"Masculine Women,
Feminine Men"

This song has always fascinated me, as it's one of the very first "queer" songs. Now it surely wasn't intended to be that way, but as we look back at it, infusing our own cultural biases into it, well, it's pretty appealing. So I've set up this page to honor it and all the versions of it recorded over the years.

Merritt Brunies and his Friars Inn Orchestra Left to Right: Gordon Pouliot, Bill Paley, Henry Brunies, Maurie Friedman, Merritt Brunies, Bill Creger, Norman Van Hook, Clarence Piper, Rip Logan.




Merritt Brunies led this orchestra at the Friars Inn at 343 S Wabash in Chicago. They got the gig after Merritt's brother George Brunies' band Friar's Society Orchestra vacated the job in 1924. Merrit's band stayed on at the Friar's Inn for three years before leaving for the Cinderella Ballroom. The Brunies' family produced several jazz musicians. Harry Brunies played trombone in the Friars Inn Orchestra and another of the Brunies brothers, Abbie was the leader of the Halfway House Orchestra back home in New Orleans.

Masculine Women, Feminine Men

Written by Edgar Leslie/James V. Monaco, and recorded by Merrit Brunies & His Friar's Inn Orchestra on Okeh 40593, 3/2/26

Note: these are the complete lyrics, from the piano roll version of the song. Only the lines in purple were used in the recorded version.

Hey Hey women are going mad, today
Hey Hey fellers are just as bad, I'll say
Go anywhere, just stand and stare
You'll say they're bugs when you
look at the clothes they wear

Masculine Women Feminine Men
which is the rooster which is the hen
It's hard to tell 'em apart today
And SAY...
Sister is busy learning to shave
Brother just loves his permanent wave
It's hard to tell 'em apart today
HEY HEY
Girls were girls and boys were boys
  when i was a tot,
Now we don't know who is who or
  even what's what
Knickers and trousers baggy and wide,
Nobody knows who's walking inside
Those Masculine Women Feminine Men

Masculine Women Feminine Men
Which is the rooster which is the hen
It's hard to tell 'em apart today
And SAY...
Auntie is smoking, rolling her own,
Uncle is always buying cologne
It's hard to tell 'em apart today
HEY HEY
You go and give your girl a kiss in the hall
But instead you find you're kissing
    her brother Paul
Mama's got a sweater up to her chin,
Papa's got a girtle holding him in
Those Masculine Women Feminine Men
Stop, Look, Listen and you'll agree... with me
Things are not what they used to be... you'll see
You say hello to Uncle Joe,
Then look again and you find it's your Aunti Flo
Masculine Women Feminine Men
Which is the rooster which is the hen
It's hard to tell 'em apart today
And SAY...
Wifey is playing billiards and pool,
Hubby is dressing kiddies for school
It's hard to tell 'em apart today
HEY HEY
Ever since the Prince of Wales in
    dresses was seen,
What does he intend to be the King or the Queen
Grandmother buys those tailor-made clothes
Grandfather tries to smell like a rose
Those Masculine Women Feminine Men

"Masculine Women, Feminine Men" has
been recorded by a surprising number of
artists, and was apparently quite popular
in the late 20's. Here are releases I've
found listed on the internet; I have a
few of these in my collection, but would
love to hear more. Click the to hear what I have...

Frank Harris (Irving Kaufman), (Columbia      569D, 1/29/26)
Bill Meyerl & Gwen Farrar (UK, 1926) 
Joy Boys (UK, 1926)
Harry Reser's Six Jumping Jacks (UK, 2/13/26) 
Bert Firman Orchestra (UK, 1926, inst.)
Cabaret Novelty Orchestra (Australia, 1926, inst.)
 
Hotel Savoy Opheans (HMV 5027, UK, 1927,      aka Savoy Havana Band)
Norah Blaney (in a British newsreel, 1929, she was the sometimes stage partner of Gwen Farrar)
George Melly (UK, 1984) 
True Endeavor Jug Band
     ("The Art of the Jug Band," 1963)
Margret Roadknight
                   ("Living in the Land of Oz," 1984,
      Aussie lesbian artist, issued in the
      U.S. on Redwood Records)
Spencer Washboard Kings    (UK, 1965) 
     ("Masculine Women Feminine Men" )
Bill Brooker's Jug Band (Dutch, 1976)  
           ("Crazy Words Crazy Tunes," Dutch)
Rio Trio (UK, 45 rpm, ~1990)
I
an Whitcomb ("Comedy Songs," 1996) 
Tom Robinson ("Castaway Club Vol. 7," 2000) 
Dirdy Birdies Jug Band ("Tracks," 2001) 
"Aint We Got Fun" Soundtrack (private, 2005)
Marc Almond ("At Bluegate's Field," 2008)
 

Also, an artist named Jon Strongbow recorded a song by that title on his 1989 cassette "A Normal Sort of Guy." It's not the same song, though interesting.

*****

 

Irving Kaufman (center), who also
recorded under many names,
including Frank Harris, at the Okeh
Recording Studio in 1927


         

Below, Australian pressing, 1926, Bert Firman's Cabaret Novelty Orchestra

True Endeavor Jug Band

Above, True Endeavor Jug Band, 1963
Below, Bill Brookers' Jugband, 1976

Below, whoever did the 45rpm cover artwork
for this 1965 version of "MWFM" sure did a good
job at capturing the feel of 1920's campiness

Below, obscure UK release from around 1990

Below, Ian Whitcomb CD, 1996

Tom Robinson Fan Club only CD, 2000

Above, by the Dirdy Birdies Jug Band, 2001. And their version is also found
on this 2007 various artists comp, by several modern jug bands.
Title is "National Jug Band Jubilee: Uncorking America's Happiest Music."

Australian Sheet Music

And, it's interesting that the sheet music below has identical artwork as the one printed in
Australia, but with a different center photo (and, someone wrote 5/15/26 on this copy)

And, the photo behind the photo has a pic has different singer...

Click to Download a pdf file of the sheetmusic

and below, two more.

 by Margaret Young

Below, there were even piano rolls of the song.

piano roll

   

Below, click images for modern versions, by Richard Halpern & Frederick Hodges

Below, instrumental piano roll version

Below, Marc Almond included the song on his 2008 CD/DVD, with additional lyrics

Click the page below for related information