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TIMES SQUARE:
A GAY HISTORY
TIMES SQUARE 42ND STREET TIMES SQUARE AREA ASSORTED LOCATIONS MORE ASSORTED LOCATIONS
TIMES SQUARE BUILDING "THE DEUCE" STUDIO 54 CLEO'S BAR THE CORDUROY CLUB
BRYANT PARK GRAND CENTRAL STATION THE PENN POST HOTEL/BATHS BLUE'S BAR CLUB USA
ASTOR HOTEL BAR THE GALAXY DISCO THE BARREL HOUSE THE SANCTUARY DISCO THE PANSY CLUB
SUBWAY T-ROOM THE ADONIS THEATRE CAT'S BAR ARISTON BATHS LOUIS'S RESTAURANT
XENON SALLY'S HIDEAWAY THE TENTH FLOOR NEW YORK, NEW YORK BONDS INTERNATIONAL CASINO

For information on "Sally's Hideaway" visit this very informative website Sallys-Hideaway.com



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THE TIMES SQUARE BUILDING, (1 TIMES SQUARE) In 1927 it was reported that a Mr. Farley, who owned a newstand in the basement complained, "whenever the fleet comes into town, every sailor who wants his dick licked comes to the Times Square Building. It seems to be common knowledge among the sailors that the Times Square Building is the place to go if they want to meet fairies." He was unhappy about so many unruly sailors loitering around his newstand, and disapproving of their actions. Also in the 1920's/1930's the Liggetts Drugstore (ground floor) was a well known meeting place for men. At one point in 1927 the management of the drugstore called police to drive out the large number of men hanging about the premises. During the raid police arrested enough men to fill TWO police paddy wagons.

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"THE DEUCE" As Forty-Second Street was known through-out the 60's, 70's and very early 80's. The Duece was populated by hustlers, johns, grifters, and other seedy characters. This never ending carnival of sex, and decadence went 24 hours a day. Peepshops, porno movie theaters attracted New Yorkers and tourists that wanted to "get off" annonymously, and easily. Today, in the late 1990's the late "Duece" has been sanitized by the city and is home to Disney, and tourists.

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Huzbears: the site for and about Bear Couples

Studio 54 Opening Invite Dancers at Studio 54 STUDIO 54, 254 WEST 54TH STREET (BETWEEN 7/8TH AVENUES) Opened in 1977 (and closed by the IRS in 1981) by the late Steve Rubell and his partner Ian Schrager. The Building originally built as an opera house/dinner theatre, and converted in the 50's a CBS radio/television studio. Rubell and Schrager created what would become the late 1970's home of celebrities, and politicos all taking part in a circus like bacchanalia. In order to get by the stringent door policy, ordinary people would dress up in outragous costumes...glitter, sequins and gold/silver body paint ruled. From over the dance floor lights, confetti, and foam cut-outs, would descend into the dancing crowd.
Though the disco is long closed, it is now home to the Kander and Ebb revival of "Cabaret," and once again is called "Studio 54."

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Cleo's Ninth Avenue Bar CLEO'S NINTH AVENUE SALOON, 656 Ninth Avenue (at 46th Street). One of the oldest gay bars in the area opened when this part of town was still very undesirable/and seedy. It quickly became popular with gay locals and theatergoers. The quiet pub interior is a laid-back alternative to nearby Restaurant Row. The older crowd is mostly mellow, despite their apparent passion for loud disco music. It's a fairly mixed group of suit and casual, male and female.

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THE CORDUROY CLUB, 240 WEST 38TH STREET (BETWEEN 7/8TH AVENUES), In pre-Stonewall New York (1960's) The Corduroy Club was a private club for gay men and women. In this three-storey building it held card-parties, movies, plays, dinners as an alternative to the ever growing bar scene. It boasted a membership of over a thousand men and woman at its height.

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William Cullen Bryant Statue T-Room in Bryant Park BRYANT PARK In the 20's/30's it became well known to straight and gay men as a meeting place "for young fairies." The Automat across 42nd Street and the bushes behind the 42nd Street Library were particularly notorious for clandestine meetings, (near the Gertrude Stein statue). In September 1931 the police launched a round-up of apparent homosexuals that would gather near the park on 42nd Street. But the "degenerates" slowly returned and could be seen plying their trade in the night. In 1944 Mayor La Guardia began closing it at night to "prevent undesirables from gathering." In 1960 author John Rechy wrote in his book, City of Night, of hustlers "(Men in the) shadowy fringes(of the park) with male hungry looks."

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Grand Central Terminal GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL(T-ROOM), 42ND STREET AT LEXINGTON. In the 70's long before the restoration of Grand Central, the terminal had gotten quite seedy, and was alomost torn down. The Men's room was located downstairs through the upstairs waiting room. As you descended the stairs you would view a long wall of dozens of urinals, always crowded with men openly cruising, glancing into their neighbors urinal. However, around a corner and to the right of the urinals were the toilets, they were in large changing rooms with sinks (from the days when train travel was the norm, and you'd need to refresh yourself after a long train ride). These toilets/changing rooms were large enough to hold at least two/three men, and there was very minimal security in those days.
If two (or more) men didn't have a place of their own to have sex, the toilets/changing rooms were very convenient.

But with the restoration of GCT, the toilets have been moved, and are no longer the gay cruising heaven that they once were.

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THE PENN POST HOTEL/BATHS, 304 WEST 31ST STREET (AT EIGHTH AVENUE). In the basement of what was a rundown transient hotel, was the Penn Post Baths. During the 1920's it attracted a more assorted group of men then the nearbye Everard, mainly because of it's cheaper prices, and it's location across from Penn Station. It consisted of a large room filled with beds, and chairs. It also had a small steam room/shower. Because it didn't have any private rooms men would engage in sex openly through-out.

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BLUE'S BAR, 264 WEST 43RD STREET (ACROSS FROM THE NY TIMES BUILDING). Blue's was a popular gay bar with young blacks in the 70's and early 80's. In September 1982 20 cops raided, shouting, "This is a mother-fucking raid! Every faggot to the rear!" 12 men were hurt and $30,000 was sustained in property damage. Gay protests followed, but just under two weeks later the police raided yet again. Blue's soon closed. It was believed that the raids were pushed along by the powerful (and disapproving) New York Times with offices directly across the street.

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CLUB USA, ____WEST 47TH STREET (BETWEEN EIGHTH & BROADWAY) Opened in the fall of 1991, by Peter Gatien of The Limelight. This huge disco built in what was once a piano factory had rooms and funiture designed by outragous French designer Jean Paul Gautier. Featuring a NYC/Times Square motif, even down to peepshow video booths on the second floor. Next to the Hotel Edison, which Promoter Steven Cohn held his infamous Sleaze Ball's in the late 70's.
In 1998 the long empty Club USA building was torn down so that the site could be used for a new hotel.

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ASTOR HOTEL BAR (CORNER OF 45TH STREET AND 7TH AVENUE). The bar at the Hotel Astor had been a gay meeting place since 1910, but it reached its height of popularity in WWII when it had national reputation among gay servicemen as a place to meet civilians when passing through New York. Gay men gathered on one side of the black circular bar, where management allowed them to congregate as long as they were not obvious. Using code words, certain topics of conversation, or wearing clothes fashionable among gay men, but not stereotypically so. Were the ways men would detect who was of like mind. Alfred Kinsey interviewed men in the lobby about their sex lives for his "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" -according to Gore Vidal. Also accorded to Vidal, "that during the war (WWII) men would pack themselves six deep at the bar for 'a go in the Astor waters."

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THE GALAXY DISCO, ___WEST 42ND STREET (AT NINTH AVENUE).

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THE BARREL HOUSE (228 WEST 42ND STREET BETWEEN 7/8TH AVENUES) This was the most famous sailor-prostitute-hustler bar of the era (1930's). Closed by the SLA (State Liquor Authority) in the months before the 1939 Worlds Fair opened. Wanting to clean up 42nd Street before the legions of tourists arrived (sounds familiar huh?) The owners were advised by police to "put salt in (gay men's) drinks or to not serve them...or be shut down." Durring WWII it became The Marine Grill and attracted the same rough and tumble crowd as before. On this stretch of 42nd Street and up to Sixth Avenue men would gather (loiter) in and around several cheap luncheonettes and in sailor (and hustler) bars such as The Pink Elephant that was located under the Sixth Avenue El trains.

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The Sanctuary THE SANCTUARY DISCO, 407 WEST 43RD STREET, (AT NINTH AVENUE) Originally built n 1889 as a German Baptist Church, was in the 1970's The Sanctuary Disco. It was one of the first large discos in New York City. Before the mega-disco's took over in the eighties. It is now an Off-Broadway theatre, The WestSide Theatre, which has been running the popular "Vagina Monologues." since 1999.

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THE PANSY CLUB, 204 WEST 48TH STREET) In 1930/31 female impersonators and drag shows were held here nightly. It was hosted by nationally known impersonator, "The Creole Fashion Plate" aka Karyl Norman. It was advertised as "a bevy of beautiful girls in 'something different' entitled 'Pansies On Parade." It was closed in 1931 after a deadly gunfight took place.

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TIMES SQUARE SUBWAY STATION RESTROOM (AKA "THE SUNKEN GARDENS") New York City subway washrooms became major sexual playgrounds in the early part of the century. Men that met on the subway could rendezvous there easily, and those that wanted quick sex on the way home knew that certain t-rooms would accommodate them. Men of little means were afforded a place to get their rocks off. Most subway restrooms could offer such encounters, but certain ones had serious reputations. By the 30's the Times Square men's room was so widely known it was refered to as the "Sunken Gardens." Possibly a reference to a song by Beatrice Lillie about the fairies at the bottom of her garden. In order to control the restroom action the Vice Squad hid policemen in air vents behind the urinals, arresting any men they observed cavorting. In the 70's the Times Square Restroom (along with most other subway bathrooms) was closed by the MTA.

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THE ADONIS THEATER, 693 EIGHTH AVENUE AT 51ST STREET. In 1997 developer Harry Macklowe purchased the property for nearly $10 million in order to build the boxy 300-unit apartment building that stands here now. For years The Adonis Theatre had been a gay mecca on Eighth Avenue. One of the most notorious sex theaters in the city. It was crowded at most times of the day, and night. Sleazy, and dark, it attracted a fun, fast crowd. You could even buy small tubs of crisco at the concession stand! If one didn't have the $7 admission you could easily meet someone infront of the theater for a quick rendezvous at some other location.

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CAT'S BAR, 232 WEST 48TH STREET. Named after the Broadway show of the same name. Cats featured a multitude of Broadway show momentos, and was a popular neighborhood hangout. But was more known for being a place where one could pick up a hustler for little $$ in the late 1980's.

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THE ARISTON BATHHOUSE (N/E CORNER OF 55TH B'WAY) In 1902, this Bathhouse located in the basement of the 12-storey Ariston Apartment Hotel had a predominately homosexual clientele. In early 1903 it's "BAD" reputation was known to the District Attorney, William Jerome, and as reported to the Governor, "(the Ariston Baths was)the resort of persons for the purpose of sodomy and that sodomy was regularly practiced here." A customer after paying $1 and checking his valuables, was assigned a private dressing room, and given a sheet to drape over his shoulder when he disrobed. It had a swimming pool, masseurs, manacurists, a small gymnasium, steam room & sauna. Men were quite open about their sexual activities here. And on frequent occassions, "overt homosexual activities" were witnessed by the police, in the dormitory and cooling rooms. In one cooling room police noted dozens of sexual encounters, some with more then two men. This room had no lights - it was only dimly illuminated from gaslight in the next-door palour. It was stated that one police officer "observed a 53 year old Irish pantryman have sex with NINE different men, most of whom indicated their sexual interest with gestures." This account was according to court papers. The Ariston Baths was raided on a Saturday night (2/21/1903) and 78 men were detained. Though the building is gone you can get an idea of what it looked like, the building on the south east corner of 55th and Broadway is its sister.

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LOUIS'S RESTAURANT, WEST 49TH STREET (BETWEEN 5/6TH AVENUES) & THE JEWEL RESTAURANT WEST 48TH STREET (BETWEEN 5/6TH AVENUES) The Louis Restaurant and it's second venture The Jewel Restaurant's were busy meeting places for succesful gay men and women that lived in the Times Square theater district in the 1920's. The restaurants became as famous in gay circles as the most famous village boits. Gay people came to get an inexpensive meal, and hangout an "to see, and be seen." Eventually, they became known to anti-vice investigators as "hang-outs for fairies and lady lovers." In 1924 they received a mention in a gossip sheet as the "rendezvous of the queer smart trade." In 1925 investigators recorded that, "wild parties (are) suppose(d) to go on on (the restauarnt's) upper floors."

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XENON DISCO, 124 WEST 43RD STREET (BETWEEN 6TH/7TH AVENUES), The old Henry Miller Theater build in 1918 became the alternative chic disco to Studio 54 in 1977. It was well known for it's elaborate neon lighting over the dance floor. It's door policy was more liberal than the "tight" policy at nearby Studio 54. Acording to Time Magazine JFK Jr. was a regular in the late 70's. It now is a legit Broadway Theater, was the original home for the current revival of Kander and Ebb's "Cabaret" before being forced to move to Studio 54, do to the fatal collapse of scaffolding during the construction of the nearbye Conde Nast Building (4 Times Square).

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SALLY'S HIDEAWAY, 264 WEST 43RD STREET. As Brian Lantelme says on his great tribute site to Sallys, Sally-Hideaway.com The original location of the club was open from, "1986 to 1992. It occupied a small, narrow, one-story site that had formerly been the home of "Blue's," itself a Times Square landmark." also, "where Black and Latin drag queens and hustlers were in their element, where sex was more a business than a form of recreation." Brian has alowed me to use some of his text here, but for the full story (and to see some of his great photos) please visit his site.

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THE TENTH FLOOR DISCO, ___WEST 28TH STREET (ACROSS FROM THE EVERHARD BATHS). The first true private gay disco in the 1970's. It catered to a very glamorous, and chic gay crowd. Not a mega-disco, more of an intimate space. In Andrew Holleran's "Dancer From The Dance" (the quintisential 1970's gay novel) it was refered to as the Twelfth Floor.

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, DISCOTHEQUE, 33 WEST 52ND STREET (BTWEENT 5TH/6TH AVENUES) Lasting from 1977 till 1981, this club featured a large dancefloor that welcomed the throngs that were turned away from Studio 54 (and their ever so infamous Door Policy). On two floors covered with neon you could lounge on plush overstuffed couches.
The Building was torned down in 1982 to make way the Deutchland Bank Building, and offers the public an open air plaza where New York, New York once stood.

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BONDS INTERNATIONAL CASINO, 1530 BROADWAY (BETWEEN 44TH/45TH STREETS) Opened in what had been Bond's Men Clothing Store as a disco in 1981 by John Addison, (see La Jardin in Greenwich Village: a gay History). It featured a musical grand circular staircase.

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