Friday, June 20, 2008

Men in Leather

In celebration of those vanished men in leather--many taken by the AIDS epidemic--enjoy my visual retrospective of the city's lost queer fetish clubs, showing them as they were yesterday...and what I discovered in their places today. Be sure to click the lavender club titles for more juicy info and images.

The Ramrod
394 West St.


photo: forgotten ny
380-390 West Street

photo: Richard Wandel

see Christopher's End

The Anvil: 1974-1986
500 West 14th St.
photo from bitter queen

The Mineshaft: 1976-1985
835 Washington St.
photo from bitter queen


28 9th Ave at 14th St.


The Eagle's Nest
142 11th Ave at 21st St.

see also: Bitter Queen
The Lure
409 W. 13th St.

The Spike: 1974-2000
120 11th Ave at 20th St.
More reading:
Christopher's End
NY Press: Pornology Villager: Bring Back Beefcake
Gay History of the Village


knicksbasketballny said...

This is interesting because my aunt and my mother used to be very good friends with a lot of that crowd.

I am sure my aunt must have gone with them to the clubs too but that was well before I was born.

I do remember lots of guys coming over to visit my family once in a while but unfortunately I was too young at the time to really know much about anything.

I do remember as I grew older the visits became less and less frequent and eventually stopped.

Several years later (after asking) I was told most that of them had passed away.

Very sad.

Anonymous said...

Thought provoking and saddening photo essay, to be sure.

Only quibble regards something that drives me bonkers to hear or read: there is no such thing as 'assless chaps'. Chaps are by nature assless, otherwise they wouldn't BE chaps. Thanks.

Alex in NYC said...

Mister Moss: You've been Gawked. Nice work.

ken mac said...

I love your site and have linked it on my photo blog of fading NYC:

Thanks, and keep it up! To hell with these bastards!

so_chic_darling said...

The only place that's still doing a good sex business is the Liberty Inn and that's been there for at least 20 years,it's the kind of love motel where johns and hookers straight and gay go partake of the world's oldest profession. I bet there's a good story there for you Jeremiah!

JJ Daddy-O said...

I remember working on photos for a story in New York magazine around '87-88 of the (then) new chinese restaurant that had opened on West St. in what had formerly been a gay bar called Peter Rabbit (I think). Even way back then the effects of gentirfication, video porn, and the mainstreaming of gay culture were being felt.

Jeremiah Moss said...

"assless chaps," yes, it's true, that's a redundancy. i guess i like the vivid image of chaps worn without denim underneath, highlighting the asslessness of them. but your quibble is correct.

ShatteredMonocle said...

First of all, wouldn't that make them "jeanless chaps" or "assfull chaps".

Also, there is a sleazy-looking 25-cent peep show going in on West 38th Street. There was a crew out there this afternoon and I asked if the signs were going up or coming down. He said they were going up.

Jeremiah, please keep your grim-reaper ass OUT of the Garment District.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean that you're gay? Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I've always thought that you're straight.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks everyone--i worked hard on this one, running around, tracking down addresses and taking pictures. glad to see lots of people enjoying it. as for the gay-or-straight question, are those the only available options?

Mr Peabody said...

Thanks for posting. I had many a fun time at some of these clubs in the 80's. I remember wearing chaps back then and riding my motorcycle in from NJ.

Richard Bacchus said...

A good friend of mine used to crank call "Musicians Wanted' ads, out of the Voice. He'd go through the whole interview, generally doing his best to ingratiate and appeal to them, and would end the interview by asking "Ok this all sounds pretty great but I have to ask, Gay or Straight," the responses without fail were hilarious.

Glad Your hunkered down in the E.Vill. I punked out and buggered off to Raleigh NC where the Leather Boys are ever so slightly more subtle. They actually all wait tables at the Outback Steakhouse, Tres tres Kinky.

Anonymous said...

I remember most of those places and what I remember was the subversive excitement of being somewhere soooooo not mainstream... All ancient history now. almost a dream, but glad to see evidence that I wasn't completely imagining that New York.

Anonymous said...

Gay or straight, you still need to get laid or at least take a break from the EV or NYC and perhaps that would alleviate your pessimism.

Ms. said...

I remember all those places back in the days when NYC was so cool & decadent, filled w/artists & creative people & not gentrified w/conservative yuppie trash. This is very sad indeed. I think one of the worst transformations was Hellfire & what that's turned into now. It went from a truly amazing "anything goes" bondage sex club filled w/bizarre colorful people,mistresses & slaves & tricks & johns to a cleaned up gentrified yuppie cafe!? I wonder if all those people eating at their pretentious cafe realize that while they're slurping their high priced coffee, that the layers & layers of body fluids & sexual secretions of all that gay S&M sex must still be excreting from the very walls that they touch. As,I'm sure those bodily juices from all those years of perversion & debauchery are still embedded deep onto those very bricks of the walls they touch hahaha! Now,that's something to laugh about. Maybe,somehow if they listen hard enough,they will hear the cries & moans of ecstasy & orgasms in the long lost spirits of Hellfire. But at last,it's still a damn shame to see all that fun & decadent history dying out in NYC between the old sex clubs & the death of Times Square porn theaters,all the character & charm is fading away. Someone needs to start things up again before it becomes a barren yuppie wasteland!!! Please! Is there still hope for the real Nyc?

ken mac said...

Straight or Gay? It doesn't matter. Jeremiah's excellent essay essentially shows yet another chain of mom and pop businesses given the axe.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I can't really cry any tears over this. Those leather bars displaced other establishments, probably decades-old watering holes visited by generations of New York immigrants. Did we cry for them when the Ramrod opened? The wheel turns and life goes on. And most of you are looking at that "that oh-so-wonderful, anything-goes" era through rose-colored glasses. You want to turn back the clock to a time when we were persecuted even more? When the streets weren't safe? When we were unwittingly facilitating an epidemic? No thanks.

Angus said...

excellent post - I also spent many happy hours in the L.U.R.E., Spike and others.

informed consumer said...

good story--what happened to the David Justice piece??can't find it--

bs said...

Love this post!
I was inspired to make my own post and linked back here.
Truth be told I swiped a couple of photos, but now I can't remember if I got them from you or bitterqueen or somewhere else. There are some great ones on the NYPL website, and a site called Colors of Leather too.
Anyway, I just happened upon your site and it's great!
Keep up the good work!

Lenny Waller said...

Thank you so much for the Men In Leather Post. As the operator of HELL FIRE & The Man Hole,in years past as well as Cell Block 28, & The Vault when it was at 28 9th Ave. Your Deiication in preserving the history is so greatly appreciated. Any time you want to do a story Please let me know.
In Leather & Pride,
Lenny Waller

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this well-written article. Especially enjoyed the before and after photos. Hope you do more of the same!

ish said...

You might enjoy my blog post about the old Spike and some of its music (with a link to free download).

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks for sharing the memories--ah, huey lewis and the news.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these pics. This past Saturday was the first time in about 5 years I walked down to the Meatpacking Dist. Boy was I saddened and shocked. The thing is you can smell the blood and fat from days past alongside all the expensive euro trash cologne. The new Little West 12th street vibe was not only decadent but apocalyptic. Also shocked to see Skyline Books gone and 791 Broadway (former home of frank O'hara and Elaine deKooning excavated out of existence. What's even more discouraging is how freakin' crowded NY is now. It's funny tho to see people eating where men used to fist each other...

Anonymous said...


Christopher Duquette said...

I was a dancer at the Gaiety 1976 - 1978, and many nights I was "homeless" (I was supposed to be in my StonyBrook dorm room studying my Freshmen year) so I would go to the Anvil as it was open 7 days and afterhours. I wrote at length about my crazy experiences at the Anvil and other underground clubs 1976 - 2004: 'Homo GoGo Man' by Christopher Duquette available on DonnaInk & Amazon. Love Jeremiah's website and the comments wherein.

Marko Antonio said...

I remember RAMROD from the late 70's through the mid 1980's on West Street,next to the small bar Sneakers and across from the old West Side Highway.Back then,that area was very sleazy,especially after dark.Known for non-stop "cruising"for anonymous sex;male and trans prostitutes galore under the highway, sex on the piers, in the bar restrooms, in the old Keller Hotel a block away and in and out of the open trucks at the notorious "truck-stops" in the meat packing district a few blocks South.It was a different era and AIDS had not hit yet,and gay en had found their sexual-liberation,too!

CSull said...

Wow, what a great collection of photos! I have a real passion for gay history (being a gay guy and such) :) I grew up at 352 E. 86th St. & 1st Ave. I lived there from 1965-1975 and we had a great couple of guys living next door (Jimmy Murphy and his lover Ricky) - I've always wanted to know what became of them (I didn't really know Jimmy, but my late Mom (JoAnn Sullivan) spent many hours talking with Ricky. He was such a great guy. I didn't learn until several years later that Ricky and Jimmy were a couple. After a fire in that bldg. the 5th floor was eliminated, so I pray they weren't still living there at the time. I have a gay uncle John "Trev" O'Daniels - who grew up in that "Boys in the Band" era, and he ignited my interest in gay history. (My family helped run a bar called "The North Pole", which I think was in Yorkville, but wasn't gay) I'm so grateful for these pics, as these are definitely places my neighbors and my Uncle would have visited and this, in some small way, helps me connect with them. It's also so important to set our history down in words and history. When I "came out", at a bar called "The Yacht Club" in NJ in 1988, after it was gone, knocked down and replaced with expensive homes - it is as if it never existed. I can't find photos or even search results that mention it. This was really sad to learn - so you are doing our community a great service by sharing these! Thx!