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Gay Life in the Seventies
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The Pink Past. The Seventies
THE SEVENTIES SCENE THE LOST GAY VENUES
THE LOST GAY RESTAURANTS THE LOST GAY PUBLICATIONS
MEMORIES OF LOST DRAG QUEENS THE REGENCY CLUB 1975
SEX GUIDE TO GAY VENUES 1977 THE ODYSSEY CLUB
RODS CLUB HIM MAGAZINE RAIDED
HOW TO PICK UP GUARDSMEN GOD BLESS THE COLEHERNE
THE BATH HOUSE SCENE OUTSIDE CRUISING
CINEMAS A ROOM FOR THE NIGHT ?
SCANDALS AND MORE MORE SEVENTIES MEMORIES

SOME MORE SEVENTIES MEMORIES

Hi Keith,
What a wonderful website to find, it has brought back so many memories and reminded me of some of the places I had forgotten. Having said that after scrolling through the lists of venues there are a few I remember that don't seem to be there; La Douce, D'arblay St, The New Ambassador, Orange Street, Haymarket and The Rockingham, Archer Street, all from the '70's or maybe I missed seeing them. Have a ticket for Daisy Chain from 1990 and two programes from 1976, La Grande Eugene, a French drag/caberet act that was on at Roundhouse and Cycle Sluts from the States that was on in north London, can send pics of these if interested.
Regards Brian


THE LOST GAY SCENE 
OF THE SEVENTIES

The seventies was the first decade to start taking advantage of the change in the law regarding homosexuality. Three years after the relaxation of the law, London started to see pubs and clubs which had always been there hidden away, start to be more open, advertising in magazines and losing some of the fear of being raided. Gay shops sprang up and  gay travel companies alongside the bars, clubs and restaurants.

Saunas for the most part were hidden away and still subject to police raids and cottages continued to provide the police with a way of harassing gay men but in the clubs and pubs gay men began to feel safer and more confident.

There were still the odd raid and it was obvious that the anti gay attitude of the police and judiciary was still unchanged despite the changes in the law. In fact it probably took another twenty years for the Police attitude to start to change and then only after pressure from politicians and campaigning organization such as Stonewall.

Licensing laws were still a problem with pubs closing at three in the afternoon and only opening for about four or five hours in the evening usually closing at 10.30.  These restrictive measures produced alternatives as do all bad laws and central London was home to many drinking 'clubs', smallish venues to which one had to be a member, often up narrow winding staircases and existing purely to serve drinks 'out of hours'

As licensing laws were relaxed in the late eighties and nineties, the reason for their existence disappeared and few remain. They had also served as private meeting places for gay men, especially those still in the closet. Again more open attitudes as they developed, removed the need for such secrecy and one by one they closed.

Many were also run by eccentric characters and eventually as they died or ill health took it's hold the clubs went with them.

Saunas were also found operating in a similar manner, unadvertised except by word of mouth, often tiny and sometimes pretty shabby, they operated in contact fear of being raided. Small wonder gays flocked to Europe especially Amsterdam where such saunas operated  much more openly and with less hypocrisy.

Restaurants were very popular with many having predominately gay clientele without actually being a gay restaurant. The camp atmosphere probably gave the game away but that too actually attracted many straight people. 

One nighter discos such as those run by Trick Dicky, started a trend which still exists today with clubs such as G-A-Y, Trade etc. One nighters may have had primitive lighting, under powered sound systems and be held in pretty down market promises but they were popular, packed and cruisy.

Towards the end of the seventies, things were opening up a little and by the start of the eighties, gay life especially in London seemed set to thrive. The Village People presented an obvious gay 'image'. A distinct 'gay' disco sound had started to emerge which still lives on today despite the arrival of the boring, mechanical rhythms too often blasted out today

Films were prepared to have gay characters, even television had ventured out with a series on Gay Life. Personally I was still hidden away in a village in the Chilterns and tried desperately to pick up the London ITV station to watch such programmes. I could buy Gay news in John Menzies newsagents and my job travelling around south of England gave me a chance to explore the scene listed in Gay news.

Cottages were still big business with a large percentage of gay pick ups taking place there rather than in bars. A large percentage of guys were married men who were either gay or maybe bi. Newspaper very often carries stories of suicides by married men arrested in cottages and due to be brought before a court and their whole life exposed.

I remember one of a man living in Slough who threw himself in front of a train after being arrested in a cottage. He was married, had three children, a good job and just could not face exposure.

One of my friends propositioned a Policeman who was in a cottage exposing himself and his aroused equipment. It cost him £100 fine, his name in the local paper and a split with his family which took years to heal. The Policeman must have been proud of himself.

Despite all this however, the seventies paved the way for today's pretty open gay scene in the UK. Campaigning by the CHE helped move the law slowly in a more liberal direction ( we haven't quite got there yet however with clause 28 still around and the lack of equality before the law on many matters), commercial companies saw money to be made by catering for gay men, individuals stuck their heads over the parapet and didn't get them shot off.

Shame that only recently there was a letter in Boyz magazine by a young queen deploring the presence on the gay scene of 'old fossils' and  'sad old gits'. Those sad old gits made the gay scene possible for idiots like him and unfortunately shows that homophobia still exists even within the gay world. The young ( and not so young guys) who took advantage of the law changes and created a new gay scene were pioneers. Now in their mid fifties or beyond, being referred to as 'old fossils' and 'sad old gits' is insulting. One reason why Stradivarius exists ! 

Keith


GOD BLESS THE COLEHERENE
By Robin Gaddeau
This article appeared in Quorum magazine of 1972.If the writer is still around we hope he will not object to our reproducing it

God bless the Coleherne ! Well 'E would 'ave done, wouldn't 'E if 'E ever had the chance to go there. For in this age of anxiety, this parlous time, this plastic era when everything is changing and impermanent as Poland, the Coleherne yet abides.

Every six months or so I put my boots on, take the tube to E.C., walk the half mile and pop in. I never fail to be edified. It's not just those super blow up photographs on the walls of a London we all never knew but love anyway, or that striped greet awning with the spear poles over the hooch. Or even those fab ewers hanging since time immemorial from the stark black rafters at the rear.

Gee I guess man it must be the people, I mean it's a genuine clientele with an ethos of it's own. Inevitably exactly two of them, perhaps one or both of whom I haven't seen in years, speak to me during my sojourn. For the rest I stand and drink lager and gaze with warm esteem at the Eternal Value as it chats, sips, ogles desperately. And after my third pint all is love and peace and the muliticoloured lantern under the arch really is magic.

I suppose I like the back room best. Maybe because it is less impacted and then too I can stand in the curve of the piano. But that is not to say that I don't do the gauntlet once or twice in the evening especially after ten at the weekend, but I do have to confess that I do shy away from that part which is known as leather lane, I suppose because deep down it frightens me.

Of course the pundits preach that nothing is for ever. They shut the outside cottage a year or so ago and it's sad to say that Olive the excellent pianist seems not to be making her music on Fridays and Saturdays. And now the pigs-detestable word-do turn up like bad pennies every night at eleven to pester the public on the pavement and far worse to cause a confusion of uniforms. But can they every crush the nut, get at the kernel of the Spunk and Spirit of the Coleherne.

Well they can try, but frankly I doubt very much that they will succeed.



Any comments about 'Olive' or the goings on in the outside cottage ? Mail us !!!

 
THE 
REGENCY 
CLUB
1975
Great Newport Street
Once a real dive, the Regency got it's act together in 1975 with the atmosphere of a country pub and attractive customers. Membership for life was £1 and admission 25p or 50p. Drinks were 40p for beer and 25 p for coke. It opened at 10pm until very late. It featured cabaret from artistes such as Lee Sutton,Sandy Graham and Tommy Osborne and it was 100% gay
  .

 LOST GAY VENUES.
Many of these venues continued into the eighties and even the nineties. Some of the venues popular in the seventies and in some cases even earlier, are still with us such as the Coleherne, the Vauxhall Tavern
William 1V, Champion, Quebec and The Black Cap


PUBS

ARABIANS
CAMBRIDGE ROAD E2

THE BOLTONS
EARLS COURT

THE BELL
PENTONVILLE ROAD

THE CASTLE
RICHMOND

BIRD CAGE
COLUMBIA ROAD E.2

CHEPSTOW
NOTTING HILL

CRICKETERS
BATTERSEA PARK ROAD

DOG AND TRUMPET
GREAT MALBOROUGH STREET

CASTLE
LEWISHAM

ELMHURST
LORDSHIP LANE

IMPERIAL
RICHMOND

LAUREL TREE
CAMDEN

LORD RAGLAN
EC1

COCK
KILBURN

COMPTON ARMS
HIGHBURY

DUKE OF FIFE
KATHERINE ROAD E7

GREEN MAN
PORTLAND STREET

HALF MOON
PUTNEY

HORNSEY WOOD TAVERN
SEVEN SISTERS ROAD
 

 

.
HORSE AND GROOM
GROOM PLACE SW1

PIG AND WHISTLE
LITTLE CHESTER STREET SW1

KINGS HEAD
SOHO

GOLDEN LION
DEAN STREET

THE STEPS
NEWHAM

KINGS ARMS
BISHOPGATE

MARKHAM ARMS
KINGS ROAD CHELSEA

OXFORD TAVERN
KENTISH TOWN ROAD

ROYAL MAIL
ISLINGTON

ROYAL OAK
HAMMERSMITH

SALISBURY
ST MARTINS LANE

SHIP AND WHALE
GULLIVER STREET

UNION TAVEN
CAMBERWELL NEW ROAD

WATERMANS ARMS
RICHMOND

WATERMAN'S ARMS
ISLE OF DOGS

WHEATSHEAF
GOLDHAWK ROAD

WINDSOR CASTLE
HARROW ROAD

 

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DISCOS AND LATE NIGHT 
DRINKING CLUBS

A &B CLUB
WARDOUR STREET

APOLLO
WARDOUR STREET

FESTIVAL CLUB
BRYDGES PLACE

LE GIGOLO
KINGS ROAD

ODYSSEY
VICTORIA

YOURS AND MINE
KENSINGTON

PINK ELEPHANT
NEWPORT PLACE
 


NAPOLEONS
LANCASHIRE PLACE

.
SHANES
BROADHURST GARDENS

TOUCAN CLUB
GERRARD STREET

VORTEX
TACHBROOK STREET

VALENTINOS
SHEPHERDS BUSH CENTRE

ARABIAN
BETHNAL GREEN

CENTRE
BROADLEY TERRACE

CATACOMBES
OLD BROMPTON ROAD

LOUISE
POLAND STREET

MANDYS
 HENRIETTA STREET WC2

MASQUERADE
EARLS COURT

GLF
YORK WAY

GLF DISCO
BRIXTON

TRICKY DICKY DISCO
BISHOPGATE

YOURS FAITHFULLY
OLD BROMPTOM ROAD

 

LOST GAY RESTAURANTS

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 BUNJIES COFFEE HOUSE
CAMBRIDGE CIRCUS

CHAGUARAMAS COFFEE HOUSE
NEAL STREET

BUZZYS BISTRO
KINGS ROAD

BURLINGTON HEALTH CLUB
OLD BOND STREET

LA CASSEROLE
KINGS ROAD

KNAVES KITCHEN
OLD BROMPTON ROAD

LA BICYCLETTE
ELIZABETH ST SW1

LA GIGOLO COFFEE BAR
KINGS ROAD

LE MATELOT RSTAURANT
ELIZABETH STREET SW1

I came across your site when trying to find out about Le Matelot restaurant in Pimlico. We have some of their original plates with the great trio of sailors on them.This is the only photo I have. I believe it's the proprietor standing outside with the bottle. I was given this by a lady who used to go there and was a friend of the owners
Derek 

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EYEBRPOW RESTAURANT
HOLLYWOOD ROAD SW10
MASQUERADE
EARLS COURT

NELL GWYNNES KITCHEN
CRAWFORD STREET

SABAH
EVENSHOLT STREET

SIMPLE SIMON
OLD BROMPTON ROAD

LE RICHELIEU
NEW KINGS ROAD

LORENZOS
SHEPHERDS BUSH

GEMINI
OLD BROMPTON ROAD

SAN TROPEZ COFFEE BAR
KINGS ROAD

WHISTLERS RESTAURANT
KINGS ROAD

WIMPY HOUSE
EARLS COURT

STOCKPOT 
PANTON STREET
GAY LATE EVENINBG
(Still in business but although
many gay customers still not strictly a gay venue)

SIMPLE SIMONS
EARLS COURT

LA POULE AU POT
EBURY STREET

LE REVE
KINGS ROAD

LA POPOTE
WALTON STREET

LOS CHICOS COFFEE CLUB
OLD BROMPTON ROAD

LAST RESORT
FULHAM ROAD

LOST GAY PUBLICATIONS.

.
Magazines from the seventies and earlier also overlap with the eighties and titles listed here may be duplicated on the eighties page.

THE EXA\MINER

JEFFREY

INGOGNOTO PLAYGUY

HEALTH AND STRENGTH


 

FOLLOW UP


.
GAY POWER

SPARTACUS
Later moved to Holland and publisher of Spartacus Guide which survives.

QUORUM

GAY CONTACT

PHYSIQUE PICTORIAL

 

.
COMING OUT

HIM EXCLUSIVE

This changed to Him International, 


Him and was eventually swalled up by Zipper

OUT

 
 

 


SCANDALS AND MORE

Just been reading stuff on your website. Brought back lots of memories of the Pigeons, Euston Tavern, Two Brewers ... couldn't remember the name of the place just off oxford street with the aquariums then stumbled across it, Stallions. Used to have sunday afternoon tea dances. Reminds me of something very interesting.... would say about 31-32 years ago but may be a little wrong. Used to go to a disco called Scandals cannot remember the name of the street but at the side of the swiss centre. They have little books of matches with the name scandals on. One of the hosts was Geoffrey an ageing queen but a very nice guy.
One saturday night I spent at scandals was followed by activities in regents park (in the early hours) with a guy named matthew, from richmond. I went home (to grays in essex) and the following morning work to challenges from my mother about the large mark on my neck and the matches "SCANDALS" She seemed to relate the name SCANDALS to something gay. Oh well. Anyway, all my secrets were suddenly no more. But this guy Geoffrey seemed to appear at Stallions. Perhaps it was run by the same people. Dont know. 
Anyway, cannot find reference to scandals on your website or maybe ive missed it. if not perhaps you'd like to include it. cheers
Kevin


MEMORIES OF DRAG QUEENS IN THE SEVENTIES
From David

The seventies saw a boom in drag queens perhaps triggered by the popularity of Danny La Rue.

I remember a drag show in the West End called Birds of  feather at the Royalty Theatre which featured Barry Scott whose brother became half of Hinge and Bracket. Barry performed in Germany a lot  but could sometimes be seen at the Black Cap. he spent a fortune on his costumes unlike many of todays performers.

Terri Dennis was another favorite who did comedy as well as singing and changed his costume up to eight or nine times in a show.. Throwing on a frock and miming to Shirley Bassey wasn't in his vocabulary.

A third act I remember was Alvis and O'Neil who eventually split up. Many of the acts would not play gay venues and pubs where drag acts performed on a regular basis often had a large percentage of straight customers. Also most of the top acts disppeared into pantomime in the winter playing Dame just as some still do.

George Logan and Perri St. Clair were also starting out with their original act Hinge and Bracket an act which surved for over 25 years.


SEX GUIDE TO SOME POPULAR GAY SPOTS 1977
This article is based on information in Q International Vol2 No1 1977

In 1977 the magazine Q International published a guide to some gay night-spots in London. It gave price of a pint of lager and a glass of coke, the atmosphere, the staff, cruising potential, ventilation and a summary.

For the most part the lager cost from 38 p to 50p a pint compared with £2.40 to over £3 today. Coke cost 20p almost everywhere compared with £1.20 and upwards today.

Ventilation was almost universally poor or awful thanks to the widespread habit of smoking with no air conditioning or extractor fans. Staff were mostly friendly but in some such as the Black Cap in Camden and the Champion in Notting Hill they were rated intolerable or mediocre and rude.

The Black Cap was also considered to have a camp and cliquish atmosphere, and a dead end place and old fashioned.. Cruising was hard work.

The Champion rated a friendly atmosphere but some of the customers very stand-offish and cruising not very good but could be worse. It was rated dull and dingy.

The Union Tavern in Camberwell was gregarious but working class and a bit 1950's and only good for cruising skin heads. Boring and boozy. Sounds OK to me.

The Salisbury which featured in the film 'Victim' was rated Piss elegant, dated, bright and very ungay. Although the staff were friendly it is poorly arranged for cruising and there are some rent boys. Overall uninspiring unless you like wall mirrors and full of uptight people. The writer obviously didn't visit the toilets.

The Catacombs in Earls Court came off rather well with sexy all gay staff, excellent cruising (by English Standards whatever that means) and a youngish crowd. The review ended 'we hope it will survive'. It didn't !

The Coleherne is listed as grotty and seedy and goes downhill fast when the police arrive. The staff were very rude and loved to scream but cruising was excellent. Frequented by foreigners and a leather crowd and can be great fun, or a drag ( depending on whether the writer scored or not I presume). Personally one of the current problems with the Coleherne in 2003 is it has lost that seediness which made it attractive.

The William 1V in Hampstead was relaxed and chatty with some rude staff and some friendly, poor but not impossible cruising and a place just to meet friends or indulge in ' light' cruising whatever that is.

Bangs Disco was considered Loose, wild and fun but no good for cruising. Glades disco was better for cruising with customers removing their shirts !

The Gigolo Disco in the Kings Road was tense and sexually charged and excellent for one night stand cruising. One place where Englishmen were very direct about what they wanted..

The MSC leather club was rated poor for cruising as was the Markham Arms in Chelsea.

So there you have it a snapshot of 1977 Gay London as seen by a writer at the time. Will someone in 2033 look back to 2003 and what we have with envy or pity. Who knows.
 
 

THE ODYSSEY CLUB
January 1975 saw the opening of the Odyssey night spot at Strutton Street, St. James. Formerly known as the Westmister Ballroom it was called the most ambitious gay venue London has ever seen in a magazine of the time.
Licensed from 8pm to 2am and with a £1 admission it featured cabaret, a dance floor and dining. Decor was luxurious with plush curtains everywhere.
Does anyone have more memories of this venue which seems to have been ahead of it's time ?
EARLS COURT 
GUEST HOUSES
Earls Court had several Guest houses catering for gay customers in the mid seventies. There was Redfield Hotel in Cromwell Road and  the Airton in Philbeach Gardens. The first was popular with airline crew and run by an American Paul Perry. The Airton was run by John Eastwood and Paul Harding who were very knowledgeable about the gay scene especially for those new to town.
Both places had a relaxed attitude and many a single visitor ended up as a double.
RODS CLUB
Rods Club in the Kings Road promoted by Christopher Hunter and run by Rod Gooch was a former warehouse which gave it a feeling a spaciousness. The club offered a three course meal for £2.25 and was open from 8pm to 1.0am seven nights a week with cabaret on six of the nights. Membership was £1.50 a month.
Any memories ?
HIM MAGAZINE RAIDED
HIM magazine printers were raided by the Police on August 19th 1975 and 16,500 copies of of the magazine were taken away.  After a 2 day court case a middle aged elderly magistrate ordered all the magazines to be burned as obscene.
The magazine had been raided before but never charged with any offense.
This action  revolved around  features in the magazine Police considered obscene including all the contact ads..
The National Council for civil liberties took up the case but it cost the magazine well over £20,000 to fight.
The action took place under a Labour Attorney General, Sam Silkin.
THE GAY SAUNAS AND BATHS

Bath houses have always been popular especially with bi sexual men and straight guys who like to play around.
London in the seventies had quite a few !

HEREFORD SAUNA CLUB
Hereford Road

KING SAUNA CLUB
Kensington

KING SAUNA CLUB
Chepstow Place

PREMIER SAUNA
Upper St Martins Lane

ROMAN BATHS
Inverness terrace

POPLAR MUNICIPAL BATHS
East India Dock Road

HOTELS

Visitors to London had a good selection of gay friendly hotels where two men staying in a room together would not raise eyebrows.

PRIVATE HOTEL
QUEENS GATE

WEST TWO
KENSINGTON GARDENS

ROMAN COURT
INVERNESS TERRACE
Above Sauna !

ROYAL COURT
SLOANE SQUARE

MAGGIES PLACE
KENSINGTON

COTTAGE HOTEL
EUSTON STREET

CHARBOROUGH HOTEL
STANHOPE GARDENS

HANSEL AND GRETEL HOTEL
BELGRAVE ROAD

WEMBAR HOTEL
EARLS COURT

CINEMAS

The most famous of all was the Biograph in Wilton Road Victoria.Action was in the toilets and in the seats and few bothered with what was on the screen

The Cartoon Cinemas at Victoria Station and Picadilly Circus were also very popluar

The back rows of all cinemas were popular with straights and gays !

OOUTSIDE CRUISING

Outside cruising spots have hardly changed since the seventies and were probably popular for many years before.
They Include
Hampstead Heath
Wimbledon Common
Hammersmith Tow Path
Ham Fields
Twickenham Bridge towpath
Tooting Bec Common
Trafalgar Square
Holland Park Walk
Welsh Harp Reservoir Field
G

HOW TO PICK UP A GUARDSMAN

Men in uniform have always had a special attraction for gay men of all ages.In the seventies there was a scandal involving the Guards in an organised rent boy racket. There was nothing new in this, it was a military tradition which goes back longer than anyone can remember.

Basically low pay drove guardsmen to discover the game known as punting or tyking. Not all of course but in one estimate about 20% were considered to be available. Most of the regulars were over 20 and the going rate was around £20 plus although some could be had for a fiver or an expensive present.

Some punters aimed at the new recruits, those under 19 who hadn't realised their real value and some who hadn't realised that they even possesed a valuable asset, their bodies.

The most popular pubs to pick up a guardsman were the Ship in Windsor, The Golden Lion in central London and the Paxtons Head in Knightsbridge. If a guardsman was in one of these pubs he was available and eye contact, the offer of a drink and agreement on the price was an understood routine.

Other pubs such as three in Windsor, The Round Towers, The Knights Tavern and the Wellington were packed with guardsmen every night but picking out the 20% who might be interested in earning a few pounds was a matter of patience. casual conversation, the offer of a meal somewhere else and finally an invitation home for a drink were stages on the road to satisfaction.

Today of course magazines full of photographs of 'escorts' abound, the internet offers every pleasure anyone could want at a price. Many however remember their guardsmen with affection and perhaps even an erection. 

j.k.f.

OTHER GUARDSMAN PUBS
GRENADIER, WILTON ROAD
HORSE AND GROOM BELGRAVIA
TATTERSALLS, KNIGHTSBRIDGE
 


Stradivarius 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. 
PLEASE CONTACT US BEFORE SENDING IMAGES OR ANY ATTACHMENTS AS OUR SERVER WILL REJECT UNEXPECTED ARRIVALS !
Top of Page

Our Pink History 
A series of articles about our past (Other pages in this section)

.
The nineteeth century
Section 11 and the aftermath

Pinups from the Past
Pictures we drooled over !

1967 and all that
The law changes but attitudes don't

Gay Provincial life
.

The Eighties
Lost pubs,restaurants, magazines

Between the wars and after
Now you see it, now you don't.

The Cottages of Merrie England

Hankie Pankie
The coloured hankie craze

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