Tag Archives: Crisco Disco

Sunday Tea Dance Flashback – Celi Bee & The Buzzy Bunch “Superman” (1977) – Video

Celi Bee s a New York-born singer of Puerto Rican Parents. Born in New York, she initially relocated back to Puerto Rico with her parents.

There she met Pepe Luis Soto and in the 1960’s and they began making music together. In 1972, she won a festival called Festival De La Voz y La Cancion, with the song, “Yo Quiero Un Pincel. She was initially popular in Spain, and Puerto Rico.

In 1977 she recorded a song called “Superman“, which coincided with the release of the film of the same name. The song became a hit, reaching #3 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart and was played  in gay bars, discos, and backrooms EVERYWHERE.

Disappearing Gay History: The Ninth Circle Steakhouse, New York City, NY (1961 - 1990)

Disappearing Gay History: The Ninth Circle Steakhouse, New York City, NY (1961 – 1990)

Gone, but not forgotten The Ninth Circle Steakhouse which closed in early 2002 was located in the West Village on 10th Street right off Greenwich Avenue.  And yes, at one time it really was a Steakhouse that seriously rocked in the 1960’s with a quasi-bohemian clientele..

Originally opened and owned by Mickey Ruskin of Max’s Kansas City fame the Ninth Circle Steakhouse played host to array of singers and musicians and  literati including the likes Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Mingus and others who gathered there nightly to drink and eat.

But in the 1970’s what little star power and customers that remained were not enough to keep business going.  Ruskin sold full ownership of The Circle to Bobby Krivitz.  

The restaurant section downstairs was closed and became a disco starting out completely straight but realizing that there were some serious dollars to be made of the newly liberated gay crowd in NYC, The Ninth Circle literally became a gay bar overnight.

After a few years the disco floor was replaced by a pool table.   And now instead of Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendricks the 9th Circles celebrity clientele changed to Rock Hudson and Jack Wrangler. With one of the best damn jukeboxes in NYC.

Today you’ll be hard pressed today to find out much about the Ninth Circle.  Very little can be found out about it on internet and few pictures remain.  What little info you can find calls The Circle  a hustler bar. But it was far from that and  lets be real in NYC in the 70’s and 80’s almost EVERY gay bar in NYC had a few hustlers in it. But to be honest as its business began to fade in its final few years there were more young men working the world’s oldest profession.

For over 20 years The Ninth Circle was the place to to drink and cruise in Greenwich Village.  Weekends would  literally packed people wall to wall.  And customers wanting to get in would be held at the door until some patrons left.  It was literally a sea of men on the make. All ages, all types.  Clones, twinks, and trolls all getting drunk, trying to get laid, and having a great time doing it.

The Circle was so busy that one night in the late 70’s a man walked in the front door and made his way up to the crowded bar pointed a gun at the bartender and demanded money.  The  bartender who was so busy pouring 4-5 drinks at a time glanced at the robber and  without missing a beat told the gunman that he had to wait his turn. 

The gunman was so shocked by this he turned around and left the bar.

I was a patron of The Ninth Circle and  then worked as a cocktail waiter for a few years from 1980-1982.  I was extremely young, 20  years old and this was before right before New York state raised the drinking age to 21. When they did raise it I was “grandfathered” in meaning that because I was of age to drink before they raised it. I still could.  Which made the the youngest legal worker at the bar.  But i tell you, after working there for a while I may have been young, but I was no longer naïve. (Again. Oh the stories I could tell.

Upon entering The Ninth Circle you looked at a long wooden bar leading down 1/2 the length of room.  A long wooden bench ran down the opposite wall  and over the bar was an equally long mirror so you could sit drinking your cocktail and look up at the mirror to see who entered or who might be behind you worth checking out.  At the end of the bar was the waiters station and a jukebox.  Opposite the jukebox was the entrance to the downstairs bar. (Fred Tree’s domain) On the other side of the jukebox against the wall were chairs and tables and a small square area with more chairs and tables and a pinball machine.  At the end of the room stood a doorway with a small staircase that led to the dimly candlelit patio “garden”.  Which was aptly named because there was much green in that garden being the copious amounts of marijuana that was smoked and sold back there. (Along with other various pharmaceuticals of the era: Black Beauties, Quaaludes Valium, etc.)  I cannot even tell you how many times I was tipped in joints, Nickle bags and other substances. (Ah memories. Well what I actually can remember.)

When you ventured downstairs there was a much smaller bar, a pool table, pinball machine, a video game and the bathrooms.  Theis was bartender Fred Tree’s kingdom. This is where most of the “twinks”  and a few hustlers hung out along listening to Tree who told the worst jokes in the world, celebrated Russian Christmas, and  was an all around great guy.  Tree still bartends today at The Stonewall Inn. 

It was really was the best of times to be young and gay.  But in a few years because of what was loomed on the horizon it would become the worst. 

But looking back now, even mixed in with the tragedy of the AIDS pandemic and the loss the followed the memories of The Ninth Circle  are some of the best memories of my life.  What compares to serving cocktails and hanging out with Jack Wrangler.  (Oh by the way and the reason his cock looked so big was because he was really short. I know this for a fact.) Or dancing the night away at Crisco’s Disco, or The Anvil and leaving their drenched in sweat on a Sunday morning at sunrise.  Nothing beat going to Fire Island, The Bartenders Ball or being on the guest list at Studio 54.

Tree, John Koch, Jerry, Michael, Portia, Randy, Sonny, Don and Craig (whatever happened to you man you man. You were my first huge crush) and many more I miss to this day and if you ever read this and are still around PLEASE CONTACT ME.

The Ninth Circle which was my institute of higher learning (literally) and will always be a part of who I am today.

They say what gets posted on the Internet is there forever. 

So consider this is just my way of making sure that the memory of The Ninth Circle never disappears.

Have an interesting  bon mot, humorous story, or raunchy memory of the The Ninth Circle?  Please feel free to post it in the comments section below.

Gay History – December 14, 1974: NYC’s FIRST Exclusively Gay Disco “Flamingo” Opens It’s Doors

Flamingo

Before 12 West (1975),  Crisco Disco (opening date unknown), Paradise Garage (1977), or Studio 54 (1977). The Flamingo (1974) was NYC’s first exclusively gay disco.  The Sanctuary (1969-72) tried to make this claim but it attracted a good number of heterosexuals couples and single women as well and was not “exclusively gay”.  

Flamingo was promoted as the first discotheque for an exclusively gay male clientele and opened on December 14, 1974.  It was located on the 2nd floor of a building at the corner of Houston St. and Broadway in New York City.  Since there was a constant fear police raids  the club had an unlisted telephone number, but members and those in the loops knew they would find it under Gallery for the Promotion of People, Places, and Events housed at 599 Broadway.

Started  by Michael Fesco, a former Broadway dancer and a gypsy in the chorus of Irma La Douce,  members paid  up to six hundred dollars a year “membership” (In 1975 that was a lot of money even by gay standards) .  The Flamingo was in an upstairs loft space, and there were two stunning women who operated the door, both with gardenias behind their ears.  After passing them at the entrance they were the last women who you would see as in the beginning it was an “all male” club.

The club was famous for the intensity and  its t inventive parties. “They were the birthplace of Black parties and White parties,” says a writer Stuart Lee. adding that there were also set pieces such as a Crucifixion with the models dressed as Roman legionaries, and a Jesus Christ who would, from time to time, turn his eyes heavenward and ascend a cross.

From  DiscoMusic.com:

kryptonbear:

I first went to Flamingo as a guest of my roommate in the fall of 1975.

You entered through the door on the corner of Broadway & West Houston, then up a flight of stairs. Upon entering the club on the 2nd floor, coat check was on the left, with a row of banquettes running along the south wall parallel to coat check. There was an open space leading west from the coat check to a wall with two doorways on either end, which were the entrances to the dance floor. The dance floor itself was a large, white rectangular room with the DJ booth at the top of the wall on the center right as you entered the room. Across the top width of the wall you had just passed through to enter the dance floor was a huge electric board that looked like a piano keyboard and lit up with various colors that shone on the dance floor. Beyond the dance floor at the far end was a lounge area, which was a black room that got very naughty late in the evening .

I finally got my own membership by speaking with Sam, the manager of the club, who told me to just stop by during the week and speak to Jane, a lady who worked during the daytime in the office of the club, which was located behind coat check, overlooking Broadway.  It was that easy for me, which I was surprised at since having a membership there was a big deal at the time.

One of my most vivid memories of Flamingo was a party in April of 1976 called the Tropicana Party. The club was decorated in a tropical motif for the night, and most of the guys that night were dressed in Hawaiian shirts and Levi 501’s. At the height of the evening, the music stopped and the place went dark. With the lights off, a song by Celia Cruz came on, and when the lights came up, the banquettes in the front room were lined with couples dressed as if they were at the old Tropicana Club in 1950’s Havana, Cuba, all dancing to the mambo beat of the music. It was one of the greatest parties ever at THE greatest club ever.

The Flamingo would close its door’s in the winter 1980/1981 shortly after the Saint opened and the club kids ruined the dance scene.

Have any memories of the Flamingo?  If so post them in the Comment section and lets have these memories dance on forever.

Ooha ooha let’s all chant!

Flamingo Membership cars

Crisco Disco #FlashbackFriday ! - Patrick Hernandez: "Born To Be Alive" (1979)

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 sat unoccupied unoccupied over 30 years 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

Famous Disco Diva Ms. Gloria Gaynor literally took matters into her own hands by posting a short clip on the video platform TikTok, showing people how to keep their hands clean

Back2Stonewall’s Sunday Tea Dance – October 23rd: Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” Released 38 Years Ago Today – Video

loria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" Released 38 Years Ago Today - Video

 

Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem I Will Survive is 38 years old today. originally released on October 23rd 1978 the song about getting through a broken relationship was quickly adopted by the gay community who embraced it’s themes of strength and persistence.

The song was written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris, and recorded by Gloria Gaynor in 1978.

‘I Will Survive’ was the b-side to another tune “Substitute”, but DJs loved the song and kept playing it, leading to it being released as a single in it’s own right.

Undoubtedly Gaynor’s biggest hit, ‘I Will Survive’ went to the top of the charts, but the singer also had success with her version of ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ and the queer anthem ‘I Am What I Am’.

In 2016 the cultural significance of the song was recognized when it was added the US Library of Congress.

 

 

First I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live
without you by my side
But I spent so many nights
thinking how you did me wrong
I grew strong
I learned how to carry on
and so you’re back
from outer space
I just walked in to find you here
with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed my stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second
you’d be back to bother me

Go on now go walk out the door
just turn around now
’cause you’re not welcome anymore
weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
you think I’d crumble
you think I’d lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
as long as i know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
and I’ll survive
I will survive

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart
kept trying hard to mend
the pieces of my broken heart
and I spent oh so many nights
just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
Now I hold my head up high
and you see me
somebody new
I’m not that chained up little person
still in love with you
and so you felt like dropping in
and just expect me to be free
now I’m saving all my loving
for someone who’s loving me

"Crisco Disco" Music FLASHBACK – "Lay All Your Love On Me" – ABBA (1981)

The Year: 1981
The Place:  Crisco Dosco – West 15th Street corner of 10th Avenue -Manhattan  (New York)
Shirtless men dance,  poppers are passed, and the beat thumps through your very soul and you are free
Click the button below and close your eyes and go back in time.