Black Maria

Black Maria

Black Maria is usually pronounced using the archaic pronunciation Mariah, rhyming with 'pariah', and so sometimes appears as "Black Mariah". It may refer to:




  • A card game Black Maria is an alternative name for Hearts.
  • Another card game involves a group of players with all cards dealt out to everyone. Each player discards all pairs and all FACE cards except the Queen of Spades. The players take it in turns to pick a card from the hand from the person on their right. If they make a pair they discard the pair into the centre of the pile. The game continues until all the cards have been discarded EXCEPT the Queen of Spades. The person with this card at the end of the game receives the punishment. Punishment is decided by cutting the deck. The value of the card is the total number of hits the loser receives the hardness is defined by the colour. Black indicates bruising, while red indicates blood. Thus black punishment is always softer than red.
  • [Poker] A variant of 7-card stud. Black Maria (in the Chicago area) designated the Queen of Spades as "Comes up, re-deal, re-ante; comes down, split the pot." A sub-variant, also from the Chicago area, allows the hole Queen of Spades to be used to kill the hand (but not split the pot). Other sub-variants exist, typically with the high spade (Ace high) in the hole splitting the pot... however, high spade in the hole or "High Chicago" are more common terms. Another sub-variant played in the Bridgeport/Chintown area of Chicago plays queen of spades re-deals/re-antes, and the next card following a non-spade Queen being designated as wild (this wild card can change as play progresses). All queens including a queen of spades (if it is in the hole) are wild as well. Low spade in the hole spilts the pot, with the final of the 7 cards dealt up or down depending on the players preference.
  • The "Black Maria" film studio created by Thomas Edison. See Edison's Black Maria.
  • "The Black Maria" was the nickname of a guitarist from local Adelaide band "The Committee of Public Safety", commonly known as "C.O.P.S.".
  • The phrase "Black Maria" occurs in the song "The Guns of Brixton" by the British punk band The Clash: You know it means no mercy/They caught him with a gun/No need for the Black Maria/Goodbye to the Brixton sun.
  • The song "Afterhours" by The Sisters of Mercy contains the lyrics "One more night spent on your mirror, Black Maria, in your eyes / This stuff so strange and lonely, England fades away, In your eyes".
  • The song "The Bacchanal Affair" by It Dies Today on the CD Sirens (2006) "Tonight, we're drunk upon our nostalgia, So raise a glass to the black maria."
  • The song "The Edison Museum" by They Might Be Giants refers to Edison's Black Maria: "Just outside the gate/I look into the courtyard,/Underneath a gathering thunderstorm./Through the iron bars/I see the Black Maria/Revolving slowly on its platform."
  • The song "Hang 'Em High" by My Chemical Romance contains the lyrics "The angels just cut out her tongue, call her Black Mariah"
  • Referenced as a paddy wagon in "Saturday Night Fishfry" by R&B artist Louis Jordan.
  • The song Curse of Millhaven by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds refers to the "Black Mariah": "Well I confessed to all these crimes and they put me on trial/I was laughing when they took me away/Off to the asylum in an old black Mariah/It ain't home, but you know, it's fucking better than jail."
  • The song "Adios Hermanos" by Paul Simon from his musical "The Capeman" contains the lyrics "And we rode that black maria/through the streets of spanish harlem/calling old friends on the corners/just to lay our prayers upon them."

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