone bars.  And she was raised frequenting the  French Quarter, which was home to  her mother’s family. The New Or- leans native, born in 1910, was simply  made to be a famed local hostess.   Dixie was inspired by the sights,  and especially the sounds, that she  would experience in the French  Quarter. Entranced as a child by the  music she’d hear wafting from the  neighborhood’s homes and bars, she  professed her love of music early in  life. When she was nine, her father  bought her a clarinet, and Irma,  her older sister, enrolled her in the  Francis T. Nicholls School, where  she studied the arts. (In addition to  Miss Dixie’s Bourbon Street By Danielle Del Sol YVONNE “DIXIE” FASNACHT’S JAZZ LEGACY IS SCATTERED IN BUILDINGS AND MUSEUMS ACROSS NEW ORLEANS, BUT HER HOME FOR 60 YEARS WAS A BOURBON STREET OF A BYGONE ERA. Above: An undated portrait of Yvonne “Miss Dixie” Fasnacht, courtesy of Jay Dunaway, a longtime tenant and friend of Miss Dixie’s. “Every day, without fail, we’d meet in the courtyard of the house at 5 o’clock for a cocktail,” he said. At top: The mural that was commissioned for the first location of Dixie’s Bar of Music on St. Charles now hangs in the U.S. Mint building on Esplanade Avenue. (Courtesy of the Collections of the Louisiana State Museum)