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March 2014

Shrinking Violets & Hothouse Flowers in the Men's Locker Room

Lockerroom2 MenslockerroomsignA locker room is a cross-section of gym members all possessing unique quirks when it comes to body image.  I find myself most fascinated by two types - those guys who timidly change and, at the other end of the spectrum, the extroverts who can't spend enough time strutting around and putting on a little show.  And their lockers are often side-by-side, making the contrast even more striking. 


The "hothouse flowers" take their time drying off, shaving, putting on moisturizer.  Some do this with everything swinging in the breeze.  Others wear stylish/sexy briefs that they like to prance around in.  If a rotating stand was available I'm sure these preening peacocks would eagerly step up on it (a la American Bandstand's "spotlight dance"). 




Meanwhile, the shrinking violets change under their towels (aka "the towel dance") as if they were at a school for Muslim girls (I'm sure the Taliban would approve of their modesty).  And it's not the older, out-of-shape guys - it's the younger, cute ones.  Curiously, I've seen some of them strutting around on the workout floor in tight fitting shorts and tanks, yet they become blushing virgins in the close confines of the change room.  Perhaps it's generational, as many young adults when in high school weren't required to take showers after Phys Ed.  (Or, perhaps, it's one more anti-social behavior to blame on social media?)




As for me, I lean towards the hothouse category, i.e, I walk to the shower without wrapping my towel around myself because it's just a 10-scond walk, so why bother?  But I do hang my towel in front of my privates as I walk (after all, I didn't read Emily Post's book on etiquette for nothing.)




(While doing research on this subject I came across a post on the blog The Straight Dope titled, Why Do Men Do the "Underwear Towel Dance at the Gym?  The responses it elicited were very illuminating.)

The A+ List of Well-Known Gay & Lesbian Celebrities

Neil.patrick.harris NeilPatrickHarrisTonyAwardsShow2011_article_story_main Nph_motherAs I perceive it, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper, Ryan Murphy and Rachel Maddow are today's most overexposed gay personalities (or, as Barbara Walters might refer to them as, the most fascinating).  However, a Google search I did on more than 300 gay celebs turned up many others who seem equally high profile (the top 50 can be found at the end of this post).



Harvey.fierstein Melissa.etheridge20 years ago there were very few "out" celebrities so it made sense that the token few, e.g., Harvey Fierstein, Melissa Etheridge and kd lang, received extensive media coverage.  Since then there's been a proliferation of openly gay celebs (a good thing), but an inordinate amount of attention still goes to a rather select group. 



Calvinklein Steve.kmetkoOf the 300+ included in this analysis, the typical celeb had 500,000 search results.  They ranged from 16,000 (for Steve Kmetko - remember him?) to 19 million (Calvin Klein).  There were thirteen well-known LGBTs whose names each generated more than 5 million search results - I guess you can call them the gay A+ List.  At the other end of the spectrum, there were 50 celebs/former celebs with fewer than 100,000 mentions.  (For some perspective, I, a mere gay mortal, had 5,000).



Natesilver TomdaleyNaturally, some of the names among the top 50 have been in the news of late, including newly out actress Ellen Page, figure skater Johnny Weir and stats guru Nate Silver (pictured, far left).  (Surprisingly, neither Michael Sam or Jason Collins were in this select group, ranking 59th and 61st).  By age, six of the top 50 were older than 65, with Giorgio Armani, at 78, the oldest.  Seven were younger than 30, with Tom Daley (pictured) being the youngest, at 19.  Ellen DeGeneres had the most search results for lesbians, but only ten others joined her.



Tim.cook.apple Annie.leibovitzActors, singers and fashion designers dominate the upper echelons of gaydom, comprising two-thirds of the top 50.  (The designers were, no doubt, boosted by their eponymous clothing labels.)  Outside of these fields we have  statistician Nate Silver; personal trainer Jillian Michaels; Apple CEO Tim Cook; photographer Annie Leibovitz; blogger Perez Hilton; interior designer Nate Berkus; and drag performer Ru Paul



Rachel.maddow Anderson.cooper.vanity.fair EllenshowAnd where do the five I thought were most overexposed rank?  Neil Patrick Harris is second; Ellen is fifth and Anderson Cooper, 30th.  Rachel Maddow and Ryan Murphy, however, are further down the list at 65th and 68th, respectively.  Still respectable but not nearly as high as I expected.



Robbie.williams Jason.wu JakeshearsWho was I surprised to see among the elite 50?  Besides Calvin Klein at #1, I was also taken aback by the inclusion of singers Robbie Williams (pictured, far right), George Michael, Mika, Tracy Chapman and Boy George; Jillian Michaels fom Biggest Loser; fashion designers Alexander Wang, Jason Wu (pictured) and Zac Posen; and British actor Steven Fry.  And those who I was surprised to see lower than the top 100 include ABC's Robin Roberts (#112); fashion guru Tim Gunn (#142); sexy Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters (#164, pictured near right); diving legend Greg Louganis (#177) and gay blogger Andy Towle (#294).


(Ranked by # of Google Search Results)
    Search Results
  Profession (In Millions)
Calvin Klein Fashion Designer 19.1
Neil Patrick Harris Actor 14.6
Elton John Singer/Songwriter 12.7
Marc Jacobs Fashion Designer 11.0
Ellen DeGeneres Talk Show Host 10.8
Michael Kors Fashion Designer 10.6
Robbie Williams Singer 10.0
Ricky Martin Singer   9.8
Tom Ford Fashion Designer   9.4
Mika Singer   7.1
George Michael Singer/Songwriter   6.7
Pet Shop Boys Pop Music Duo   5.8
Adam Lambert Singer   5.4
Giorgio Armani Fashion Designer   4.6
Tegan & Sara Pop Music Duo   4.5
Rosie O'Donnell TV Personality   4.3
Alexander Wang Fashion Designer   4.3
Ellen Page Actress   4.2
Frank Ocean Rap Singer   3.6
Portia de Rossi Actress   3.4
Tim Cook Business Executive   3.0
Johnny Weir Figure Skater   2.5
Jillian Michaels Trainer   2.4
Jason Wu Fashion Designer   2.4
Zachary Quinto Actor   2.3
Don Lemon News Anchor   2.3
Jodie Foster Actress   2.3
Tracy Chapman Singer/Songwriter   2.2
Perez Hilton Blogger   2.2
Anderson Cooper News Anchor   2.2
Jean Paul Gaultier Fashon Designer   2.1
Zac Posen Fashion Designer   2.0
Lily Tomlin Actress   2.0
Nate Silver Statistician   2.0
Andy Cohen Cable TV Executive   2.0
Ian McKellen Actor   1.9
Annie Leibovitz Photographer   1.8
Jesse Tyler Ferguson Actor   1.7
RuPaul Drag Performer   1.7
Boy George Singer/Songwriter   1.7
John Galliano Fashion Designer   1.7
George Takei Actor   1.7
Nate Berkus Interior Designer   1.6
Graham Norton Talk Show Host   1.6
Matt Bomer Actor   1.6
Wentworth Miller Actor   1.6
Stephen Fry Actor   1.6
Diana Nyad Swimmer   1.6
Tom Daley Diver   1.5
Chris Colfer Actor   1.5
(For period 3/20-24/2014)    


The Year in Gay History: 2014



Jan. 19, 2014 - The gay-themed dramedy Looking, somewhat of an updated version of Queer as Folk, debuts on HBO.




Feb. 23, 2014 - Jason Collins becomes the first openly gay player to play in a NBA game when he takes the court for the Brooklyn Nets in a game against the LA Lakers.

Feb. 25, 2014 - The day after Uganda's president enacted a harsh anti-gay law the Red Pepper tabloid published on its front page a list of what it called the country's top 200 homosexuals.  It ran under the headline "EXPOSED". 

March 13, 2014 - The Centers for Disease Control reports the first case of direct transmission of HIV from lesbian sex.

March 17, 2014 - New York's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, is the second NYC mayor to boycott the St. Patrick's Day parade for its refusal to allow a contingent of gay Irish marchers to participate.  (The first mayor to boycott the parade was David Dinkins in 1993.)

May 10, 2014 - Three months after coming out 24-year-old Michael Sam becomes the first openly gay football player to be drafted by the NFL when the St. Louis Rams choose him.  News coverage shows him joyfully kissing and embracing his boyfriend (right) upon getting the phone call from the Rams.  (A few months later he was released by the team, picked up the Dallas Cowboys and released by them as well.)




May 14, 2014 - The CDC comes out in support of using the AIDS drug Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for sexually active men, the first government approved HIV prevention pill.

May 21, 2014 - Pennsylania's governor declines to contest the state's Supreme Court's decision overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage, thus making gay marriage legal in all nine states of the Northeast. 

May 21, 2014 - Season Five of Modern Family ends with Mitch and Cam's wedding.




May 25, 2014 - A movie version of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart airs on HBO.

May 27, 2014 - The medical drama Nightshift debuts on NBC as a summer replacement series.  One of the show's characters, played by Brendan Fehr, is a closeted doctor whose boyfriend (Luke MacFarlane from Brothers & Sisters) is fighting in Afghanistan. 

June 9, 2014 - In the HBO documentary, Remembering the Artist: Robert de Niro, Sr., Robert de Niro discusses his late father's homosexuality.

June 19, 2014 - The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church votes to change the definition of marriage from "a man and a woman" to "two people," and to allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages where it is legal.

Aug. 9, 2014 - The Ninth Gay Games begin in Cleveland, Ohio.




Sept 25, 2014 - In the premiere episode of ABC's drama How to Get Away With Murder, one gay character rims another - and there was no viewer uproar.

Sept. 27, 2014 - California becomes the first state to ban "gay/trans panic" legal defenses in murder cases.

Oct. 6, 2014 - In a decision that catches many by surprise the US Supreme Court lets all circuit court decisions stand that had struck down same-sex marriage bans in five states: Virginia, Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

Oct. 30, 2014 - Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to come out willingly.  He does so in an op-ed on Bloomberg Businesweek's website.




Nov. 14, 2014 - Derrick Gordon of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) becomes the first openly gay athlete of a Division I college to play a men's basketball game.

Dec. 23, 2014 - The FDA announces it is lifting the ban on gay men donating blood.  However, since the ban will continue for men who have had sex with a man in the past 12 months, most gay men will still be prohibited from donating.


(To read about gay pop culture and history from other years, double click here.)


Hurts So Good - My Favorite Songs of Heartache & Heartbreak

GaybreakupI haven't had my heart broken very often.  Truth be told, more often than not I've been the one who's been the heart breaker.  Still, only by having loved and lost can one truly appreciate songs that convey the pain of heartache.  For moments like that I created a playlist on my iPod called "Despair" that has close to 250 songs on it.  Touching upon genres as varied as Show Tunes, Adult Contemporary, Top 40 and Disco, I chose two dozen of the most heart-rending.  All are guaranteed to produce a lump in your throat, a tear in the eye.  So get a tissue ready as we immerse ourselves in a world of love gone wrong ...


  • You've Got to Learn/Nina Simone (1965) - This song is a primer on how to handle yourself with dignity after having your heart broken.  One of many songs on my list with a killer ending.  Excerpt: You've got to learn to leave the table when love's no longer being served.  To listen to the entire song double click here.




  • I'm Gonna Be Strong/Gene Pitney (1964) - Speaking of powerful endings, this one absolutely gives me the chills.  And I'm tearing up just typing the following lyrics:


I'll smile and say

Don't you worry, I'm fine

And you'll never know, darling

After you kiss me good-bye

How I'll break down and cryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!


  • Nothing but Heartaches/The Supremes (1965) - What I really love about this song is the background vocals provided by Flo Ballard and Mary WilsonSong excerpt: The more that my love has grown, the less love he has shown.  He makes promises he don't keep; sometime I don't see him all week.  The clip I've chosen is a performance on the 1960s music show Hullabaloo.




  • I Get Along Without You Very Well - Composed in 1939 by Hoagy Carmichael, I wasn't aware of it until I heard it on Carly Simon's 1981 album Torch.  This is a song about trying to convince yourself that you're OK after a break up.
  • Not a Day Goes By - This is probably the best known song from the 1981 Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along.  Bernadette Peters' rendition at a tribute to Sondheim in London is powerfully beautiful.  It was another track found on Carly Simon's Torch LP. 




  • Can't Smile Without You/Barry Manilow (1978) - After a rather wimpy start the song builds to a satisfying climax.  Despairing excerpt: I can't smile without you, I can't laugh and I can't sing, I'm finding it hard to do anything.




  • I Don't Want to Walk Without You/Harry James & His Orchestra/vocal by Helen Forest (1942) - Yep, another song where the singer thought he'd do just fine without his former lover.  Woeful excerpt: Oh, baby, please come back or you'll break my heart for me, 'cause I don't want to walk without you no siree.




  • Say Something/Alex & Sierra (2013) - A beautiful ballad with mournful lyrics about walking away from a relationship.  The duo Alex & Sierra were winners of the X-Factor competition in 2013.  Heartbreaking excerpt: Say something, I'm giving up on you.  And I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you.
  • The One You Love/Glenn Frey (1982) - When this song, which starts with a great sax riff, was popular I was in the kind of relationship portrayed in it, i.e., the person I was dating was still in love with his ex, who treated him badly (in my case I eventually prevailed). 


Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you

Or are you going back to the one you love

Someone's gonna cry when they learn they've lost you

Someone's gonna thank the stars above  


  • Bluer Than Blue/Michel Johnson (1978) - Adult contemporary at its finest, this song tells the oft-told tale of someone trying to convince himself he's happy being single again, yet it's just not working out that way:


                I don't have to miss no TV shows

                I can start my whole life over

                Change the numbers on my telephone

                But the nights will sure be colder

                And I'm bluer than blue, sadder than sad ...


  • Cry/Godley & Creme (1985) - The music video for this song is in black & white and shows one crying face morphing into another (all of them rather homely).  It ends ends with anguished cries/howls.




  • Lead Me On/Maxine Nightngale (1979).  Maxine had a big disco hit in 1976 with Right Back to Where Started From, then three years later she scored with this plaintive ballad.  Forlorn excerpt: I'd rather be a fool with a broken heart than someone who has never had a part of you.
  • Shattered Dreams/Johnny Hates Jazz (1988) - The title of this top-10 hit from 1988 says it all.  However, because the band members are cute the pain of the lyrics is lessened somewhat.  Excerpt:  "I thought it was you who would do me no wrong.  But now all you've given me is shattered dreams." 




  • Tell Me on a Sunday - In this song the singer tells her lover how she'd prefer to be told about their break-up, i.e., gently rather than with high drama.  From the show Song and Dance, Bernadette Peters won the 1986 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance.  (Double click here to listen to Betty Buckley's version, which I think is stronger than Bernadette's.)




  • Everywhere I Go/Katharine McPhee (2007) - Ah, I've been there girlfriend.  This song tells the tale of a guy who dogged her around even though he was never really interested.  Sorrowful excerpt: So it annoys me you wasn't man enough, to come and tell me that I was never the one like you said I was.
  • But Not For Me - Written by George & Ira Gershwin for the 1930 musical Girl Crazy.  I've always got a kick from the clever wordplay at the end of the song: The climax to the plot should be a wedding knot, but there's no knot for me.  (There are a number of different endings to the song.)




  • Take Me in Your Arms/Kim Weston (1966) - This is my favorite.  It's fast tempo belies its desperately sad lyrics.  I remember tearing up while listening to it as I was running on the treadmill.  Eight years after Kim Weston's version, it got a rock treatment by the Doobie Brothers


I'm losing you and my happiness

My life is over, I must confess

I'll never, never see your smiling face no more

I'll never, never hear your knock on my door

Before you leave me, leave me behind

Let me feel happy just one more time

Take me in your arms

Rock me, rock me a little while - oh darling                       


  • Helpless - Another song of distress by Kim Weston, it was also covered by the Manhattan Transfer.  I'm amused by the song's use of the word "abusion", which I first thought was a made-up word.  Heartsick excerpt: Without a word, without a warning, you left my life one early morning.




  • I'd Rather/Luther Vandross (2002) - This song was first released as a ballad and later received a dance remix.  It tells the tale of a change of heart after a break up.  However, this appears to be somewhat of a tempestuous relationship. 


I'd rather have bad times with you

Than good times with someone else

I'd rather be beside you in a storm

Than safe & warm by myself

I'd rather have hard times together

Than to have it easy apart

I'd rather have the one who holds my heart


  • Hurt (1961) - Another song I was introduced to by Carly Simon's Torch album.  However, the original by Timi Yuro, which went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, is more powerful:


                I'm so hurt to think that you lied to me

                I'm hurt, way down deep inside of me

                You said your love was true

                And we'd never, ever part

                Now you want someone new

                And it breaks my heart


  • Losing My Mind - Another Sondheim classic, this one is from FolliesBarbara Cook performed it in the original 1970 production; when she was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2011, Glenn Close sang it.  Written as a heartrending ballad, Liza Minnelli, in collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys, released a dance version of it in 1989.  Heart-wrenching excerpt: You said you loved me - or were you just being kind?  Or am I losing my mind?




  • I Who Have Nothing - Another classic ballad that got the disco treatment, this one by the legendary Sylvester in 1979.  Excerpt: I, I who have nothing.  I, I who have no one.


  • When Will I See You Again?/The Three Degrees (1974) - A fine example of Philly Soul, it tackles the time worn question that comes with dating.  I think it's one of the smoothest, slinkiest sad songs ever produced.  The video I've chosen, from a German TV show called Cultnacht is surreal.  Taking place in some sort of nightclub-like TV studio, the Aryan audience, drinking and smoking at their tables, is completely unresponsive to the performance.  Hilarious. 


                When will I see you again?

                When will our hearts beat together?

                Are we in love, or just friends?

                Is this my beginning or is this the end?


  • I Just Can't Get You Out of My Mind/The Four Tops (1973) - This  legendary R&B group had two dozen top 40 hits but this great song, inexplicably, isn't one of them.  I know of it thanks to the '60s Soul station on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, which my summer share out in the Pines subscribed to.  The song tells the sad tale of a lover leaving without a trace and the maddening emptiness the bereft partner must contend with.  Choice exceprt: Oh it just ain't right what I'm going through.  Ten to one, I'm betting, there's no forgetting you.




Here are some other music-themed posts I've written the you might find interesting: 

Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci ... Favorite Disco Lyrics

Favorite Songs About New York - From a Gay Perspective

Silly Disco Songs - And What's Wrong With That?
























2014 Oscars Recap - Ellen DeGeneres Hosts a Kinder, Gentler Academy Awards

Selfie.at.oscarsAt first I wasn't enthusiastic about Ellen DeGeneres being host of the 2014 Academy Awards, but she eventually won me over (one of her charms is her ability to do this).  Her extensive mingling with the audience gave the telecast somewhat of a relaxed, "Golden Globes" feel.  Not only were the illustrious attendees good sports, they enthusiastically participated in Ellen's pizza delivery scheme and then a group selfie (right).  And I was thankful she didn't dance.


  • Ellen diverged from her anodyne presentation style just once, when she remarked, in the show's opening minutes, that the guy who came as Liza looked incredible.  (Liza was there, along with siblings Lorna Luft and Joey Luft, because of a tribute to The Wizard of Oz.)



  • John Travolta actually had somewhat human looking hair, but his mangling of singer Idina Menzel's name (inexplicably calling her Adela Dazeem) made his appearance a new classic Oscar moment.




  • The cutest boy at the ceremony was Anne Hathaway.




  • Jared Leto, made a moving acceptance speech upon winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.  However, after mentioning the troubles in Ukraine and Venezuela, he failed to say anything about Uganda and its newly instituted anti-gay laws.  Considering the subject matter of the movie he won the Oscar for, this was an unfortunate omission.




  • Leto's tribute to his mother, who was seated next to him in the audience, brought to mind a similar heartfelt maternal tribute by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman when he won his Best Actor Oscar for Capote in 2006.




  • One of the co-winners for Best Make Up, Robin Matthews (Dallas Buyers Club), made a very poignant remark during her acceptance speech about AIDS awareness among today's younger generation.
  • Kim Novak's appearance was a sadly embarrassing one.  There was a jarring disparity between the voice of an 81-year-old woman coming from a body that resembled a blow-up doll.  Her appearance and somewhat confused state reminded me of AbFab's Eddie.  Novak's appearance might not have been so distressing if she had been paired instead with Bill Murray as her co-presenter rather than Matthew McConaughey.  Then an hour later 68-year-old Goldie Hawn, desperately clinging to her once youthful days of the 1970s (or trying to compete with daughter Kate Hudson?), presented an award.  Struggling with aging is the unfortunate reality of Hollywood.




  • Honor Roll of Dashing Men: Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt and Chris Pine.





  • The two best looking presenter couples: Jason Sudeikis & Kate Hudson and Chris Hemsworth & Charlize Theron.




  • 48 persons were honored during the "In Memoriam" segment (well above the typical 25 or 30), including Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin and Esther Williams.  It was capped off by a divine appearance by Bette Midler.




  • Pharrell William's performance of his nominated song Happy was the most entertaining of the Best Song performances, especially when he went into the audience and danced with Lupita Nyong'o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.  Another Best Song performer, Idina Minzel (aka Adela Dazeem), came in for a rough landing at the end of her song, Let it Go, from the movie Frozen.  Lastly, guitarist Ezra Koenig's red socks perfectly matched the gown of singer Karen O during their performance of Moon Song from the movie Her.





  • Upon receiving her Oscar for Best Actress, Cate Blanchet said that receiving the award from Daniel Day Lewis "exacerbated the honor."  Unfortunately, exacerbate means "to make something worse."  She probably meant to say something like, "enhanced the honor."




  • Matthew McConaughey, who looked so dashing, gave an acceptance speech for Best Actor that not only was vapid and egocentric, but didn't once allude to the subject of his film.
  • Upon winning Best Picture, Steve McQueen, director of 12 Years a Slave,  managed to ramble on and thank two dozen people without mentioning one cast member.


Some reviews of the telecast criticized it for being boring.  Granted, there were no surprises as far as winners go, nonetheless I was entertained.  Those who were unenthusiastic may have been disappointed by a lack of rudeness or mean spiritedness - the norm of reality shows that blight the TV landscape.      






RIP to All the Gay Bars in New York City I've Known




The year 2013 saw the closing of two bars, both in Chelsea, that served and entertained a generation of gay customers from opposite ends of the "attitude" spectrum.  In March, leather-and-Levis Rawhide on 8th Ave. closed after 34 years, while Splash, with all of its muscle-tee hotties, closed its doors in August after 21 years.  Then three years later two other Chelsea mainstays, XES and g Lounge, were shuttered.  These closings had me reminiscing about all the bars I've frequented, and outlived, since moving to New York in 1979 (cue up "I'm Still Here" from Follies).  Of course, they represent just a fraction of those that have closed (e.g., I didn't hang out much in the East Village), but here are three dozen I remember (in alphabetical order):


BADLANDS (Christopher & West Side Highway)

It had one of the most memorable bar logos, a wolf howling at the moon.  It closed after two people were fatally shot there by a crazed man in the winter of 1981.




BARBARY COAST (7th Ave. near 14th St.)

Taking its name from old San Francisco's red-light district, this cozy bar had a vaulted ceiling from when it was a bank lobby.  Now closed for more than 20 years, I went there a few times in the first half of the 1980s when I lived on W. 15th St.  A lasting memory is when my boyfriend bought a one-month pass to the Chelsea Gym (also long gone) from an elderly patron who won it in a raffle there, and then gave it to me. 


BILLY'S (West Village or Chelsea)

This establishment is unique because I don't remember it, but apparently I was there because I wrote an entry about it in my journal from 1986.  (On April 26 I went there for its 2nd anniversary celebration and had champagne.)


BOGART'S (E. 59th St. between 2nd and 1st Avenues)

Its distinguishing characteristic was that it was within spitting distance of the Queensboro Bridge.  It had a piano in the front of the bar.


BOOTS & SADDLE (76 Christopher St.)

After "gracing" the corner near the famed Village Cigar in Sheridan Square for 41 years, Boots & Saddle  (lovingly referred to by some as Bras & Girdles) closed in the spring of 2015.  Although I went inside just once, taking a 15-second look-see, I feel like I've been to it often since I walked by it thousands of times.  However, this closing didn't mean the end for B&S, as it was reincarnated a block south on 7th Ave. South in a space that used to be Actors Playhouse, a cozy space for off-off-Broadway shows (and where Naked Boys Singing had a long run).  Alas, the new location didn't meet with success and it closed after only a few years.




BOY BAR (15 St. Mark's Place)

The East Village wasn't my stomping grounds, and this is the only bar I recall going to.  It had two levels.  And they had nice matchbooks.




THE BREAK (8th Ave./21st St.)

It occupied a somewhat cramped, narrow space that was a challenge to walk through.  Like so many other bars, it had a pool table in the back.  A few years after it closed a bar called The View opened in the same location, and also closed.


CHAMPS (W. 20th St. between 5th & 6th Avenues)

This was the earliest sports bar, located a few blocks north of Splash.  It had a bank of bleacher seats and a dance floor.  It opened in 1994 (two years after Splash) and lasted only a few years.




CHASE (W. 55th St.)

One of the first new gay bars in the vicinity of Hell's Kitchen, it opened around 2000.  It lasted just a few years, but it heralded the explosion of gay life in this neighborhood, albeit 5-10 blocks further south.




CHELSEA TRANSFER (8th Ave. in the Teens)

In business for just a brief time in the '90s, it had a beautiful curved mahogany bar (perhaps it was teak).  The few times I scoped out the place on a Saturday night there wasn't much of a crowd.




THE COCK RING (corner of Christopher St./West Side Highway)

This was the first place I danced with a man, in January 1980.  A few years later it closed when the building it was in was sold; after renovations, Uncle Charlie's opened a bar there in the mid-1980s, but it only lasted a few years.


COMPANY (Gramercy)

It was a bar and restaurant which I dined at perhaps half a dozen times in the 1980s.  I believe it was on Third Ave. around 30th St.


COWBOYS & COWGIRLS (E. 53rd St. between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)

Not to be confused with the Cowgirl Hall of Fame restaurant in the West Village, my lasting memory of this establishment was that I was there the night the US hockey team beat the Soviet Union during the 1980 Winter Olympics. 


CRAWFORDS (Upper East Side in the 80s)

Open very briefly.  I never went to it (to the Upper East Side?) but remember it for its ad in HX and Next, which showed Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.  Rather than her line, "Take out this bitch of a retaining wall and put a window where it ought to be", the ad has her saying, "Put a bar where a bar ought to be".




DANNY'S (corner of Christopher and Greenwich St.)

Although I've written in my journal about going to this bar in the early '80s,  for the life of me I don't remember anything about it.  It was later renovated and became the Village Styx.


'g' LOUNGE (W. 19th St. between 7th & 8th Avenues)

This bar was fine to go to with friends, but I didn't enjoy going there alone because it didn't have a lot of room to walk around in like Splash or The Monster.  Also, the music could be deafening.  I'd sometime go there on Friday evenings with friends, but the last time I set foot in the place was two or three years ago.  (g's space was taken over by another gay bar, Rebar, shortly thereafter.)


G bar   


HARRY'S BACK EAST (Third Ave./E. 80th St.)

This was the first NYC gay bar I set foot in, during the fall of 1979.  It was set up with a bar in the front and dance space in the back.  It closed in the early '80s.


KING (6th Ave. between W. 16th & W. 17th Streets)

It had three floors, with a dance floor on the second floor.


LAST CALL (Second Ave. just off 53rd St.) 

An elderly gentleman bought me a drink here after work on my 23rd birthday (at the time "elderly" to me probably meant late 40s).


NINTH CIRCLE (W. 10th St. between Greenwich Ave. & 7th Ave. South)

Once a steakhouse, it became popular in the 1970s and '80s with hustlers and their "admirers".  I walked in an out of it once.  Gone for 30 years, it now sits empty (after years as a restaurant).




NORTH DAKOTA (Third Ave./36th St.)

It closed around 1986, and Uncle Charlie's Midtown, which was originally a few blocks further north, took over its space.


PRIVATE EYES (Chelsea/between 5th & 6th Avenues in the W. 20s)

A bar with a dance floor.  I spent a rather disappointing New Year's Eve (1987) there with a boyfriend I broke up with a few weeks later.  (The blog Kenneth in the 212 has written a more in-depth post about this bar/club that you can find here.) 




RAWHIDE (8th Ave. & 21st St.)

One of those bars that suffered from the City's smoking ban as cigar and cigarette smoke was part of its "atmosphere".


REGENCY EAST (E. 58th St./near Third Ave.)

Before the Townhouse, there was Regency East, at the other end of E. 58th St.  Unlike the Townhouse, there were no steps to walk up so there was no need to worry about an embarrassing fall if you had too much to drink.  RE closed around 1990.




ROME (8th Ave. & 26th St.)

Open briefly, but it didn't attract much of a crowd, and then went after a straight clientele.


ROUNDS (E. 53 St./Second Ave.)

A high-end hustler's bar during the late '70s/early '80s with a nice restaurant.  My first ad agency job was in this neighborhood, and co-workers and I occasionally came here for birthday celebrations.





A comfortable, no-attitude place in the mold of Ty's in the West Village.  It was around for a long time before I paid a visit.  When I finally did go, I had a quick drink, looked around, wasn't inspired by what I saw and left.  I seem to recall it being on Second Avenue around 25th St.


SPLASH/SBNY (W. 17th St. between 5th and 6th Ave.)

I enjoyed going here because of its videos, spaciousness and roster of bare chested Chelsea boy bartenders.  I usually went during happy hour on Friday.  Splash has the distinction of being the only bar where I threw a drink in someone's face.




TRILOGY (next to the Christopher St. Path Station)

A nice little bar with a restaurant in the back (1980s), it later became the notorious Chi-Chi's, which attracted a loud, black/Hispanic crowd that many residents considered to be a blight on the neighborhood.  It closed around 2008, and is now a Thai fusion restaurant.



The "It" bar of the 1980s, this is the bar I frequented the most.  In 1990 and 1991, I lived across the street from it and could watch who was coming and going from my kitchen window (and I witnessed a number of hilarious cat fights out on the sidewalk.)





UNCLE CHARLIE'S SOUTH (Third Ave/38th St.)

This was the hopping bar in the late '70s/early '80s before a sister bar opened in the Village in 1981.  And if you were in the mood for dancing, the club Stix was close by on Second Ave. (in an earlier incarnation it was The Barefoot Boy).  And Uncle Charlie's restaurant was a block or two south on Third Ave.





UNCLE PAUL'S (upper Christopher St./near Sixth Ave.)

Another bar I may have been in only once or twice, it's now the bar Pieces.


THE VILLAGE STYX (corner of Christopher & Greenwich Streets)

This was a very attractive bar for Christopher St., with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the street.  It was open for only a few years and then became an XXX video store, with downstairs booths.  That survived much longer, more than 20 years.   


THE WORKS (Upper West Side/Columbus Ave. in the W. 80s)

Because of its location I didn't get to it very often, but I liked it.  It occupied a long, narrow space.




XES (24th St. between Sixth & Seventh Avenues)

Cramped in a cozy way, with a small outdoor garden, XES was in business for 12 years, opening in 2004.  I can recall going there just three times, once for an OP networking event, and the two other times were for a birthday gathering (same person).  Every time there it was raining so I never got to enjoy the garden.


Xes exterior1


XL (W. 16th St. near 9th Ave.)

With a smartly modern, two-level design, it was open just a short time, between 2000-2005.  The last time I was there was the weekend before 9-11.  Scenes from an episode of Sex in the City were filmed in its striking bathroom.




Finally, the t-shirt company Do You Remember sells a line of t-shirts that pay tribute to close to two dozen NYC bars/clubs from the past.  To visit the site double click here