The Pink Past. The
I chanced on the Stradivarius website
and was glued to some of the reminiscences, particularly the Soho Cinema
scene. I worked in the Colt at 6 Berwick Street early 1981 until late 1982.
It was a fun time and a very exciting place for a young guy in his mid
twenties to find himself. We had a cinema in the basement and I had to
change the reels when the old reel had finished, not that anyone was watching
the films, the cinema was bursting most nights and among the punters were
many good looking guys, occasionally I would get off with one myself ,
I would even lock the shop up for 10 mins while I went in the toilet behind
the counter !
We were regularly raided by the police,
on one occasion they turned up and cleared all the punters out and promptly
picked up the TV on the counter and threw it on the floor, they would taunt
the customers calling them perverts, occasionally I would bump into the
same coppers at The Subway while they were raiding the club.
After being raided we would call the
boss who would come and restock the shelves. We also used to swap reels
with other cinemas.
Working in the Colt was an exciting
time, yes it was sleazy with the basement, but it was also a place to meet
and chat with friends, most evening there would be a small crowd of guys
mostly young customers that I had become acquainted with, we would wait
till 10pm and close the shop and then go to one of the many venues that
may have been opended that night, Bangs being a favorite.
I also met quite a few youngsters in
the shop that went on to have very successful careers in the Media !
Eventually we were informed that we
would not be able to stay open unless we had a licence, at that time Dame
Porter was head of Westminster Council and she refused us a licence, the
shop was closed but reopened temporarily as a venue with dance booths,
customers could view naked boys dancing for £5.00...............
THE COLEHERNE 1981. STILL GOING STRONG
IN KENT. FROM RICHARD
Thanks for so many memories, there are
a few regular bars that I used that have not been remembered here.
The first being The Ship And Whale in Gulliver Street in Rotherhithe.
It was a traditional pub with a pool room, disco room and an outside
bar and garden.
At the time, about 1981, I lived
in Kent and when The Ship Inn in Rochester closed on a Friday evening
at 2300 a whole convoy of cars made their way up the A2. The DJ Lewisham
Lil seemed elderly to me at the time but still filled the dance floor.
At 0200hrs when the place closed there was some serious cruising
in the car park next door and an old dis-used warehouse behind the car
park. My first date with my now partner of 26years was at this venue so
it still holds special memories. The building is now a Gastro pub with
the same name and the surrounding area is now all expensive apartments.
The other venue I used regularly
on a Sunday evening was the Bull and Pump in Shoreditch High Street which
had the same late licence as the LA. The pubs in Kent were closed
by 2230 but the Bull and Pump known by most as the Pull and Dump
was just getting going with the cabaret for the evening. I seem to
remember that Toni Sinclair was a fairly regular Sunday night artist.
"Traffic" just of York Way in Kings Cross was another great but fairly
short lived basement nightclub that was good for a cruisey Saturday
night it was under some shops if I remember rightly. It must have
been the first club in London to be smoke free, a small outside courtyard
area to the rear was for Smoking. How progressive for those times,
City Bar and Bolts From Karl
Just wanted to share my memories
of a few places that do not seem to have been mentioned.Firstly The City
Bar in York Way,Kings Cross.This used to be a great small bar that had
a slightly seedy atmosphere.Was always nusy especially on a Saturday night,with
the postage stamp sized dancefloor heaving.Have fond memories of witnessing
a wet jock and apple bobbing contest in there..So funny.
Next was the legendary North
London club Bolts @ Lazers on Green Lanes near Turnpike Lane. This was
the first big gay club I went to and the first time I ever saw Divine live
was here.It really was a great place.Cheap drinks,big dancefloor,great
crowd fantastic lights and the iconic DJ of the time Norman Scott.I spent
countless Friday and Saturday nights here drinking and dancing to Dead
Or Alive,Hazell Dean,Miquel Brown,Evelyn Thomas,Sinitta..the list is endless.
Hazell Dean was a regular performer(isn't she everywhere) and I can still
recall a young George Michael turning up with some "friends" one night..I
always knew he was gay from that moment on...What a sorely missed club..So
many many happy times here.Does anyone else remember it or was a regular
CLUB AND AFTER
Just looked through your site and very
interesting - lots of memories!
I noticed that there was no mention
of ADAMS, the Leicester Square club which had a very upmarket ground floor
bar and downstairs restaurant with a great disco. DJ with steve Cutting?
Sadly, the same premises eventually
became the Subway club, but my happiest memories of the late 70s was ADAMS
- as well as the occasional trip to Scandals next to the Swiss Centre and
SPATS in Oxford Street. I would love to hear any
other memories of the club - and especially if anyone has any pics of the
venue in its heyday?
It inspired me to DJ myself, and under
the Tricky Dicky empire I worked for them at Spats, Phoenix, Touch (Balham)
and was the main DJ at Silks (shepherds Bush).
OF THE COPACABANA
Reopening as a Gay Bar/Club in Spring 2007 !
I read with interest some of the articles on your
website. Thank you.
What can you tell me about the Copacabana Club which
used to operate at 180-182 Earls Court Road? I'm interested in hearing
as MUCH history as possible about the Copa because it is going to be re-launched
in Spring 2007 as a brand new gay venue "Coco Latté" a sophisticated
500-capacity lounge, bar and nightclub on the site of the old Copacabana
Club. The interior is being designed by Nicola Fontanella of Argent Design
and the staff uniforms are being designed by Julien Macdonald OBE.
Managing Director, Coco Latté Earls Court Limited
Post: PO Box 12240, London N7 8ZW, UK
EAGLE, HEAVEN, LA POPOTE, COUNTRY COUSINS
By Grahame the Groovy
Builder from Wandsworth Common
What a beautifully thought-out site.
Many thanks! What nostalgia!
MSC in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.
Genuine bikers mixed with hunky men who just liked leathers. Organised
the famous Isle of Wight trip. A complete train was hired and we
all tripped down to a waiting steamer which circled the island before depositing
us back for the return journey. The crew didn't know what had hit
them, although a few were tempted to join in the revelries. As we
drove slowly slowly through Clapham Junction station around 6.30pm, the
look on commuters' faces was priceless as they were confronted with a trainload
of leather men shagging in every carriage.
I think a couple of MSC members were
involved with the Eagle bar in Hungerford Lane behind Heaven. The great
thing there was that as members we had a key for a door connecting with
Heaven; many's the time we would strutt our stuff on the Heaven dancefloor
before dragging some pretty boy back into the Eagle which was basically
La Popote in Walton Street. Afternoon
tea for ladies from the shires. Sunday lunch was a real institutiuon:no
one came for the food, which was just about edible. Once the chef didn't
turn up and Chris dug out a tray of ancient cottage pie from the back of
the freezer, sent out for some vegetables and served it up as an 'alternative
Sunday lunch'. No one batted an eyelid, even though the prices were pretty
high. No,what really glued it together was the eclectic mix of people of
all types and persuasions. and, of course, Chris Hunter as MC.
Country Cousins: Chris Hunter
opened it with sausage and mash served on paper plates as there wasn't
enough money left for a full-scale bash. The lovely Cherry was on the door.
Wonderful Ray Steptoe, an east-end muscle boy and procurer of handsome
young men, was in attendance and dropped his trousers to reveal why he
was so popular, as was Russian/Italian Auro Varani, Tuti, brother of Dee
Dee Wilde (Pan's People) and owner of Kosher Nostra jeans and Max Brightwell.
Rodney was Chris's lover for a while which is why it was later renamed
Last I heard was Chris Hunter had moved
to Brighton to open another restaurant. You're all often in my thoughts!
(Grahame the Groovy Builder from Wandsworth
Hi my name is Stephen and I stumbled
upon your web site by chance having trying to find some information
on Mrs Shufflewick whom I used to see regularly at the Black Cap
and Vauxhall. I was around the gay scene in London in my early twenties
and can remember much of it.
Did you know about the Porchester Hall
drag balls, the Giggolo restaurant in the Kings Road, the Bird Cage
club at Chalk Farm tube station The Trade cinema in Berwick street upstairs
was a sex shop down stairs they showed porn films, when the film
ended you rang a bell downstairs and an assistant from upstairs would
come down and put a new film on. Did you mention spartacus sex shop
in same street. The Premier Sauna was the only one in town based in Upper
St martins Lane was converted into a hotel
. I remember the Biograph as I used
to go on sunday afternoons the gays sat in the bottom left side ten
rows, and troop off to the toilet walking infront of the screen,
which invariably had Rock Hudson and Doris Day films playing. The Biograph
was owned for a time by the boxer Henry Cooper. I met my first partner
in the Biogrope as it was affectionately called. I remember the film
Steptoe and son being filmed in the Vauxhall Tavern run by Pat and Breda
at the time who went onto take over the Union Tavern pub in Kenninghton
Lane it had a dance floor which was unique at the time. Subway was
a bar in Leicester square and did you mention the old A and B Club
in Covent Garden .
The scene as moved on now sadly and
not for the better drag as become boring unlike its heyday with the
Harlequins, Shufflewick blessher Mark Fleming who collapsed and died
at the Vauxhall Tavern, Hinge and Bracket started at the Vauxhall
as did Lilly Savage,the trolletes amongst many. We would have fire
eating and snake charming acts at the Black Cap. My memories are
endless sadly so many have gone from the London scene at the time yet I
still feel young at 48 I was in the thick of it in the best gay scene
era ever it can never be recaptured. Anymore info you might need
call me Im sure there is loads ive forgotten for now that will come
flooding back if my memory is jogged.
Regards Stephen West feel free to use
my name for posterity. xxx
MEMORIES OF THE EIGHTIES
II was overjoyed to read your articles
on the gay venues in London during
the 70s and 80s. It was pure nostalgia.
During the latter part of the 70s, and
following the Al Pacino movie
'Cruising', I discovered my interest
in leather and contacted London's
MSC chapter and was invited by their
president to attend a meeting at
their north London pub. During my second
visit, I was approached by two
men who insisted they wanted to bundle
me in the back of their van and
take me to Hampstead Heath. I declined
their kind invitation and the
following week I was kicked out of
Pouring through the pages of Capital
Gay, I stumbled upon Spreadeagle
which held its meetings at the Princess of Prussia in the East
End. They were sympathetic to my treatment
by MSC and offered me free
membership. I enjoyed many happy years
with this group and was saddened
when it finally folded up, after moving
to various venues and never
really settling down.
I often visited Vauxhall
Tavern and remember when Lee Paris used to do
'her' act actually on the bar, climbing
onto a swing, banging her head
against the ceiling while singing Lollipop,
and throwing sweet lollipops
into the audience. The drag shows were
so popular that the two bars were
knocked into one and a stage was built.
Some of the best names appeared
there. I got to know Lee Paris very
well and she would advertise my
leather body to any one interested,
telling the audience they could
find me draped over the railings outside
after the pub closed! Equally,
I came to know Bobby Charles, Bunny
and Wabbit, Adrella and the
legendary Lilly Savage. When Mrs Shufflewick
collapsed in the street and
died, Lee Paris presented a special
show to commemorate the influence
Mrs Shufflewick had presented in the
On a Saturday night, after the Vauxhall
Tavern closed, with spirits
high, it was not unusual for the party
crowd to cross the street and
visit the Market
Tavern at Nine Elms. There were two bars; the front bar
included a dance floor and welcomed
the dance set, while the back bar
was more cruisy and heavy with a leather
and clone element. The bar was
usually manned by Michael Edwards,
a typical clone image, with muscle
tee-shirt and leather jeans. It was
in the Market Tavern, one Friday
night, that I had the pleasure of meeting
Freddie Mercury, of Queen
fame, and we had a long chat, much
to the dismay of his bouncer boyfriend.
Freddie Mercury was not the only famous
person I was acquainted with.
As a regular of
Bromptons in Earls Court, I also got to know Kenny Everett
very well and was invited every year
to his birthday party on Christmas
Eve. The other reason for visiting
Bromptons was to purchase the latest
Hi-NRG records from the Clone
Zone stall set aside from the main bar and
dance floor. Across the road from Bromptons
was the infamous Colherne,
where I can remember one Saturday night,
after closing, being chased
away by police! The Colherne had its
own cruising area inside and
outside the bar and its sleazy ambience
made it an ideal place to visit
before going on to Bromptons or into
the West End for Heaven.
If you could not find that elusive Hi-NRG
record in Bromtons, then a
visit to Record Shack, in the heart
of Soho, was sure to produce a
result. Even absently humming a tune,
the assistant asked if I was
looking for Girl Talk's Kiss In The
Dark and I was delighted when he
produced the 12 inch version of the
record everyone changed the words
to: A Piss In The Park! In the city's
Apprentice, both dance
floors thumped with the sound of Hi-NRG
music and the walls were adorned
with large framed prints of Tom of
Finland's drawings. It was a cruisy
clone image which won the bar its populrity
and the bar staff were not
adverse themselves to glittering up
their 'taches and presenting their
very own drag show.
It would be wrong to single out any
one venue, but London during the 70s
and 80s had everything to offer the
gay man, whether he was new to the
scene, or whether he was prepared to
move away from the illegal squats
of Brixton, where gays met for a drink
and a smoke, watched over by a
tough bouncer who questioned everyone
who knocked on the door. I moved
away from London at the end of the
80s, following the Brixton riots and
an assault by four black men in the
street in Croydon, South London, but
my heart still lives in London and
I regularly re-visit my old haunts,
The Colherne and Bromptons in Earls
Court and Backstreet in Mile End.
Please feel free to include this article
in your website, it may just
stir some more memories from those
guys who survived the HIV and AIDS
epidemic, of which I am pleased to
count as one!
LOST GAY SCENE OF THE EIGHTIES
With London seeing new bars and clubs opening
almost every month, the young man proudly out on the gay scene could be
forgiven for thinking that this is a constantly expanding world he is living
in. Of course it is, but it is a world which also shrinks as places once
packed and popular disappear.
London has a Pink past so take a walk
around and visit some of the places you may remember but which are too
later renamed Harpos and later Banana
Max in Earls Court Road was revolutionary when it opened in the
eighties. For once someone spent real money on a gay venue and together
with a club underneath, Copacabana, later renamed the Copa, it was the
place to be.
The crowd was always young and stylish
and the decor was bright and modern. The name change came about after a
fire and a total refit. Later after another fire it became Earls but eventually
slipped in popularity as competition increased from Soho.
Eventually the owners gave up on the
place, turned it straight and a bit of gay history disappeared.
The Golden Lion
Dean Street is still there but it's notorious past almost forgotten. In
the seventies and eighties this was the place to find rent boys. It even
suffered a small bomb attack on it's toilets, a small token of homophobia.
It also had a good atmosphere despite it's reputation and fitted in well
with it's Soho location. Serial Killer Dennis Nielson met some of his victims
In the Eighties The
Horse and Groom in Groom Mews, Victoria was a once a week gay venue
on Sunday lunchtimes. It always attracted a large crowd especially orientals
and their admirers and many a pleasant Sunday afternoon liason started
in it's bars. Complaints from wealthy neighbours finally closed it down.
Homophobia struck again. Close by was the Pig and
The Markham Arms
in the Kings Road was another eighties once a week gay venue , this time
on Saturdays. Packed to bursting point most sessions, it eventually became
a building Society.
Also in Chelsea was Country
Cousins in Kings Road run by Brian Derbyshire , which was
once Rod's Club. When Brian left, the place
in Earls Court was one of the seedier gay venues, with drugs and
prostitutes helping to create a pretty depressing atmosphere. The brewery
eventually called time changing it to a Victorian Dining room and later
an Irish Theme pub.
Hotel on the Fulham Road flourished for a time as Manhattens
but eventually returned to a straight clientele. Close by the Coleherne
was a small downstairs club the Catacombs,
popular as a cruising place late at night.
in News Kings Road close to Putney bridge ran for many years with Sunday
lunchtimes being very popular. The Duke of Cornwall
had a fairly short life in Ledbury Street Notting Hill in the late eighties.
The John Bull
was a short lived popular, large gay pub in Chiswick in the mid eighties.
Harrassed constantly by the local Police who were determined not to have
a gay pub on their doorstep, it eventually went straight. One of the bar
staff who stood up to the Police, found a private party he held in his
home, raided by the police later, with everyone there arrested, sheets
taken off beds to be 'examined' and accusations of under age sex having
taken place. Eventually all charges were dropped, but the Police had made
The Royal Oak
was an old establised drag pub in Hammersmith which is now a lap dancing
club hated by the locals. Over the years it won many awards for pub of
the year. Most of the big drag acts of the seventies and eighties such
as Mrs Shufflewick, The Harlequeens, Candy Du Barry and The Playgirls,
performed here every night and the place was very popular. Towards
the end of it's life it turned into a club venue rather than a drag
pub and it's clientele changed and eventually drifted away.
The London Lesbian
and Gay Centre in Crowcross Street was a brave experiment in the
eighties in establishing a non commercial gay venue. Unfortuately during
it's lfe it was constantly suffering from volunteers ripping it off, political
infighting and general mismanagement. It's end came when the GLC was abolished
and the building sold.
was a smart West end club for members and guests with a reputation for
attracting older gay men and their younger friend, often after the Quebec
for the evening. Never the less it did set a high standard of dress and
surroundings unusual for the times. Closed at the end of the eighties.
The White Bear
opposite the London Pavilion closed at the end of the seventies.It is remembered
for even having it's own entrance from Picadilly tube station.
The Attic bar at the Peacock
in Covent Garden had a spell of popularity as a refuge from the disco music
dominating most bars
was a long running club in Falconbury Court. It resurfaced under several
other names in later years. One of our readers has contributed his memories
of Stallions (click here to read)
The long running A
& B club also disappeared and the notorious Subway in Leicester
square. The latter was an early victim of AIDS when one doctor blamed the
underground sex club for the rapid spread of the virus. The Embassy
lost out to the mega disco of Heaven.
The Euston Tavern
was a large pub on the Euston Road and twice a week it was totally gay,
with a disco upstairs run by Tricky Dicky and drag down stairs. Very, very
popular and a forerunner of the many club nights now held in more glamourous
surrounding, it first opened in 1968. Richard Scanes aka Trick Dicky also
ran gay discos at The Father Red Cap, the
Kings Arms in Bishopgate, Fangs in
Paddington and the Green man in Great Portland
Oxford Street was a small central club with a small dance floor and while
not gay every night, was mainly known in the eighties for hosting the Long
Yang Club disco. The big club nights had to be those run under the
banner of 'Bangs' These were the G-A-Y nights of the era and run by Colin
a fairly short lived eighties disco in the unlikely setting of a shopping
centre in Shepherds Bush. Inside it was large and quite plush but the streets
outside were quite intimidating and eventually it seemed to just fade away.
Battersea Park Road was popular for a short time in the eighties , the
pub even starting it's own record label with it's first and only release
of an LP by the Trollettes.
sometimes known as Yours or Mine, was in Kensington High Street, under
Rymans. In the eighties it was a smart venue popular with young entrepreneurs.
Despite that it did have good music, a dance floor with lighting underneath,
plenty of dark corners and drinks available after normal pub hours. It
was also popular with young entrepreneurs from the far east.
The Dog and Fox
in Wimbledon is still a pub but it's Saturday gay nights in the 'ballroom'
are long gone, a mere echo from the eighties when the old fashioned 'function
room' resounded with the latest disco hits and three or four coloured
lights flashing in time to the music created an exciting atmosphere.
The Duke of York
was a small pub in Hammersmith which opened in the eighties with crowds
jamming the streets outside but quickly quietened down until it faded away.
Gained notoriety after a tabloid newspaper 'exposed' it for selling drugs
over the counter. in fact the drugs were poppers. they also sold minature
teddy bears with leather jackets and caps but that didn't seem to interest
is still there in St Martin's Lane and was once the premier 'theatrical'
pub in the West End until a stroppy landlord in the eighties decided to
be nasty to his gay clientele. The Brief Encounter
opened up opposite, took away the customers and they never went back.
opened in the centre of London in the late eighties, early nineties and
was a success from day one. But within a few years it had gone, a victim
to poor management and a feud with 79CXR over
that bar's application for a a late licence.
In South London the Union
Tavern was a large Edwardian pub with a stage. Just before it closed
in the eighties (it became a Irish pub) it produced Cinderella with the
Trollettes and The Rocky Horror Show, I think with David Dale. The
Market Tavern in Vauxhaul was a very popular venue which flourished
into the nineties adapting over the years to a changing clientele. Further
south in Brixton, the Prince of Wales was
puplular for a short time at first under the management of the late Phil
Starr who originally managed the Two Brewers
Arms near Marble Arch flourished for a short time in the early nineties
but faded away.
in Notting Hill gate was the 'political' pub where the upstairs room was
gay and used often for meetings by gay political groups.
The Elephant a
Castle was a long running bar in Vauxhaull. The
Greyhound out in Colnebrook survived for many years but eventually
collapsed, unknown to many soho bunnies.
The White Swan
in Notting Hill gate, came and went with hardly anyone noticing.
Richmond has had a changing gay scene
with fond memories of 'Cobwebs' and later
the Imperial on a prominent corner of the
Quadrant. this fell victim to a pizza chain to be replaced by the still
popular Richmond Arms.
The East End has many long gone venues,
including, the Ship and Whale and Pigeons
pioneered gay disco nights. The Waterman's Arm
run by Daniel Farson was noted for it's musical hall drag acts. Some of
the artists including Mrs Shufflewick appeared on a Decca L.P. made in
So many other names also spring to mind
in Irving Street, The Toucan, a drinking club
in Gerrards Street, The Locomotion
Circus, The Empire in Holborn, The
Nell Gwynn in Kings Road, The British Prince
in Bromley, The Bell in Pentonville and Palm
Beach, Streatham are just a few.
Not a pub, but the Biograph
Cinema in Victoria is remembered with affection as a meeting place
for many years until it was demolished in the eighties just ahead of a
preservation order being placed on it. I am told there is a photograph
of the Biograph inside the 'modern' pub on the same site called the Willows.
Restaurants seemed to be more popular
meeting places than they are today with several openly gay and many gay
Buying Poppers was another activity
which created some unlikely suppliers. two the writer remembers were at
the Putney end of North End Road and a Corner grocery shop in Hammersmith,
the owners of which still supply by mail order and even once sold them
over the counter of a pub. (See The Duke of York above)
Gay shops were still in their infancy.
One run by Brian Derbyshire had it's home in an old warehouse in the Vale
Acton, and Clone Zone started as stalls inside
gay pubs. Mail order companies came and went. Pepys
Bookshop in Earls Court was a popular bookshop as was The
Zipper store which opened in Camden and which developed into magazine
publishing and even film distribution..
Videos were mostly traded by individuals
making mostly poor VHS copies at home. I remember one visit to a flat in
Putney where a supplier had hundreds and made a copy for you to order for
about fifteen pounds a time.
Super 8 films also made the rounds,
smuggled in from the States for the most part and transferred (badly) to
tape using a video camera pointed at the screen.
Being short of money once I made a
few copies this way and sold them to a guy in the Midlands who ran a secondhand
bookshop. I also used the camera to record myself and my partner enjoying
ourselves, a tape I still have and value !
It was during the eighties too that
Ken Livingstone shocked the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail by addressing
a meeting in Harrow where he stood up for gay men. The years
which have followed have seen improvements in the treatment of gay men
right up to the GLA partnership registration to the current civil partnerships.
I was lucky enough to hear Ken speak at that meeting and know how misreported
he was in our homophobic London newspaper.
word from our readers
Just a couple of quick
corrections - Benjys in Mile End Road, mentioned as closed, is still going
strong as Benjys 2000 (dating quickly!) on the same site and at the same
time - Sunday nights, as it has done since at least 1989.
And I'm pretty sure Stephs
is still open on Dean St - the ex was telling me that he had a really poor
meal there about six months ago...
But an interesting read
none the less.
All the best,
I think you will find
that the "Country Cousins" (which was also a 160 seater cabaret restaurant)
was actually owned by Christopher Hunter (who had previously owned, amogst
others, a very famous Gay restaurant called La Popote in Walton Street).
During Christopher's ownership The CC became an essential meeting place
as a late-night gay dinner cabaret venue with such acts as Gotham from
New York, and even Lorna Luft, Diana Dors, Hot Gossip, Morgana King and
Rod's - which was named
after an Australian called Rodney Gooch - followed on at the same site
as the Country Cousin after the CC closed!
LOST GAY VENUES.
New Cross Road
Old Brompton Road
Kennington Park Road
THE CRAVEN CLUB
New Kings Road
THE TOUCAN CLUB
Woolwich Manor Way
Leystone High Road
Old Bond Street
Smith Streeet Chelsea
more added by Andy
& Compasses N1,
In Hand N8,
Road (briefly gay)
more offers ?
Mile End Road
Gone but still with us as
Benjys 2000 !
JIM'S PHONE BAR
TRICKS AT THE LOCOMOTIVE
Blackstock Road N5
LEE AND WANDAS PIANO BAR
Charing Cross Road
Old Burlington Street
THE LONDON APPRENTICE
(occasionally survives as
Old Brompton Road
(Survives as Bromptons)
Old Brompton Road
Still going strong !!! But
included out of interest
BUNJEES COFFEE HOUSE
Chiswick High Road
of the publications here predate the eighties and even the seventies
below written by yours truly
THE NATIONAL GAY
MEN CRUISING MEN
would be pleased to have your memories of forgotten gay venues, restaurants,
or publications especially going further back. Contact us using the E:Mail
link below. Photos also welcome. Use JPEG or GIF format.
CONTACT US BEFORE SENDING IMAGES OR ANY ATTACHMENTS AS OUR SERVER WILL
REJECT UNEXPECTED ARRIVALS !
NEWS, OUR LOST 'VOICE'
GAY NEWS was the most important Gay newspaper
in the United Kingdom in the seventies and into the eighties. Since it's
demise, no other publication has covered gay issues in such depth. It had
news, first class book, film and music reviews, well written articles on
all aspects of gay life and pages and pages of information.
On this page we look at one issue to give
an impression of what we have lost with the modern gay press.
ISSUE 211 MARCH 18th- APRIL 1st 1981
The cover shows a Nazi being smashed in
the face by a 'Freedom Fighter' introducing a two page article on those
gay men who resisted the Nazis in Germany. Written by a Canadian Ian Young.
Two pages in those days were two pages, closed packed type in tabloid newspaper
format. Not jazzed up graphics and fonts covering up a lack of substance
so common today. Inside, we had comments on The Archbishop of Canterbury's
remarks that gay men were 'Handicapped' and the Chief Countable of Yorkshire
defending the right of the state to keep files on all subversives including
The case of a man dragged through the courts
for having an 18 years old lover is contrasted with the treatment Prince
Charles gets for having a lover of similar age including a wedding paid
for by the state. Gemini a gay club in Huddersfield was also in trouble
as it's licence was challenged. The Police witness described it as a cess
pit to make money out of sexual filth including buggery, masturbation,
group sex and oral sex.. And kids today think they invented sex !
The case produced a proposal for the Gay
Pride march to be moved to Huddersfield. Now that would upset the Modern
London Disco bunnies.
Building Societies were also slated for
their treatment of gay couples. Funny enough I got a mortgage with a partner
in the same year with no problem.. The Unitarian Church withdrew a leaflet
advertising it's willingness to conduct ceremonies for same sex unions.
angering one of it's ministers.
Moving to page five and and a murder hunt
for the killer of Henry Carr a diplomat and another man Carlos Mary and
underneath on a lighter note an advert for a Grand Masked Ball at the Porchester
Hall. A Cash crisis at London Friend features overleaf and controversy
over replies to agony aunts in Teenage magazines when asked questions about
sexuality. Aberdeen switchboard also reported it received 511 calls in
it's third year, an increase of 61.
Page 8 is full of ads for gay hotels some
of which still survive and news that David Steel backed a new gay help
line in his constituency. The newly revived Conservative Party group for
Homosexual rights handed out hundreds of leaflets at a Young Conservative
conference. We assume nobody read them. Still nice try. In Nottingham
a gay activist fought a cottaging charge and won his case and announced
plans to use a defence committee to help fight police harassment of gay
men in toilets.
On page 10 it was reported that 600 people
turned up in Manchester for a demonstration against repression of Lesbian
and Gay people. A news of the World reporter was ejected from a meeting
and his film taken from his camera, (loud cheers) and a newly formed Gay
Black Group made it's first appearance at the Rally.
Page 12 is full of letters, not about pop
stars, or Soap operas but serious letters about serious subjects and on
the following page an obituary for the writer Robin Maughn, the take-over
of Heaven night club by Richard Branson and a promise to keep it gay, plus
a report of a 24 year old dying after inhaling poppers.
Over the page and a stage hypnotist claims
Gay people are easier to hypnotize as they are more intelligent than straights.
An Officer from the Metropolitan Police in Streatham denied spending too
much time arresting gay men. With 3,500 officers short ( No change there
then !) he had no time to waste on such matters. The Irish Gay Rights Movement
also held a meeting to press for change and a small ad advertised Polaroid
cameras to capture those personal moments. Video and Digital cameras have
certainly changed things in that area.
The next pages are full of reviews of books,
film and music with some more news items a new Mr Gay cover guy competition
with a £100 top prize. The Berlin film festival is covered in detail.
Seven more pages list every gay venue,
organisation and group in the UK followed by two pages of books available
by mail order. There are then three pages of diary events across the UK,
more pages of reviews including classical music ( 'what's that ?' I hear
you ask), Jazz (Jazz, in a gay magazine ?) and restaurants. Four pages
of ads follow and these have changed little over the years. Sincere
discreet relationships are being sought and the words 21+ appear almost
everywhere just in case anyone gets the wrong idea..
A large ad for the Jac pack 'too hot to
show' and Jac Cream for those who find baby oil too messy and as it's pure
vegetable based probably great if you run out of Trex.. Zipper and Mister
Magazines are advertised so not much change there either. The Trollettes
are on at the Subway Club, although I never though anyone went there to
watch drag. . Page 15 and back to the serious stuff with the article on
Nazis and those who resisted them, Two pages about Sex and the Church,
Two pages on the Joys of Los Angeles followed by four more pages of book
review. Gays in the eighties had a lot of time to read
To finish off a newsletter from New York
and on the back page reports of six executions of Gay men in the Middle
east and pressure on the BBC to include equal opportunities clauses in
it's employment contract.
Half the last page is an ad for holidays
in the USA with the slogan 'There has never been a better time to go' With
hindsight it should have read never a better time NOT to go but things
were looking better as the eighties started and the mood was optimistic
for the future despite the first coming of the Mummy from Hell.
In the mid eighties Stalions was a unique venue in London's Gay West
I think that Thursday or Friday was black night. Amazing black guys
with rippling muscles ETC. Saturday was just kind of general gay night.
Monday was Skin 2 - gay/straight S/M stuff.
But Stallions came alive for us on Sunday evening. Thanks, in no small
part, to the amazing Jo Purvis - who I've been trying to get in contact
with for the past 2 years (anyone who knows her - a nudge please and send
contact details to Stradivarius).
We would arrive at Stallions at 5pm. The bar would be closed because
of the licensing laws at that time. We were servred tea and sandwiches
unlil 7pm. During this time Jo would play old tea-dance favourites and
oddities like Eartha Kitt - Old Fashioned Girl, Time Warp, Sweet Transvestite,
Liza - New York, New York, etc.
At about 8pm another (female) DJ took over and played the chart stuff
(Eurythmics - Sisters, Rah Band - Clouds Across The Moon, Sheila E - The
Belle Of St Mark).
It was the Eighties in London and we were the cutting edge. Straights
would mention Stallions in interviews in The Face etc.
The place looked weird. We had aquariums embedded in tree trunks as
Nothing has ever come close. Love & Hugs to anyone who was there.
Top of Page
Loved this site -
well researched - it brought back some great memories. Geoffrey (mentioned
in contribution about Stallions by David) I believe had worked in the A&B
club for many years and he had the same habit of wearing different funny
hats, changing frequently throughout the evening.
Subway used an emergency
light system to warn punters the police were at the door. Also opened at
this time was the Edward and the Angel, both in Islington. The former still
exists of cause and I think the later does too. Another disco popular in
the late 70's was the Rainbow at Manor House, in a large corner pub, built
in the 1930's and now seems derelict.
There are other sights
that might be interesting to mention - one being The London Apprentice
at Old St where in 1983 the Terrence Higgins Trust held its inaugural meeting.
I'm sure you've mentioned them somewhere but thought I'd mention a few
again - just in case. I shall enjoy reading the rest of your site - All
best wishes - love - Tony.
Enjoyed the "Lost
Scene of 1980s", since this was when I "came out" and first visited such
Regarding Lost Venues,
those I can think of are:
Fallen Angel N1,
off City Road
Salmon & Compasses
N1, Penton Street
Laurel Tree NW1,
Bird In Hand N8,
Park Road (briefly gay)
Castle SE13, Lewisham
Clarendon W6, Hammersmith
Also, an upstairs
'club' next to Chalk Farm station that used to open on Sunday afternoons
and could bridge the gap between pub opening hours!
How I miss Capital
Gay, which had proper news & journalism; unlike today's glossy collections
of adverts & "good news" stories, where every venue is fantastic &
every gym-fit punter is "gagging for it". I remember Eric Presland's Cruising
column, which wasn't afraid to give an honest opinion of a pub or club;
and the letters page, where serious debate took place on issues such as
gay skinheads - acceptable or not as an image? - or the absence of black
gays from the mainstream London scene. Can you imagine such subjects being
discussed at length today? Even the Pink Paper has totally sold out &
like the rest of the "Pink Press" is full of trivia. If you're not into
soaps, boy-bands, celebrities or "shagging" after masses of "recreational"
drugs, you can't relate to 90& on the contents!
Well, that's enough
moaning, and I'm only 42!!!
Great site. brings back memories of various
venues in the early eighties I used to visit..
The Boltons in Earls Court was certainly
a place full of youths in search of admirers as was the Appolo Club in
Wardour Street. Sombrero's in Kensington was a sugar daddies delight. The
Horse and Groom, a Sunday lunchtime venue was good for the occasional squaddie.
The Union Tavern in Camberwell New Road put on good shows and had a large
stage. Quite a few black guys here as well.
The notorious Subway club however had to
be one of the most remarkable places. Right in the middle of Leicester
Square next to the Odeon, it's small entrance hid the hottest place in
town years before places such as Fist and the Hoist were ever dreamed of.
A construction bar plus two other bars all with leather denim, construction
dress code, strict membership and open until the early hours of the morning
it was too good to last. Some say AID's killed it off, one report claimed
it was the No.1 place to pick up the strange new infection, others blamed
the outrageous behaviour inside the club, bad management, financial problems,
The crowds drifted off to the London Apprentice
in Old Street, The cellar bar at Heaven, The Coleherne, The Princess of
Prussia and a few other more discreet places.
A lot of action took place in small cinemas
such as the Abcat, Blueboy, Climax, Colt, Trade, Lambda, Playboy, Roxie,
Spartacus, Swings, Arames and Charlie Browns, most killed off by the rise
Happy days !
Brian via E:Mail
"STUD" STATISTICS 1983
In 1983 a shortlived magazine called STUD
carried a questionaire into the sex life of gay men in the UK.
60% livedwith someone, 40% lived on their
own. Of those living with another person, 12% lived with lovers,27% with
parents and the rest with friends.
39% had not declared their homosexuality
The age of their first gay sexual encounter
was 11% under 10, 33% 11-14, 34% 15-18, 9% 19-21 and 4% 22-25
48% experienced their first serious relationship
between 15 and 21 and this at a time when gay sex under 21 was illegal
! 87% had experienced sexual intercourse before their 21st birthday. Again
making nonsense of age of consent laws.
Most respondents said the size of a partners
dick was not important and the age group 21-25 was the ideal age for a
partner for 50% although 11% were not concerned about age and thought personality
was more important.
Hope then for us older guys with great
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