Thursday, February 20, 2014

Uncle Charlie's Downtown

The following is a guest post by Charles Cosentino, who runs the Original Uncle Charlie's Downtown Facebook page:



Uncle Charlie's Downtown opened in the early 1980s in Greenwich Village, part of a popular chain of gay bars in New York City. Born at the same time as MTV, it was one of the first video bars, and soon earned a reputation as a place where nobody spoke, but just stood and watched, a so-called "S&M" bar, for Stand and Model.



During the AIDS crisis, Uncle Charlie's Downtown became one of the most popular gay bars of the 1980s with one of the busiest happy hours, packing them in with screenings of Dynasty Wednesdays & Golden Girl Saturdays. Maybe people needed something light during that time of tragedy.

Scandal hit when the bar's owner was charged with the 1986 stabbing murder of a 37-year-old man who had a relationship with his former 20-year-old lover. After a hung jury in 1988, and awaiting a re-trial, he sold everything and disappeared to Panama--until he was nabbed.

But the bar played on.



Taken over by a new owner, Gary Davenport, Uncle Charlie's was revamped and remained a popular hotspot throughout the late 1980's and 90's.

In 1997, Uncle Charlie's was forced to close its doors, ending an era in Greenwich Village gay history. The reason? A drop in customers as Chelsea was gaining popularity as the "new" destination for gay men, along with a 50 percent increase in rent.



Today, the Irish pub and restaurant Fiddlesticks occupies the legendary Uncle Charlie's Downtown space at 56 Greenwich Avenue. If you go inside you just might see a few familiar things and remember some good memories.


all photos via the Original Uncle Charlie's Downtown Facebook page

10 comments:

Yank said...

This was the absolute best hang out in it's early-mid years. My friends and I would hit up happy hour, then, invariably, end up at The Ninth Circle. Happy days.

Anonymous said...

I took my lesbian friends there once. It was their first venture into a male bar. Their response was priceless. “wow, you guys have nice places to go to”

Some Other Guy said...

Uncle Charlie's, the bar where you went went you first left the closet.

And I hate to bring up bad memories, but didn't a bomb go off there once in the 1980's?

I remember a vigorous bag check soon after.

aworld66 said...

http://www.back2stonewall.com/2012/12/uncle-charlies-nyc-bomb.html

Anonymous said...

I used to work in Uncle Charlie's back in the late eighties. It was the first gay bar I felt comfortable and welcomed in right when I first came out. My friends and I used to hang out there after going to meetings at GLYNY. That was before they were really strict about IDs.

Anonymous said...

Any relation to the (1 or 2?) Uncle Charlies now in Midtown East and the Lower East Side?

aworld66 said...

There is no relation to any other Uncle Charlies that now exists in NYC.

Mark said...

If I'm not mistaken, that's Jimmy McNulty, now of Provincetown, behind the bar!

Ken Mac said...

wow who knew

Robert Heikkila said...

WOW this was one of my favorite NY bars. This was a must on Thursday's 2-4-1.