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Lost NYC Gay History: Remembering Crisco Disco

Crisco Disco was located at 408 West 15th. between 9th and 10th Avenue in what was once New York City’s old “Meatpacking district”.

Opened in the late 1970’s. Crisco’s as it was called was an after-hours, milti-floor club in an old converted warehouse complete that was open from 9:00 pm at night well into late morning. The DJ booth was a huge Crisco can and it attracted a diverse group, from leather queens, to Twinks to the Studio 54 crowd.

Crisco’s didn’t have a liquor license (you had to buy tickets which you exchanged for drinks) or if you were in with the club owner you could BYOB.

Hank the owner of Crisco had an incredible cocaine habit, he would invite, celebrities, fellow city gay bar and club employees, and all the attractive men he could into his VIP room where a huge pile of blow the size of a card table would be waiting The club’s VIP room was notorious for the free drugs — so famous in fact that Blondie’s song “Rapture,” with the line “Flash is fast, Flash is cool” refers to a “well known coke and heroin dealer who hung out in the club.

Crisco Disco closed in the early-mid 1980’s and the warehouse that housed it was unoccupied for over 30 years and home to old abandoned cars. until it was bought and turned an upscale restaurant during the Meatpacking districts “revitalization”

Unfortunately few pictures remain and not much has been written and documented about Crisco Disco despite it’s important place in New York City’s gay history.

If you have any memories, stories or photos of Crisco Disco please feel free to post them in the comment section below or email me at Will@Back2Stonewall.com


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. 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 on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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9 thoughts on “Lost NYC Gay History: Remembering Crisco Disco”

  1. I find it sad that drugs plays so big a role in both the gay community and the wider “culture” if you can call our citizenry cultured. I admit that I used pot in the early 70s but had had enough after a couple of years. I didn’t come out until the late 80s but was not inclined to party with coke or K or anything else. My first lover was in AA so we drank juice on the rocks at the clubs, not in The City but in New England. Did I miss out on anything? No, I had an amazing coming out and danced my but off for those fabulous years – sober. Would not trade it for a card table full of coke, but I can be nostalgic for the clubs, the music, the gay cruising spots, the activism, the parades, the campgrounds, and working in the HIV/AIDS field. Being gay was so much more exciting before cell phones, Grindr, Manhunt and the internet (or was it because I was so much younger then?)

    1. Part of it is that so many of the formerly fun places aren’t fun anymore, too. NYC and Los Angeles are big dull nothing places now.

  2. I loved that place I was only 15 years old when I went there, Mick Jagger and Bianca hung out there and the most famous of them all was this 80m year woman who always had a young gay guy by her side, I think her name was disco Sally. I remember going into the bathroom and there were a roll of beautiful guys against the wall doing the nasty. Those were the days.. I want to write a play about it because it was so interesting.

  3. Before I moved to New York, I lived in Florence, Italy. There was Crisco Disco there. With a play area. However it being small town you got a bad rep once word got around you’d been there. Embarrassing moment. On one of my first trips back to Europe I took a co-worker there. Wasn’t long until we realized we’d been fooling around with each other.

  4. I’m actually looking for anyone who may remember my grandfather. His stage name was Jaye Joyce and he toured with Dorian Corey and a few others in a show called the Pearl Box Revue

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