Created By: Radical Wellington Walking Tour
Like the Royal Oak Hotel, the Powder Puff (better known as the Powder Poof by its regulars) was one of a network of informal gay hangouts, along with Carmen’s Coffee Lounge, the Cave, the Sunset, and the Sorrento.
Chrissy Witoko, proclaimed "Queen of Wellington" on her 50th birthday, was known to have worked at and managed this infamous establishment. Wikoto was a significant figure of the Wellington transgender community, famous for the running of alternative spaces like the Powder Puff that welcomed the disenfranchised people of Wellington. This relationship between her extensive background in hospitality and the building of community for not only LGBT people, but those from many other alternative walks of life, demonstrates the way a city's space can be radicalised through the experiences and spaces it offers. Wikoto passed away in 2003.
Later on this tour, you will pass by the location of the French Maid, which opened in the 1940s as a gay-friendly coffeeshop, likewise one of many scattered throughout Wellington. Decades later, the tradition of nightlife spaces continues to enliven Wellington's LGBT community, but come the 1960s and 70s, these spaces were also used as places to openly organise protests and events, and discuss the issues of the time.
Want to learn more?
Tapatoru is a website that celebrates and brings together the Maori trans community of Wellington, whose commemoration of Chrissy Wikoto has helped inform this tour.
Photograph sourced from Chris Brickell's Mates & Lovers.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Walking Radical Wellington