Vale Ivy Richter
The grand dame of Oxford St, Ivy Richert, has passed away unexpectedly on October 19. Richter was 86.
There would not be an Oxford Street scene without the endeavours of Ivy Richter, who opened Oxford Street’s first gay venue Ivy’s Birdcage in 1967. Despite claims that Darlinghurst was too rough and that gay men would never feel safe in the area, Richter went on to open her gay night club and hosted the city’s first drag shows at the venue.
Richter’s pioneering efforts paved the way for a slew of venues in and around Oxford Street including Ruby Reds, Patches, Cappriccios and The Exchange.
In an interview with SX’s Brad Court several years ago, Richter commented, Darlinghurst was never gay, but once people found a gay venue operating, they came to live around it.”
Ivy’s Birdcage was located on the corner of Oxford and Flinders Steet. The venue took up two floors of the building. The first floor was popular with local lesbians while the second floor was home to Sydney’s drag queens. It’s rumoured that when it rained the roof leaked and drag queens would pop up their umbrellas rather than leave the premises.
Ivy’s daughter Donna has fond memories of the venue, where should would often do her homework while the drag queens rehearsed their latest shows.
Richter also opened Chez Ivy at Bondi Junction which became a popular haunt with the Eastern suburbs LGBT community.
Whilst long retired from the scene, Richter is remembered fondly as a pioneer for LGBT people and is certainly responsible for turning Oxford street from drab to fab all those years ago.
Richter is survived by her children Chris and Donna and grandchildren Mia and Chez.
Ivy’s family and friends are invited to attend a celebration of her life at the South Chapel of the Eastern Suburbs Crematorium, Military Road, Matraville on Monday, October 28, at 1.30pm.