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Grove Remembers Lois McIntosh in Touching Tribute

Charity & Meryl Facterman

                 By Jeannie

On June 20, a day crowded with Gay Pride celebration events, loyal friends gathered at Cherry’s for a memorial to the beloved Lois McIntosh the bar’s original co-owner, with her surviving spouse Meryl Facterman. Lois passed away last September 30

The gathering started as an intimate occasion and grew to SRO, just as all Lois’ shows were. (despite the fact that one well wisher observed “the younger people have no idea who she was”).

Toast: No Tears, just cheers as Lois wished

Meryl remembered that Lois said “when I go, you’re gonna have a party” and the crowd toasted Lois with champagne generously provided by current owners Donna Bianco and Jacqué Piazza.

Charity, who hosted the celebration memorial, launched into her signature song “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful,” saying she chose the Queens who were to entertain because they were all Lois’ favorites. “Lois gave me the biggest hug when I first came here. She returned later with (Charity was Miss Fire Island 1968) that lasted all my life”. “When You’re Good to Mama”.

Later she boasted: This is what 73 looks like folks – I’m still here”

  Donna Piranha, who met Lois and Meryl the first week she arrived here, 27 years ago, worked the room when not onstage,  and showed a tattoo of  her name that Roger tattooed  on her back “so he’ll remember my name when he’s back there”. She aid tribute with “Everywhere I go, every smile I see,” and, later, “The Greatest Love of all”.

Another favorite of Lois’,  Porsche “girl of a thousand voices” prefaced her song  “This will be” and “My sweet joy” with the remark that Lois’ partner Meryl was as much a drag queen as any of the  because “she changes her dresses twelve times a day” to everyone’s amusement.

Bella took the stage and revealed a secret she had all these years “Lois gave me this number many years ago – don’t tell Charity, and the secret is out “as she delivered Carmen Miranda’s “Weekend in Havana” and “Girl In Rio Janeiro” and “I’m a middle-aged woman (Hot flash!)”, followed by one of her standards for all the RG’s in Cherry Grove “I’m a Middle Aged Woman” (nobody works a crowd like Bella).

Next up to pay tribute was Ivana Cocktail who said “Lois and Meryl gave me a life here I Cherry Grove” then sang the appropriate “Friends,” and “Get this Party Started.”

Demi Tasse, our current Homecoming Queen, looked stunning as usual in a white Grecian gown and blond curls

The newly slim Dusty Roads delivered a rousing “Bring In The Men” when she was not working the room hostessing

 Robin Byrd performed an impromptu flag dance in the audience

Panzi joined the troupe with “He ain’t Mr. Right, but he’s Mr. Right Now.”

 Former student and then friend, Maria, told of how Lois would keep an eye on her when she in Cherry’s and cut her off one night when she was over served.

Attendees enjoyed the Italian food provided for guests.

The highlight of the event, and apparent surprise occurred when Nancy Famiglietti announced there will be a plaque on a bench with Lois’ name on the dock, another plaque on her favorite barstool and a street renamed Lois Lane complete with sign at entrance to Cherry’s.

Meryl, Charity, and Cherry’s Owners Donna Bianco & Jacqué Piazza with “Lois Lane”

But for me it was long time friend and associate Johnny Poole who absolutely melted the crowd with his visibly heartfelt words
“She was my sister, my go to woman” and in his own (Armstrong) voice “It’s a Wonderful World” (this picture is fuzzy because I was so overwhelmed by emotion)

 Attendees were each given a rose and paraded out onto Cherry’s dock to throw them in the Bay in remembrance.

 In the midst of a busy day there was a genuine moment of truth and emotion for a beloved Grove Icon, Lois McIntosh.