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June 8, 2021


Hudson, NY


Recorded by

Asa Mendelsohn

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Over the past five years, Wheeler has lived and worked at the heart of the community and restaurant that is Lil’ Deb’s Oasis in Hudson, New York. In this oral history on June 8, 2021, Wheeler, a Taurus, reflects on his decision to leave what he affectionately calls The Little Deborah’s Finishing School for Wayward Girls. Wheeler speaks about what he’s learned at Lil’ Deb’s, where he’s found himself in many roles: server, front house manager, wine-buyer, creative decision tie-breaker between artist-chef-owners Carla Perez-Gallardo and Hannah Black, and performer. He describes what it has meant for him to become a person here. In the second half of the interview, he speaks about being affected by the conditions of the housing market while also playing a part in the gentrification of Hudson, as a white person who did not grow up here, and as a worker at a restaurant included in many tourist guides. He holds this complexity and gratitude as he moves into this next chapter of his life. This interview may be of special significance to those interested in queer-trans community, love, and labor within service and nightlife industries — and those interested in how creative and business partnerships are and are not like romantic relationships.

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Interviewer Bio:
Asa Mendelsohn

Asa is an artist, teacher, and eldest son of white, Jewish New Yorkers. Committed to close listening as a transformative practice, he is participating in the Oral History Summer School as a student. He is an Aries.

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

Part of this interview may be played in a radio broadcast or podcast.

Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”

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