Remembering Adventures at the Baths: A Gay Rite of Passage
Giving In to the Cult of Bearded Men

Gay Bowling: My Life In & Out of the Gutter




Since I grew up in Pittsburgh I have bowling in my blood (Pittsburgh is part of the Bowling Crescent which extends up through Akron, Cleveland, Detroit and Toledo).  My parents both bowled in leagues, as did I in high school.  I even took a bowling class in college.  When I moved to New York after college I brought my ball and bag with me and for about three years, between 1981 and 1984, I bowled in a gay bowling league.  Twelve teams met every Tuesday at Bowlmor Lanes on University Place in Greenwich Village (there were also leagues on other nights).  My team was called '1001 Adventures', named after our captain's travel agency.  Besides the captain, Paul Albano, there was also Bo, Ron, Tony and myself (and Bo's twin sister, Linda, served as our alternate).


Although it was a fun way to socialize with sixty or seventy gay men,  this activity caused me some strife for a couple of reasons.  First, I had trouble converting spares.  My ball would go beautifully down the center of the lane but all too often one pin was left standing and I'd have trouble converting it into a spare.  This frustrated the hell out of me.  A second source for strife was the cruisy atmosphere, which created some friction between me and my boyfriend Rick (who didn't bowl).  I actually had an affair with one bowler and that precipitated a brief break up a few months after Rick and I moved in together in the spring of 1983.




Sadly, our team captain succumbed to AIDS complications in 1984.  He was only 43 years old and was the first person I knew to die from the disease.  Another teammate and the two fellows I had dalliances with also died later in the '80s.  Additionally, the elderly night manager of Bowlmor was murdered, beaten to death with a bowling bowl for the money in the cash drawer.  Finally, I became disillusioned when it turned out the president of the league was accused of pocketing our league's dues; because of this dues were being raised.  I quit after the 1984 season and never picked up my ball and bag from the locker.  I haven't bowled since.  (Just one month after writing this post I learned that Bowlmor had closed its doors - after 76 years of operation.  And in early 2016 the entire block was razed.) )




I realize I haven't painted a very rosy picture of my time at the alleys, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless (I particularly liked being scorekeeper).  And it wasn't all angst.  In fact, I won two trophies - for high series during the summer of 1982 and in fall/winter 1983 for rolling the highest score with handicap (236 + 50).  Thinking about it now, perhaps I should give it a second try.








Hi, I came across your article after Googling “gay mens bowling league NYC 80’s and it came up. I googled it b/c my favorite Uncle…Tim was a New Yorker in the 80’s and bowled in a mens gay bowling league. By any chance, did your league give out glass Apples as trophy’s or keepsakes? I have a clear glass apple that was his and a red one exists as well. I look at that Apple every day and wonder about the league, what is was called, if many of the members are still around and if others have the glass apples.

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