Tag Archives: 1980’s

Forgotten Gay History – The Anvil: 500 W. 14th Street NYC (1974 to 1986)

One of the most notorious and fun gay after-hours nightspots in New York City of the 1970’s and 1980’s was THE ANVIL located at 500 W. 14th Street.

Built in 1908 by the Conner Brothers, this building was originally known as “The Strand Hotel.” The three-story hotel catered to sailors and was located on a patch of land known as Dalamater Square.  

“It is a three-story structure, on the ground floor of which is a saloon and the upper part of which contains 28 rooms,” stated a court document from 1914.

“[The Strand] accepts only men as roomers,” the document added, and caters “to the class of trade that has business at the river front.” Ehmmmmm.

Opened in the fall of 1974 The Anvil, a split-level “after hours nightclub” opened on the north facing side of the building which was now the infamous hot-sheet,  pay-by-the-hour Liberty Inn. The statements “accepts only men” and “the class of trade that has business at the river front.” really hadn’t changed all that much.

The bouncers were as brutal and as wonderfully sleazy as The Anvil itself.  And they always took care to notice of the number of people that were in the club at one time as to not break fire regulations and give the city an excuse to raid them. With lines that sometimes formed around the block on a busy Friday or Saturday night unless you were known or a fellow bar employee you could wait hours to get in.  While (some) drag queens were welcome, women were not. Although a few did make it in mostly due to trickery or their celebrity status The Anvil was one of the hottest, sleaziest, and most glorious places to be for gay men of that period.

The main floor contained a dance floor, a rectangular bar and a performance area all painted black where everything would go on at once.

The after-hours atmosphere of the Anvil was wound up and kenetic from the amount of alcohol and drugs its patrons had already consumed, and would consume by the end of the night.

Male dancers would perform on the bar as bartenders poured drinks around them.  On the smallish stage on the dance-floor drag performers such as Candy Stevens that would perform bizarre acts with a five foot snake while fire-eating. Other drag performers were “The Famous Yuba” who was one of the first performers there and who stayed until the end. Loretta Fox, Dana Terrell, “The Long Legged Lady of The Night…” Arien West, Diana del Rio, The Amazing Electrifying Grace, Brandon Forte, and Ruby Rims the infamous singing waiter from The Duplex wound perform.

Between drag shows the disco music pumped away at an earsplitting volume as shirtless and sweaty men danced to the beat packed together side by side.  Poppers were passed freely from man to man and from time to time you could actually feel the floor bounce and shake beneath your feet to the beat of the music.

Downstairs was the coat-check run by the ever jovial Patrick. There was another small bar downstairs and a large screen on which gay male porn of the period was played. Behind the screen was a cavernous backroom where it was pitch black and never boring.  Shouts of “Gentlemen watch your wallets.” would echo through the basement as Patrick called out the warning every 15 – 20 minutes against pickpockets.  (Rumor also had it that there were tunnels beneath The Anvil that ran directly to the piers. But it has never actually been proven.)

Patrons would emerge (I included) sopped with sweat and wearing sunglasses after a long Saturday night in the dawns early light only to pass people from bordering neighborhoods going to early Sunday morning Mass. 

Because of the era involved there are no interior photographs of the Anvil available to publish. But it was really nothing spectacular. You see it was not the inside of The Anvil that made it what it was.  It was the patrons, gay men who many of whom are gone now which is why it is important to remember these scared gay spaces of yesterday.

The Anvil was closed in 1986 another victim of the AIDS epidemic and the clean-up ou “sex establishments” in NYC.   And while The Anvil is long gone, the Liberty Inn lives on as NYC’s highest rated  romantic couples short stay hotel.

Its nice to know some things never change.

Have a story you’d like to share about The Anvil?  Post it in the comments section for history’s sake.

Jeremiah's Vanishing New York: Outrageous!

Sex Club Anvil NYC | Ephemeral New York

80's Heartthrob Jan-Michael Vincent Dies at 74

80’s Heartthrob Jan-Michael Vincent Dies at 74

Jan-Michael Vincent — the ’80s heartthrob best known for his role on TV’s “Airwolf” – and the low budget Sy-Fy classic Damnation Ally has passed away at the age of 74.

Vincent passed away on February 10th. after suffering cardiac arrest while a patient at a North Carolina hospital … according to the death certificate.

The document states he was an inpatient at the hospital in North Carolina and is survived by his third wife, Patricia Ann Christ.

Vincent’s career waned after his Airwolf heyday and he retired from acting in 2009.

During the 1990s, he was involved in three severe automobile collisions, which he barely survived. In an accident in August 1996 Vincent broke three vertebrae in his neck. He also sustained a permanent injury to his vocal cords from an emergency medical procedure, leaving him with a permanently raspy voice. The first near fatal accident occurred in February 1992 and the third happened in September 1997. [

In 2012 a leg infection required him to have the lower half of his right leg amputated.

No autopsy was performed and he was cremated. His memorial location is unknown. 

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Image result for jan michael vincent
Image result for jan michael vincent

HIV/AIDS Pioneer Researcher and Hero Dr. Mathilde Krim Passes Away At 91


Mathilde Krim, a pioneer in the field of AIDS research, passed away Monday at the age of 91.

Krim, founding chairman of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, devoted her life to the fight against HIV/AIDS, in particular raising the public’s awareness of the devastating disease.

Soon after the first cases of what would later be called AIDS were reported in 1981, Krim recognized that this new disease raised grave scientific and medical questions and that it might have important socio-political consequences. She dedicated herself to increasing the public’s awareness of AIDS and to a better understanding of its cause, its modes of transmission, and its epidemiologic pattern. Contributing to the fight against AIDS, she established AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983. Later the Foundation merged with a similar organization and called the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR).  With Elizabeth Taylor, she founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research contributing generous amounts of her own funds and lending her considerable skills to raising awareness about AIDS and raising funds for AIDS research. She continued working on behalf of AIDS awareness through AmfAR.

Journalist Andy Humm of Gay USA writes:

All honor to the great Dr. Mathilde Krim, founder of AmFAR (started as the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983), who died today at 91–a giant in the fight against HIV and AIDS bringing both scientific and fundraising savvy and celebrities to the cause in the worst years of the AIDS pandemic. A tireless brilliant, calm, steady voice for healing, research, compassion and justice. Millions owe her their lives.

Krim was awarded 16 doctorates honoris causa and has received numerous other honors and distinctions. In August 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, in recognition of her “extraordinary compassion and commitment”. In 2003, Krim received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.

Mathilda Krim died peacefully at her home in King’s Point, New York on Monday January 16, 2018

NYC’s Mineshaft – 835 Washington St. NYC, NY (1976 – 1985)

At one time New York City’s Mineshaft was the most notorious “members only” gay S&M/B&D sex club in history and today it’s memory is treated as a dirty little  secret by the assimilated A-Gay crowd and is almost all but a forgotten.

The building that housed the Mineshaft was constructed in 1927 as an ordinary business office, and become the most incredible sex-palace in the ’70’s.

Opened in October 1976 years before the onset of AIDS the Mineshaft was a sexual playground that would make Caligula blush.

Membership was granted on the spot if one fit in – no designer clothes, no sneakers, no cologne.  Located on Washington Street at Little West 12th Street in the heart of the meatpacking district, it was open around the clock from Wednesday night through Monday morning, featuring a clothes check, dungeons, and other amenities. Strolling about naked or in a jockstrap  was encouraged.

Upon arrival the Miineshaft’s nondescript street-level door opened to a stairway which led up to the doorkeeper, sitting on a barstool.  If you could pass muster you were let in.

Thee Mineshaft had rules of entrance, denim and leather only, no shirts with little alligators, no sneakers, and absolutely no cologne. But once inside everything was fair game.  The Mineshaft existed for one reason and one reasons alone..  SEX.  Pure hedonistic no-limits sex.

Just inside the door was the big bar area with its low lights and pool tables. Behind a partition was the “action” part of the club on two floors. 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 jailcell, 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 would take turns being pissed on.  But there were glimpses of romance at the Mineshaft: in the basement two stoned men are kissing passionately under black light.unaware of everyone around them, while feet away another man was blindfolded sitting in a sling while a group of men took turns fucking him.

In this day and age to many it’s shocking.  In the gay life in NYC in the late 70’s and early 80’s it was non-news.

In the early 80s with the outbreak of AIDS the Mineshaft scene turned sour.  NYC swept through the gay sex haunts of the community shuttering establishments left and right under ‘health violations” which in reality they were.  But it was also the chance that NYC needed to rid the city of sex establishments.

The Mineshaft was closed by the New York City Department of Health on November 7, 1985

Were establishments like The Mineshaft, The St. Marks Baths, The Adonis, The David and other X-rated theatres and venues responsible for AIDS?  No, not really.  They certainly didn’t help. But they were not the cause.  The city closed these establishments and still men gay men persisted having unprotected sex. Once one club was closed they moved to one that was still open, after the clubs were gone they went to the porn theatres, and after the porn theatres they went to Central Park, back to the bars and by then the internet came into play  If half the time, money and effort that NYC spent on closing these spots went to Health Education and planning with the gay community  the stigma of gay sex would have been much different.  Now please don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that places like the Mineshaft and others were innocent when it came to the spread of AIDS. But in reality they played a very small part of the overall problem which was the lack of information, education, and research.

I have many friends who did not make it through the 80’s because of that cursed disease.  But as much as I still love them and weep over their loss to this day, as callous as it sounds in the end especially in the mid-late 80’s it was their responsibility to take precautions and use protection . If you didn’t you played Russian roulette.  And while some men dodged the bullet many more lost.  At that time GMHC and ACT-UP! did their best but New York City and our Government ignored the real problem.  AIDS, HIV education and finding a cure.  New York City’s answer was to close the clubs and “clean up” NYC.  The Governments answer under Reagan was to ignore the problem and let gay men die.

So here we are over 25+ years after the height of the AIDS epidemic and there is still no cure.  The memories of places like the Mineshaft have been hidden away and swept under the rug like a dirty family secret, and are slowly being forgotten.  Should we be ashamed of it?  No.  It is part of our history and existed in another time far away from the morally uptight society of today.

I am a survivor of that time. 

I remember, I mourn, and I go on. 

I have my memories of that time both good and bad and I must embrace them all and can never forget. 

And before they, and myself disappear I post them here so they can live on.


Time Capsule From Famous 1980s NYC Club Danceteria Mistaken For WWII Bomb

A device shaped like a World War II-era bomb unearthed by Manhattan construction workers on Wednesday turned out to be a time capsule from a popular 1980s dance club.

The NYPD’s Emergency Services and bomb squad units were called to the scene in Manhattan’s Flatiron District for a “suspicious package.” Construction workers dug up the fake bomb while working at the site.

After a brief evacuation, officials determined the item wasn’t a threat, and the story of how the item ended up there began to surface.

the “bomb” was actually a time capsule that clubgoers and bartenders from Danceteria buried in 1985, the club’s former owner John Argento told the New York Daily News.

He said he bought the item for $200 at an Army Navy store on Canal Street.

“I kind of mentioned it as a joke back then,” Argento told The Daily News. “Someone’s going to dig this up and think it’s an unexploded bomb.”

“We forgot about it and went on to the next party.”

Danceteria operated from 1979 until 1986.


Answering the Call: Cleve Jones Talks About 30 Years Of The San Francisco AIDS Foundation – Video

It began in April of 1982 in a small office space above Castro Street. Co-founder and activist Cleve Jones describes the early days of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the community’s response to HIV/AIDS, and his vision for the future.

MUST SEE VIDEO – KABC Eyewitness News Special Reports Circa 1981 – The Gay 80’s

AWESOME video archival news fottage which features KABC Los Angeles local news items on the booming gay culture in San Francisco and Los Angeles before the AIDs epidemic circa 1980

My kingdom for a hoit tub time machine.

Footage gathered for SPKR: Evolution of the Gay Dancefloor an event on Saturday March 12th, 2011 at Public Works. More information on the event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=202062839809155

Gay Camp Classic: Bea Arthur & Madame sing "A Good Man is Hard to Find" And Actually Sort Of "OUT" Rock Hudson – (Video) 1980

Classic Camp from our beloved Bea Arthur as she and Madame get catt and discuss “The Rock” as in Rock Hudson and how he would “never ever take advantage of a woman” (HOW TRUE!) and then finish off by warbling an old Sophie Tucker tune.

Mark Ruffalo to Star in Film Adaptation of Larry Kramer’s ‘The Normal Heart’

Mark Ruffalo tells MTV News that he’s going to star in Larry Kramer’s adaptation of his semi-autobiographical play The Normal Heart.

Says Ruffalo:

“It’s basically a story of when the AIDS outbreak happened in New York. It wasn’t really taken seriously, I think specifically because it was ‘the gay cancer,’ they called it. I think it’s a really interesting time in America. I think to see someone who really does change the world by his commitment and he’s even totally by himself at times, there’s still a real power in that. I love that it’s a people-powered movement that actually changed the way our government looked at this epidemic. I think there’s a real powerful message to that and something that we forget. We can get really cynical about what we can do, it gets stacked against us and they’re all corrupt — and at the end of the day, everything starts with people. The reason they’re there is because of us…It’s a juicy part. It’s just a great role, man. He’s a fighter, you know?”