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Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

Margaret Stavrou, 73

Denim cowgirl is a clothes horse.


Erie and Dearborn Streets

You’ve got a feminine variation of the Canadian tuxedo going on today. I’m old, but I’m still just as crazy! I love to love people and show them how I feel. I have a handicapped brother, so every year I can get around, I consider it a blessing.

What do you call this look? Denim cowgirl! I’ve got a whole closet full of cowboy hats and biker boots.

Ever go horseback riding? Only when I go down south to Mississippi. I also go to Georgia, which is where I was born.

What brought your family north? My parents couldn’t find jobs down South, and my auntie told them to move where work was more plentiful. And, of course, there was more prejudice in those days. We couldn’t drink out of the water fountains and all that stuff. So that’s why I’m in Chi-ca-good now!

How did you get into cowboy culture? I saw the black cowboy groups riding horses down south around 57th Street in Washington Park. I started going and I’d wear my cowboy stuff.

What is it about the culture that appeals to you? Well, we were cowboys, too! There were black cowboys back in the day; you just didn’t see them as much in Westerns. Once in a while, you’d see a black cowhand on a ranch or something, but not like John Wayne or Gene Autry.

Any other gems in your closet? I have about 50 wigs. Whomever I feel like that day—Tina Turner or this, that or the other—is the one I wear. But I don’t wear none of that low-cut, revealing clothing. [Laughs] I love God too much!

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