Rainey’s sexual involvement with women was no secret with both colleagues and audiences. The advertisement for the song (above, click to enlarge) shows her dressed as a man, obviously flirting with two women, while a policeman keeps an eye on her.
The song’s lyrics include:
They said I do it, ain’t nobody caught me/Sure got to prove it on me
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends/They must’ve been women, ‘cause I don’t like no men
It’s true I wear a collar and tie/Make the wind blow all the while
‘Cause they say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me/They sure got to prove it on me
This according to Blues legacies and black feminism: “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y. Davis (New York: Pantheon, 1998 p. 39)
Today is Rainey’s 130th birthday! Below, the 1928 recording.