Scandalous Conduct / Newport 1919

June 24, 2021 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Griswold House


An Episcopal minister. 41 naval recruits. A zealous newspaper editor. A pandemic. A drag show. A beanstalk. The YMCA. A future president of the United States.

At the close of World War I, the US Navy sparked national scandal after news broke about an undercover operation to stamp out “immoral acts” in Newport, Rhode Island. Dozens of sailors and civilian men were implicated in this covert raid on Newport’s gay scene. Meanwhile, the Navy was also producing a lavish production of Jack and the Beanstalk, touring the show around New England to drum up support and entice young men to enlist. The show featured a 25-piece orchestra and a cast of over 100, with quite a few Navy men performing in drag.

Join interdisciplinary artists Jason Tranchida and Matthew Lawrence for a fascinating talk that uncovers a little known facet of Naval culture in 1919 Newport. Focused on the US Navy’s use of musical theater as a marketing tool, they’ll also touch on music of the era, the Jack and the Beanstalk story, a brief history of Vaudeville, and how all this material relates to Tranchida’s and Lawrence’s larger, multi-year project Scandalous Conduct / Newport 1919.

The Newport Art Museum is proud to partner with NewportOUT on this event and kick off Newport Pride Week, taking place June 25-27. Pride Week celebrates community and promotes love, acceptance, inclusivity, and diversity of LGBTQ+ identities through events and experiences held all over Newport. The Museum and NewportOUT aim to ensure Newport is an open, inviting and accessible place for LGBTQ+ visitors.

About our Speakers

Matthew Lawrence & Jason Tranchida
are project-based interdisciplinary artists and curators based in Providence, Rhode Island. Together they produce the queer art magazine Headmaster, crafting assignments for artists and then publishing the resulting projects. The collaboration-themed ninth issue of the print publication will launch in Summer 2021. Some of Headmaster’s nearly 100 contributors have included Wolfgang Tillmans, Liz Collins, Nicholas Galanin, Alexander Chee, Derrick Woods-Morrow and Slava Mogutin. Tranchida and Lawrence have also produced live performances locally with the RISD Museum, Dean Hotel, and PVDFest.


Head shots by: Nelson Villarreal

The Scandalous Newport project has been generously supported by: