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Johnny Delacroix

Talented clarinetist Johnny Delacroix and the other four members of the Cocoa Kids jazz band are characters appearing in the second volume Jason Lutes’ Berlin trilogy. Delacroix and the other band members have traveled from their home base of New York City to Paris and on to Berlin for a series of gigs secured by the band’s German promoter, a Berliner nicknamed Schnitzy. These concerts are at a few higher class clubs though most of them are at the Underbelly, a carabet that caters primarily to Berlin’s LGBTQ community.

Onstage Delacroix lets his love of music take over and enjoys the spotlight. Offstage he presents a reserved facade while hiding that he’s a risk taker when it comes to love and sex. The most prominent example of Delacroix’s risk taking behavior begins after the Cocoa Kids first concert at the Underbelly. After the show ends Delacroix will sneak away and have sex with Miss Pola, the cabaret’s main attraction. Initially the interest is sexual but they will become romantically linked. This may be a hedonistic Berlin at the end of the 1920s where Jim Crow laws aren’t on the books per se but racism exists in Germany just as it does in the United States. Lutes visually clues readers to this in the opening sequence as the band members converse between themselves and as the sequence continues Lutes changes focus to show the band sits in the back of a public bus. Lutes includes other overt incidents. Over time as romance enters into the relationship Delacroix and Pola are comfortable being seen as a couple when with the band whether at their hotel or the Underbelly.

Delacroix will continue to hide another part of himself from everyone he allows close: he’s also attracted to men. After observing late at night a public toilet from the window of their hotel, Delacroix sneaks out several nights later for some cruising. In another chapter the band have gathered to sign a six month contract to perform at the Underbelly. Miss Pola pours champagne which is a celebratory gift from her boss Herr Karl. Karl stands aloof and on display in a nearby doorway to get Delacroix’s attention and then quietly slips away waiting for the musician who discretely follows a few minutes later.

Lutes closes volume two with Johnny and Pola leaving Berlin to start a life together in Paris.

A note about Miss Pola. Lutes introduces her in chapter two of volume one. To make more money Pola is a nude model for a figure drawing class which is the setting in which Lutes introduces two main characters, Marthe Muller and Anna Lencke. Their profile can be read here.

Johnny Delacroix first appears in chapter one of Berlin (City of Smoke) volume two or issue 9 of the series.

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