A Night at The Sweet Gum Head

A Night at The Sweet Gum Head tells an epic but intimate story of Atlanta in the 1970s. It’s the story of gay-rights activist Bill Smith and of John Greenwell, who performed as the legendary Rachel Wells at the Sweet Gum Head, the “Showplace of the South.” Sweet Gum Head vividly reanimates a decade of drag, drugs, and disco—while it reminds us all that sometimes, to find out who we really are, we have to become someone else. 

Amazon (print, Kindle, and audiobook)

Audiobook from Penguin Random House (sample of “Sweet Gum Head“)

Apple iBooks

Barnes & Noble

Books a Million



Sweet Gum Head soundtrack on Spotify


The New York Times: “When stories such as these get told, it is a cause for celebration.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Drag, drugs and disco: When Atlanta was a center of the gay revolution”

Atlanta Magazine: “In A Night at the Sweet Gum Head, journalist Martin Padgett tells Atlanta’s overlooked queer history during the disco decade”

Bitter Southerner: An Excerpt from A Night at the Sweet Gum Head

The Southern Review of Books: “The Sweet Gum Head: A Place for All Kinds of Radical Queerness”

The A.V. Club: “From the cops who conducted raids to the government that let AIDS decimate communities, Sweet Gum Head writes a chapter of queer history that was once lost to violent homophobia.”

WABE: “‘A Night At The Sweet Gum Head’ Shows Intimate Side Of Atlanta’s Queer, Disco Heyday”

Kirkus Reviews: “A balanced, colorfully depicted portrait of a Southern LGBTQ+ movement.”

Atlanta History Center Author Talks: Martin Padgett, A Night at the Sweet Gum Head (with video)