The BEST of Back2Stonewall: Remembering NYC’s Mineshaft – 835 Washington St. NYC, NY (1976 – 1985)

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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24 Responses

  1. I won’t bore anyone with my memories except to say that I remember large Crisco cans everywhere for fucking and fisting. It was very exciting and very scary to me. I was very young and inexperienced but apparently I passed muster!

  2. Will Kohler says:

    LOL I am sure that you did!

  3. Greg says:

    I do not think people should be ashamed of gay clubs like The Mineshaft. To me, as a younger gay, they are simply a part of our history – our gay history.

  4. When i came to the Mineshaft first tim, I knew at once: This place is My Place.
    It was great and I had so much pleasure there… several times.
    Mineshaft – i cannot forget!

  5. Presty says:

    I was there the night it opened, and countless times thereafter. Had access to all the A-list discos at the time: 54, Flamingo, etc, did Fire Island Pines most summers…but suffice it to say, there was and has been no other place as sleazy (in a good way, just sayin) that I have ever come across, worldwide. Yeah, that time had to end, unfortunately, as many of us, now living or not, all knew back then. Thanks for the memories though, I’ll use them as jack-off fodder later tonight!

  6. If my memory serves me correctly, my first visit to the MINESHAFT was over NYC gay pride weekend of 1980. And shortly my September 1980 move to NYC from Washington DC I and sometimes with my best friend made regular visits there. And until its closure in October 1985 met many who I shared many good times with.

    Like you, I make no apologies for having been a frequent visitor and feel proud that I was self-assured enough to experience sexuality and life on my terms while at same time respect the same of others who I met along the way.

    Great article and excellent reflection on gay culture and history.

  7. andrew says:

    I also look back with nostalgia for the loss of that place and era. I visited from London only twice. I thank the author for his kind and true contribution.

  8. judymarla says:

    Bathhouses greatly contributed to the early epidemic. It was correct to shut them down. Here’s what is so heartbreaking to me: remember the Legionnaires Disease outbreak in 78? The response was immediate. The US government did not release it’s first CDC pamphlet on how to avoid the disease until 1988. Gays having sex in the 1981-1985 time frame had their fates sealed,

  9. james says:

    Thank you keeping the history of our people alive.

  10. etseq97 says:

    Nostalgia is one thing but you elide all the downsides on that era – the clone culture/cult of masculinity that was severely restricted who had access to this sexual nirvana and even way before AIDS became the issue, other STD’s were becoming an issue – not to mention the psychological toll that had on many guys who burnt out from such an extreme sexual rat race. Also, you paint a rosy picture of out and proud gay men enjoying the fruits of liberation but many of the participants were closet cases motivated by shame and treated their sex partners will a level of disgust as soon as the sex was over (if not during). For many out gay men of the time, they were either excluded because of looks, race, and age or had a different vision of gay life that wasn’t so hyper-sexualized. You seem to imply that any criticism of the sex club bath house culture of the era is some form of historical self-loathing and shame and I think that in itself is a bit of revisionist history.

  11. Charles Spriggs says:

    It is obvious that you would have been one who suffered so much from those bad times, nostalgia or no, I loved my few times there more than todays feeble web sex culture.

  12. And The Anvil around the corner with its downstairs and tunnels? Or Alex in the 80s- 90s whose backroom above Hell was notoriously active?

  13. Dave says:

    I will never forget the places like the Mineshaft, the Adonis Theater, the Anvil, the trucks, the piers and 1st and 1st baths. Those were fun days for me. Now looking back at the age of 69 I say to myself “how dangerous” how did I make it out alive, but I wouldn’t change a thing! Thanks for all the good memories!

  14. JTO says:

    I have many great memories of the Mineshaft in the early 80s. Especially of the owner, Wally.

  15. John Twiss says:

    I see no shame in the Mineshaft or the Anvil both of which I thoroughly enjoyed and where I garnered many happy memories. I was living in the Middle East at the time and coming back to the states my first action was to drop my bags at my cousins place on east 79th before booking a room for the week either at the East side Baths or at the St. Marks then dividing my time between the baths, the Mineshaft and the Anvil!

  16. Anthony pardi says:

    New York City and the A gays this city is an absolute joke compared to the rest of the world pity the poor young homos who think this city is fun.

  17. mark styles says:

    I went there several times toward the end.. I would go have sex.. come out feeling, dirty, ashamed, freaked out, but by the next weekend I would go again.. Certainly learned some lessons there.. Pretty shocking for the uninitiated..

  18. David Jarrett says:

    I enjoyed the abundant availability of gay sex in the 1970s. I visited the Anvil (monitoring the dark rooms in the basement — LOL), the Mine Shaft, the bathhouses, the backroom bars such as the Stud (my regular favorite), the trucks, the piers, etc. It was fun to cruise and meet guys face-to-face. Today, most young guys search for sex partners via the internet (with many fake photos). They really missed out on the fun we oldsters had pre-AIDS. I lost many friends but survived.

  1. July 25, 2015

    […] The exterior entrance of the club is actually the door to the infamous Mineshaft in NYC. (CLICK HERE to learn more about The Mineshaft.)  But Friedkin was barred from filming within the establishment.  The next shot of Pacino walking […]

  2. June 17, 2016

    […] real estate and a city government that was willing to look the other way when it came to, say, S&M clubs like the Mineshaft in the Meatpacking District (dress code included no cologne). But even as the '70s in New York […]

  3. June 18, 2016

    […] real estate and a city government that was willing to look the other way when it came to, say, S&M clubs like the Mineshaft in the Meatpacking District (dress code included no cologne). But even as the '70s in New York […]

  4. October 16, 2017

    […] Back2Stonewall has an article on NYC’s legendary Mineshaft leather bar […]

  5. October 29, 2017

    […] Personal stories say there was an entire wall of glory holes with people kneeling in front of crotch-high holes and servicing disembodied erections. A whole rabbit warren of small rooms was downstairs, a re-creation of a jail cell, the back of a truck, dungeons and the most infamous room talked about in NYC at the time.  A room where there was a bathtub in which men so inclined would take turns being pissed on. […]

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