Quantcast
Anti-Gay Violence Addressed in Video for Hozier's Hit Song "Take Me to Church"
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things ... About the 2015 Oscars

Remembering Fun Times at Greenwich Village's Monster Bar & Disco

 

Monster.bar.grove.street.nyc

 

One of ZeitGAYst's most visited posts is one I wrote about gay bars that have closed since I moved to New York in 1979.  Each one that closed made me apprehensive about my neighborhood bar, the Monster, meeting the same fate, so I've written a loving tribute to the Monster before the fact.  Located on Grove St., around the corner from my apartment, it's a lively place that's been around for 40 years.  Part of its appeal for me is that even if I stay longer than I planned I'll be home in minutes.  

 

Besides its proximity, I also like the place because of it's spaciousness and, at least until the invasion of the shrieking women, attracts a good mix of patrons of different ages, races and ethnic backgrounds; there's also little "attitude" to speak of.  If you prefer to sit and chat an expansive bar is upstairs; if you like to dance a a disco downstairs beckons; and if belting out show tunes is your talent, there's a piano you can gather around.  (Two complaints I have concern the bar's drinks: 1) they're smaller than those of other bars - for example, Industry in Hell's Kitchen, serves drinks that are twice as large for the same price; and 2) Happy Hour doesn't include cocktails with "brand" liquor - a detail that isn't made explicit.)

 

Happy Hour

 

The Monster opened its doors in the early '80s, which was around the time I moved into Manhattan.  My earliest memory there is dancing to Michael Jackson's Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough in the downstairs disco with my boyfriend Rick and a friend from work during Gay Pride weekend in 1983.  In its early years it didn't have the section of the bar where the piano now sits - that was a bookstore (legitimate, not "adult").  Thirty years later I often go there on Friday evenings after work, joined by my friends Andy and Maury.   Here are some other fond memories/photos:

 

  • When I was in between full-time jobs I'd often go there late on Tuesday for its Classic Disco night.  It was wonderful hearing the great classics of the 1970s and '80s.  In a post I wrote about my favorite disco lyrics, the opening paragraph mentioned this weekly event.

 

Monster_discoball

 

  • I once got six people kicked out for being disorderly.  It happened one Saturday night as I was seated at the bar and a boisterous group of guys and gals persisted in heavily leaning and pushing up against me (especially the women).  Despite asking them nicely a number of times not to do so, they continued invading my space.  Finally, I had enough and, summoning my inner "top", stood up and forcibly shoved them away from me.  It turns out they were being annoying all night and this was the excuse the door man had been waiting for to bounce them.  Happily, I wasn't tossed out with them.

 

Popeye

 

  • I had the good fortune of meeting hunky Channel 5 weatherman Mike Woods there on a Sunday evening last summer.  I introduced myself because I wanted to tell him of the post I had written about sexy news anchors that included him.  (Last fall People Magazine named him its "Sexiest Weatherman".)

 

Mikewoods.weatherman

 

  • Despite there being no electricity, the Monster was open after hurricane Sandy struck in late October 2012.  It had a generator and the bar stayed open as long as the ice supply held up.  I went there with friends the evening of Halloween.  On a night that's known for being crazy and crowded in the Village, that year was dark and quiet with no Halloween parade.  But inside it was cozy with candlelight and just neighborhood regulars.

 

Sandy_halloween

 

  • This is the bar where I had my first Negroni, vodka gimlet and martini.  One evening, in the summer of 2012, I splashed some of my martini on my Blackberry, which was sitting on the bar, and within 10 seconds it stopped working.  I loved this device but I ended up getting a smartphone instead.

 

Cocktails.gimlets 

 

  • It's the only bar where I know bartenders by name, such as Mitch and Jeremy (pictured together), Greg, Vinny, Stephen, Patrick, Raymond, Pedro, Achilles, Evan and Facundo (pictured).  However, once I knew their names I was always felt a sense of loss if I discovered they had left (as was the case with the last four names). 

 

Facundo.bartender

 

Jeremy.mitch.monsterbar

 

  • Because I live so close I can walk there quickly in the depths of winter without putting on a coat (saving me hundreds of dollars in coat check expenses over the years).
  • Some of the go-go dancers at Saturday night's Manster at Monster event were a joy to watch as they truly put on a high energy,  hot show.  But not all of them.  Once I called out one who was barely moving, just sort of posing (and the song playing was quite danceable) - and I reported him to the manager.  However, a few years this vibe disappeared as rent boys replaced the dancers, trying to charm patrons (ideally, drunk tourists) into buying a lap dance for $5/minute.  This change happened after bar manager, Mitch, who was the creative force behind Manster, left and his night was replaced by Squirt

 

Monster_angel

 

Vinny.vega.monster
Crowd favorite, Vinny Vega.

 

Monster_shaved.head.gogo

 

 

GALLERY OF PHOTOS

 

Monster_myshoes
Sitting at the bar ...

 

Monster_lighting

 

Monster.xmas

  Monsterbar.stairwell

 

Iron work at the monster
A nice piece of iron work hangs behind the booth at the entrance where patrons pay cover charge on weekends.

 

Miguel the monster
Miguel is one of the managers

Save

Save

Save

Save

 

Greek statue at monster
Are we at a bar or a museum? (Stands adjacent to the piano.)in

 

Monster tshirt

 

May 28 monster disco
As Alicia Bridges sang, "I love the nightlife, I love to boogie, on the disco round ..."

 

Rainbow chest at the monster bar
Pride weekend, 2017

Save

Save

Save

Save

 

Drink on bar
Absolut Mandarin with a splash of cranberry!

 

 

Monster glass wall
Cinder block glass wall on the stairwell leading downstairs to the dance floor

 

Singing by paino
A regular belts out a tune ("What I Did for Love" would be a good guess)

 


(Despite my fond memories, in recent years changes in the types of patrons it attracts, e.g., more straight women, many of them drunk and loud and with their boyfriends in tow, and most recently, repercussions of COVID-19, have reduced the Monster's appeal for me.)

Comments

Scott

Being so close to NJ, we would zoom in on Fridays and Saturdays and the monster was our first stop.
Do you have any info on Stanley the piano player....I was a newbie to the scene and he always made me laugh and shed my shyness.
Great trip down memory lane with your pivots!
Thank you

John Messina

In reply to Scott,
I used to be a bartender at The Monster when Stanely played piano there. He moved to Vegas many years ago and I lost touch with him. We sent cards and letters for years. Back and forth. I think he may have passed as, I haven't heard back from him in years.

be well,
John

Perry

I too tended bar at the Monster, mostly in the summer, for many years starting in ‘86. I still write to Stanley (just heard from him a week ago), who remains in Las Vegas. Hello to John and Billy. I miss you.
Perry

Robert Sheppard

I was a regular customer around 82-90 and knew many of the bartenders. John B. Became a good friend of mine. My husband was a bartender there before I started going there, but we met downstairs at The Monster in 1987 and celebrated 34 years together this year. His name is Murphy.
Robert

Chris Sullivan

Hi Perry - I'm so glad you keep in touch with Stanley. He was so important to me when I first came out in 1988 and started going to the Monster. I loved singing at the piano but was pretty shy in the beginning - but Stanley was kind and patient and made me feel comfortable and welcome. I spent many a Sunday afternoon singing Broadway standards with him and a host of other regulars through the 1990's. He would occassionally use double-consonance and call out certain guys he knew over the microphone. I was "Chris with his crafty (or charismatic) c**k". I always wanted to say a big "Thank You!" to him for all the years of fond memories. If you think of it next time you speak to him, I'd love for him to know that "Chris, with my crafty..."... sends a big hug to him, thanks him and wishes him all the best! Thank you!

Frankie

Thank you for this love letter. I too love the Monster. I discovered this world in 2011, met an old soul friend named David. He tried to teach me how to Tea Dance Sunday afternoons. Problem was, I always skipped dinner and crawled to my apartment by 9:00 pm. I also met my husband on the dance floor one Tuesday night. We hit it hard every Tuesday night for a few years. We would hang upstairs from 9:20 pm and drink until they opened the staircase at 10:00. Thank you Michael.. always ended the night with Take Me Home by Cher.. after I lost my shit to the Donna Summer MacArthur Park compilation earlier in the evening. I always felt we owned the floor... even if we didn't.. last days of disco I used to think.. You didn't mention Anthony, a bartender, I think he served in the military.. he was there at the time and left to pursue a degree. He was oh so... and worked upstairs. Want to give him a shout out in case he catches your post. Shout out to Jeremy and Mitch! We were there black-out Sandy and then took a taxi to Rawhide. A special night for those who were out. I live a very full life but I will be forever thankful for my time at Monster. I will take it to my grave. I met a lot of INCREDIBLE people along the way. I gladly spent A LOT of money over the bar as I sweated it out in the basement. We say we lived a lifetime in the near decade we went to Monster... and we did. Thank you to all who were there at the time and keep it going! Living on another coast now...
Frankie

Mynor

I remember all the original gorgeous bartenders from the Monster. Many passed on. Have not been at the Monster since the pandemic began. Kisses and much love to all the original bartenders, from the 80s.


Mynor

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)