Gallus Mag

gallus mag

You wouldn’t want to mess with the subject of today’s weird Wikipedia article, discovered by the Dabbler’s own Wikiworm…

Gallus Mag (real name unknown) was a 6-foot-tall female bouncer at a New York City Water Street bar called The Hole in the Wall in the early 19th century, who figures prominently in New York City folklore. Herbert Asbury’s book The Gangs of New York thus describes her:

“It was her custom, after she’d felled an obstreperous customer with her club, to clutch his ear between her teeth and so drag him to the door, amid the frenzied cheers of the onlookers. If her victim protested she bit his ear off, and having cast the fellow into the street she carefully deposited the detached member in a jar of alcohol behind the bar…. She was one of the most feared denizens on the waterfront and the police of the period shudderingly described her as the most savage female they’d ever encountered.” 

In the 2002 Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York, a character, a female street gangster, Hell-Cat Maggie, played by Cara Seymour, is a composite of Gallus Mag, Sadie the Goat, and the real-life Hell-Cat Maggie. 

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In between dealing with all things technological in the Dabbler engine room, Worm writes the weekly Wikiworm column every Saturday and our monthly Book Club newsletters.

4 thoughts on “Gallus Mag

    July 18, 2015 at 15:19

    “Gallus” once was in the southern US the term for what the rest of the US called “suspenders,” and that I believe the English call “braces”. It was a corruption of the word “gallows”; and though I don’t remember reading of the term “gallus” in use as far north as New York, I suspect that “Gallus Mag” was “Gallows Mag”.

      July 19, 2015 at 02:08

      nice! cool little adendum to this – thanks George!

    July 18, 2015 at 23:13

    Another modern-day Gallus Mag authors a website known as GenderTrender, and I think she likes to model herself as closely as possible on the 19th century New York lady. You wouldn’t want to annoy her, either, nor her followers!

    Lucy Melford

      July 19, 2015 at 02:11

      blimey – read about 20 seconds of the gendertrender website before the anger overwhelmed! Thanks for sharing though Lucy!

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