Tag Archives: Video

Gay History – July 25, 1979: “Cruising” Movie Shoot Protested By NYC’s Gay Community.

For those of you too young to remember the movie Cruising it is a 1980 psychological thriller film directed by William Friedkin of The Exorcist fame and starring Al Pacino. The film is loosely based on the novel of the same name, by New York Times reporter Gerald Walker. It’s about a rookie NYPD cop that goes undercover to bait a homophobic serial killer in the leather and  S&M world of New York’s Greenwich Village.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force ( back when they had a task and did something ) in a letter to the New York Times wrote that “in the context of an anti-homosexual society, a film about violent, sex-obsessed gay men would be seen as a film about all gay people.  The psychosexual dynamic of Cruising is certainly questionable—deliberately so, to some extent—though in chalking up violent homoerotic impulses to unresolved daddy issues, the movie may be a greater insult to the intelligence of psychoanalysts than to the sensibilities of gays.”

The movie suffered a huge backlash from the LGBT community which did everything it could to disrupt the movies filming in Greenwich Village and promotion in NYC.

Village Voice writer Arthur Bell was the person who raised a call for full-out sabotage of the movie writing that Friedkin’s film “promises to be the most oppressive, ugly, bigoted look at homosexuality ever presented on the screen,” he wrote, “the worst possible nightmare of the most uptight straight. I implore readers . . . to give Friedkin and his production crew a terrible time if you spot them in your neighborhoods.”

Gay-owned businesses on Christopher Street barred the filmmakers from their premises. People attempted to interfere with shooting by pointing mirrors from rooftops to ruin lighting for scenes, blasting whistles and air horns near locations, and playing loud music. One thousand protesters marched through the East Village demanding the city withdraw support for the film to which Mayor (and famous closet case) Ed Koch responded, “Whether it is a group that seeks to make the gay life exciting or to make it negative, it’s not our job to look into that.”

Al Pacino who starred in the movie said that he understood the protests but insisted that upon reading the screenplay he never at any point felt that the film was anti-gay. He said that the leather bars were “just a fragment of the gay community, the same way the Mafia is a fragment of Italian-American life,” referring to The Godfather and that he would “never want to do anything to harm the gay community”.

Friedkin asked noted gay author John Rechy, to screen Cruising just before its release. Rechy had written an essay defending Friedkin’s right to make the film, although not defending the film itself.  At Rechy’s suggestion, Friedkin deleted a scene showing the Gay Liberation Front slogan “We Are Everywhere” as graffiti on a wall just before the first body part is pulled from the river, and added a disclaimer:

“This film is not intended as an indictment of the homosexual world. It is set in one small segment of that world, which is not meant to be representative of the whole.”

Friedkin later claimed that it was the MPAA and United Artists that required the disclaimer, calling it “part of the dark bargain that was made to get the film released at all ” and  “a sop to organized gay rights groups”.   Friedkin also said that no one involved in making the film thought it would be considered representative of the entire gay community, but the late great gay film historian Vito Russo disputed Fredkin’s claims citing the disclaimer as “an admission of guilt” writing  “What director would make such a statement if he truly believed that his film would not be taken to be representative of the whole?”

Now over 40 years later despite the content of the movie which by today’s standards seems schlocky and mediocre at best.  Snippets of Cruising are easily one the most graphic and true depiction of the NYC underground gay leather scene ever seen in a mainstream movie and is also in a way, a documentary of a time and places lost in history with background shots of the West Village and West Side highway that capture that period in time.

Locations like The Ramrod, The Anvil, Mineshaft, and the Eagle’s Nest (the latter two eventually barred Friedkin from the premises) have been gone for decades, but Cruising is a flashback to a time of poppers, color-coded pocket hankies, hardcore discos, bathhouses, backrooms, park cruising and yes even Crisco.  It is a visual time capsule back to a part of our history that has been overshadowed by the plague known as AIDS that would soon wreak havoc on the gay community in the years after the movie was released.

Like it or not the movie Cruising is a part of our history and reflects an era of images and memories that are slowly being lost forever.

Note: The exterior entrance of the club that Al Pacino enters is the door to the infamous Mineshaft in NYC. (CLICK HERE to learn more about The Mineshaft.)  But as stated above Friedkin was barred from filming within the establishment.  The next shot of Pacino walking down the stairs was filmed at the Hellfire Club Sex Club in the Triangle building on 14th Street which later would house J’s Hangout and home of the New York Jacks on 14th and  Hudson Street.

What now stands in its spot is the gentrified 675 Bar which is described as a “subdued lounge attempts to bring back some dignity to the Meatpacking District with pedigreed cocktails, and uncomplicated entertainment”  

If only the patrons of the 675 Bar ever knew.

 

WATCH: Bette Midler’s Final Performance At The Continental Baths in NYC. (1971)

In the late 1960’s Steve Ostrow opened the Continental Baths in the basement of the landmark  Ansonia Hotel, which at one time was home to such greats as Caruso, Stravinsky, and Toscanini.

Famous for its lavish accommodations, the Continental Baths was advertised as being reminiscent of “the glory of ancient Rome.” The impressive features of this bathhouse included a disco dance floor, a cabaret lounge, sauna rooms, an “Olympia blue” swimming pool, and clean, spacious facilities that could serve nearly 1,000 men, 24 hours a day. (And many patrons did!)

One gay guide from NYC in the 1970s described the Continental Baths as a place that “revolutionized the bath scene in New York.”

An extra added attraction at the Continental was the first-class entertainment provided by performers such as Melba Moore, Peter Allen, Cab Calloway, The Manhattan Transfer, John Davidson, Wayland Flowers, and Madame and Bette Midler, who began her career by performing there with Barry Manilow in 1972.

Despite Midler’s constant complaints about “that goddam waterfall,” her poolside performances were so successful that she soon gained national attention, beginning with repeat performances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Many of those who were fortunate enough to see Bette’s early bathhouse shows attest to the fact that her greatest achievement in show business took place the night she convinced the otherwise shy Barry Manilow to accompany her on the piano while wearing only a white towel, which was considered “proper bathhouse attire.”

As the popularity of the cabaret shows increased, a wide variety of entertainers were invited to “give it up” at the Continental Baths, including the soprano Eleanor Steber, who gave a “black towel” concert there in 1973.

The list of visitors to the Continental Baths read like a “who’s who” of the entertainment world, from actors, singers, artists, and producers, to the mafia and even the Metropolitan Oper. They all paid a visit either to see Bette or have some fun.

And for those unfortunate souls who never descended into that legendary basement bathhouse, the Continental Baths were able to come to them in the form of the highly popular Continental Baths towel, which was sold by Bloomingdale’s department store at the height of the club’s fame.

During this period even the mainstream news talk show The Pat Collins Show broadcast live from the club. In one segment, Pat sat by the pool and interviewed proprietor Steve Ostrow while nude men, apparently indifferent to the television cameras, went splashing  (WCBS-TV received only one complaint about the program.)

Below watch one of Bette Midler’s final performances in its entirety at The Continental Baths. (With Barry Manilow on the piano of course)

Apologies about the quality of the videos below but it’s a miracle that it exists at all

Setlist:

“Friends”
“Fat Stuff”
“Chattanooga Choo-Choo” (Andrews Sisters)
“Superstar”
“Empty Bed Blues” (Bessie Smith)
“Marahuana”
“For Free” (Joni Mitchell)
“Easier Said Than Done” (The Essex)
“Chapel Of Love” (The Dixie Cups)
“I Shall Be Released” (The Band)

Gay History – June 20, 1980: “Can’t Stop The Music” Opens Starring Bruce Jenner and The Village People! (And it was baaaaaad.)

Not all our history is good.

Forty-three years ago on June 20, 1980, the absolutely GAYEST, non-gay movie musical comedy ever made, a movie so bad it may have single-handedly actually killed disco.  Can’t Stop the Music opened in theaters across America starring the then he/him Bruce Jenner (now transitioned to she/her Caityln), Steve Gutenberg Valarie Perrine, and the Village People.

Directed by Rhoda’s television mother, Nancy Walker, and written by Allan Carr & Bronté Woodard, CSTM is a very loosely based biography of the Village People which bears absolutely no resemblance to the actual story of the group’s formation done in spectacular campy gaudy technicolor!

The story is about Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg)-a reference to Village People creator Jacques Morali- who gets a break DJing at local disco Saddle Tramps. His roommate Sam Simpson (Valerie Perrine), a supermodel newly retired at the peak of her success, sees the response to a song he wrote for her (“Samantha“) and agrees to use her connections to get him a record deal. Her connection, ex-boyfriend Steve Waits (Paul Sand), president of Marrakech Records (a reference to Village People record label Casablanca Records), is more interested in getting back with her than in Jack’s music (and more interested in taking business calls than in wooing Samantha) but agrees to listen to a demo.

Sam decides Jack’s vocals won’t do, and recruits neighbor and Saddle Tramps waiter/go-go boy Felipe Rose (the Indian), fellow model David “Scar” Hodo (the construction worker, who daydreams of stardom in the solo number “I Love You to Death“), and finds Randy Jones (the cowboy) on the streets of Greenwich Village, offering dinner in return for their participation. Meanwhile, Sam’s former agent Sydney Channing (Tammy Grimes) orders Girl Friday Lulu Brecht (Marilyn Sokol) to attend, hoping to lure the star back. Ron White (Bruce Jenner), a lawyer from St. Louis, is mugged by an elderly woman on his way to deliver a cake Sam’s sister sent and shows up on edge. Brecht gets Jack high, which unnerves him when her friend Alicia Edwards brings singing cop Ray Simpson, but Jack records the quartet on “Magic Night”. Ron, pawed all night by the man-hungry Brecht, is overwhelmed by the culture shock of it all and walks out.

The next day, Sam runs into Ron, who apologizes, proffers the excuse that he’s a Gemini, and follows her home. Spilling leftover lasagna on himself, Sam and Jack help him off with his trousers before Jack leaves and Sam and Ron spend the night. Newly interested in helping, Ron offers his Wall Street office to hold auditions. There Glenn M. Hughes, the Leatherman climbs atop a piano for a rendition of “Danny Boy”, and he and Alex Briley, the G.I. join up. Now a sextet, they get their name from an offhand remark by Ron’s socialite mother Norma. Ron’s boss, Richard Montgomery (Russell Nype).  Overwhelmed by the carnival atmosphere, insists the firm does not represent the group, and Ron quits.

Ron’s new idea for rehearsal space is the YMCA (the ensuing production number “YMCA” features its athletic denizens in various states of undress—along with The Simpsons Movie, the film is one of the few non-R-rated offerings to feature full-frontal male nudity). The group cut a demo (“Liberation“) for Marrakech, but Steve sees limited appeal and Sam refuses his paltry contract. Reluctant to use her savings, they decide to self-finance by throwing a paying party.

To bankroll the party, Sam acquiesces to Channing’s plea to return for a TV ad campaign for milk, on the condition the Village People are featured. The lavish number “Milkshake” begins as Sam pours milk for six little boys in archetypal costumes with the promise they’ll grow up to be the Village People. The advertisers want nothing to do with such a concept and refuse to air the spot. Norma then steps in to invite the group to debut at her charity fundraiser in San Francisco. Sam lures Steve by promising a romantic weekend but Ron is taken aback by the inference that she’d go through with the seduction, and Sam breaks up with him. On his private jet, Steve prepares for a tryst, but it’s Jack and his former chorine mother Helen (June Havoc) who show up, to hash out a contract. Initially reluctant, Helen seduces Steve with her kreplach and before long they’re negotiating the T-shirt merchandising for the Japanese market.

In the dressing room before the show, Ron relieved to learn Sam didn’t travel with Steve, proposes to her. At one point, Montgomery shows up to rehire Ron as a junior partner representing the group. Following a set by The Ritchie Family (“Give Me a Break“), the Village People make a triumphant debut (“Can’t Stop the Music“).

Can’t Stop the Music would later that year go on to have the dubious honor of becoming the first winner of the Worst Picture Golden Raspberry Award.

So everyone raises a toast. With a milkshake of course to Can’t Stop The Music!

They don’t make ‘them’ like that anymore. Thank Goddess.

TRIVIA: Can’t Stop the Music would later that year go on to have the dubious honor of becoming the first winner of the Worst Picture Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Award

 

 

 

Above the Village People’s late, great Glenn Hughes singing “Danny Boy” in the film “Can’t Stop the Music

#OTD Gay History – June 18, 1992: Daytime Soap “One Life To Live” Introduces First Gay Teen Character Played by Ryan Phillippe.

ABC’s One Life to Live, which debuted in 1968 had many storylines tackling women’s issues and race, so it seemed the obvious next choice was to run a new storyline exploring homophobia and the difficulties of being a gay teen.

That was only 30+ years ago.

Billy Douglas (played by Ryan Phillippe), a newcomer to the town of Lianview was reluctant to tell anyone about his homosexuality, especially his parents. He did, however, confide in the town’s compassionate pastor, Rev. Andrew Carpenter. But a scheming woman named Marty who Carpenter rejected began circulating rumors around town that the pastor had been molesting Billy. In a dramatic scene, the entire town, led by Billy’s parents, confronted Carpenter and demanded that he resign, the pastor delivered a riveting sermon against the evils of prejudice and homophobia. This led Billy to take a public stand in support of Carpenter — and to come out to his parents.

But this was not the first gay character that was introduced on an ABC soap.

Almost 10 years earlier in 1983, All My Children became the first soap opera to tackle homosexuality. Tricia Pursley portrayed the divorced Devon McFadden. After a failed, unhappy marriage, a series of destructive decisions, and an affair that led to alcoholism, Devon returned to the show in 1983, after getting help for her drinking problem, as a single mother struggling to make ends meet.

She took a job at Pine Valley Hospital where she met and started dating a fellow single parent, Dr. Cliff Warner. Their happiness did not last long when Cliff found out his ex-wife, Nina Cortlandt, was single again. Cliff tried to let Devon down gently, but she took the break up hard. She was about to take a drink when she met psychologist, Lynn Carson.

Lynn (played by Donna Pescow) became Devon’s pillar. When Devon found out that Lynn was gay, Devon was sure the affection she was feeling for her was love. Devon was especially jealous of Lynn’s ex-girlfriend. Devon confessed her feelings to Lynn, but Lynn did not reciprocate. In the end, the storyline concluded with Devon still in love with Cliff, having just displaced those feelings on Lynn.

Watch the videos below:

Gay History – June 13, 1926: Happy Birthday Paul Lynde. His Funny and Not-So-Funny Life.

JUNE 13, 1926

Comedian Paul Lynde is born. Lynde is best known for his roles as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched and Harry MacAfee, the befuddled father in Bye Bye Birdie both on Broadway and in the hit movie version. His quick gay wit and sarcasm made him a television star unlike no other.

Lynde was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio on June 13, 1926 despite his initial efforts to be taken seriously as an actor, Lynde realized early on that his exaggerated vocal inflections and stinging way of delivering a line got him easy laughs, so he accepted comedy as his future and made his Broadway debut in the hit revue New Faces of 1952 in which he co-starred with fellow newcomers Eartha Kitt, Robert Clary, Alice Ghostley, and Carol Lawrence. In his monologue from that revue, the “Trip of the Month Club,”, Lynde portrayed a man on crutches recounting his misadventures on the African safari he took with his late wife. The show was filmed and released as New Faces in 1954.

After the revue’s run, Lynde co-starred in the short-lived 1956 sitcom Stanley opposite Buddy Hackett and Carol Burnett, both of whom were also starting their careers in show business. 

Lynde returned to Broadway in 1960 when he was cast as Harry MacAfee, the father in Bye Bye Birdie. he was a huge hit and re-created the role when the musical was turned into a movie starring Ann Margeret. 

Lynde was in great demand in the 1960s. During the 1961-62 television season he was a regular on NBC’s The Perry Como Show as part of the Kraft Music Hall players with Don Adams, Kaye Ballard, and Sandy Stewart. He was a familiar face on many sitcoms, including The Phil Silvers ShowThe Patty Duke ShowThe MunstersThe Flying NunGidgetI Dream of JeannieF Troop, and variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Dean Martin Show. He also was featured in several 1960s films, including Send Me No Flowers and The Glass Bottom Boat, both starring Doris Day.

Paul Lynde will always best-known sitcom role was on Bewitched, where he made his debut appearance in the first-season episode “Driving Is the Only Way to Fly.” His role as Samantha Stephens’ nervous driving instructor Harold Harold was so well received by viewers, as well as series star Elizabeth Montgomery and her husband, director/producer William Asher, with whom Lynde became good friends. Asher then created the recurring role of Endora’s practical-joking brother Uncle Arthur.

Then 1966, Lynde debuted on the fledgling game show Hollywood Squares and quickly became its iconic guest star. Eventually, he assumed a permanent spot as the “center square,” a move that ensured that he would be called upon by contestants at least once in almost every round. Despite an urban legend to the contrary, Paul Lynde remained in the center at the producer’s discretion. Many NBC tour guides have claimed that Lynde was afraid of earthquakes and the center square proved to be the safest square of the show’s set. An anecdote related to the A&E Biography on Lynde described an earthquake that occurred during the Hollywood Squares taping that frightened and alarmed many of the guests. Lynde remained in his seat, tapping his fingers, asking if they were going to finish the show.

On Hollywood Squares Lynde was best able to showcase his comedic talents with short, salty one-liners, delivered in his trademark sniggering delivery. Many of these gags were thinly veiled allusions to his homosexuality. Asked, “You’re the world’s most popular fruit. What are you?” Lynde replied, “Humble.”  Asked how many men are on a hockey team, Lynde said, “Oh, about half.” Asked whether it was against the law in Texas to call a Marine a “sissy,” Lynde quipped, “I guess I’ll have to take the law into my own hands.”

Other jokes relied on double entendre, an alleged fondness for deviant behaviors, or dealt with touchy subject matter for 1970s television. Examples include:

Q: “What unusual thing do you do, if you have something called ‘the gift of tongues’?”
Lynde: “I wouldn’t tell the grand jury; why should I tell you?”
Q: “The great writer George Bernard Shaw once wrote, ‘It’s such a wonderful thing, what a crime to waste it on children.’ What is it?”
Lynde: “A whipping.”
Q: “Paul, any good boat enthusiast should know that when a man falls out of your boat and into the water, you should yell ‘Man overboard!’ Now what should you yell if a woman falls overboard?”
Lynde: “Full speed ahead!”

But despite his campy (and gay) television persona, Lynde never publicly came out as being gay and the press generally went along with the deception. In a People magazine article, the magazine featured Lynde and Stan Finesmith who was dubbed Lynde’s “suite mate” and “chauffeur-bodyguard.” Lynde also struggled with alcoholism HS host  Peter Marshall and Lynde’s longtime friend Kaye Ballard confirmed when inebriated, was quite cruel and would sometimes ridicule his friends.

And then there were his run-ins with the law. He had been arrested a few times for drunk driving and, while under the influence of alcohol

Earlier in In July of 1965, Lynde was involved in an incident in which a “friend”, 24-year-old James “Bing” Davidson, accidentally fell to his death from the window of their hotel room in San Francisco’s Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The two had been drinking for hours and “horsing around” when Bing slipped and fell eight stories.

In 1977, Lynde was involved in an incident at his alma mater, Northwestern University (NU), when he was the Grand Marshal for homecoming. At a fast food restaurant after the homecoming parade, he made racist remarks and gestures to African-American NU professor James Pitts. Lynde later blamed his behavior on fatigue and alcohol.

But in 1978, though Paul Lynde’s an incident occurred that permanently damaged  Paul Lynde’s career after he was arrested for public intoxication outside of The Sun Tavern, a gay bar in Salt Lake City.  As a result, he lost his guest starring role on The Donny and Marie Show and acting jobs became harder and harder for him to find, although it is unclear if this was because of anti-gay prejudice or his substance abuse problems and noted erratic behavior which often made him difficult to work with.

Paul Lynde finally became sober and drug-free in the early 1980s, shortly before his death.

Paul Lynde was found dead of a heart attack in his Beverly Hills home by his friend and ex-porn star, male escort, and now-turned Private Detective Paul Barresi.  His remains were cremated and are interred at Amity Cemetery, in Amity, Knox County, Ohio with his family.

Crisco Disco PRIDE Flashback: "He's The Greatest Dancer" Sister Sledge (1979)

Crisco Disco PRIDE Flashback: “He’s The Greatest Dancer” Sister Sledge (1979)

“He’s the Greatest Dancer” was the commercial breakthrough for Sister Sledge. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers in 1979, it was a top 10 hit in both the U.S. and the UK.

The song also became a huge gay disco favorite.

“He wears the finest clothes, the best designers heaven knows, from his head down to his toes… HalstonGucci, Fiorucci.”

#PRIDE - "Oh Connie Casserole!" WATCH: "The Boys In The Band" (1970) HD Remastered

#PRIDE – “Oh Connie Casserole!” WATCH: “The Boys In The Band” (1970) HD Remastered

Love it or hate it.  Mart Crowley’s play “The Boys in the Band” opened in New York on April 14, 1968, at the off-Broadway Theater Four and ran for 1002 performances before being adapted to a successful motion picture.  This was at a time when gay characters were seldom seen in commercial media except as crude stereotypes.  (Although some would argue later in history that is indeed what Crowley’s play presented.)

In the early 1990s a revival production by San Francisco’s Theater Rhino company, some became fearful of the character’s images and some LGBT advocates denounced it as Uncle Tomism because they were worried about the LGBT organization’s attempts to assimilate the community into straight society and were willingly ignoring what a groundbreaking piece of LGBT history the play was for the 1968.

The Boys in the Band is among the first major American motion pictures to revolve around gay characters and is often cited as a milestone in the history of LGBT cinema.

The plot is a simple one:  The film is set in an Upper East Side apartment in New York City in the late 1960s. Michael, a Roman Catholic and recovering alcoholic, is preparing to host a birthday party for his friend Harold. Another of his friends, Donald, a self-described underachiever who has moved from the city, arrives and helps Michael prepare. Alan, Michael’s (presumably straight) old college roommate from Georgetown, calls with an urgent need to see Michael. Michael reluctantly agrees and invites him to come over.

Michael, who believes Alan is a closeted homosexual, begins a telephone game in which the objective is for each guest to call the one person whom he truly believes he has loved. With each call, past scars and present anxieties are revealed. Bernard reluctantly attempts to call the son of his mother’s employer, with whom he’d had a sexual encounter as a teenager, while Emory calls a dentist on whom he’d had a crush while in high school; both Bernard and Emory immediately regret having made the phone calls. Hank and Larry attempt to call one another (via two separate phone lines in Michael’s apartment). Michael’s plan to “out” Alan with the game appears to backfire when Alan calls his wife, not the male college friend Justin Stewart whom Michael had presumed to be Alan’s lover. As the party ends and the guests depart, Michael collapses into Donald’s arms, sobbing. When he pulls himself together, it appears his life will remain very much the same.

While the movie adaptation originally received less than stellar and even sometimes hostile reviews compared to its widely acclaimed play counterpart because of the paradigm shift that happened with the Stonewall riots. Today it is seen as a classic of gay cinema.  Both the play and the movie were groundbreaking.  Despite the cries of stereotyping. No one had ever seen gay people portrayed so boldly.  In The Boys in the Band, the characters dealt with homophobia whether it was internalized or came from the “straight world”. The Stonewall riots pushed gays to fight back against homophobia and not to be complacent. While the play opened in 1968, one year before the Stonewall Riots, by the time the movie adaptation was released in 1970, the gay liberation movement had moved past complacency and wanted more than what The Boys in the Band had to offer.

Bill Weber from Slant Magazine wrote, “The party-goers are caught in the tragedy of the pre-liberation closet, a more crippling and unforgiving one than the closets that remain.”

The Boys in the Band showed how we, as gay men, queers, fairies, faggots, and homosexuals were not alone, and while compelling and at times brutally grim, it is a view into the night of the per-Stonewall gay soul.

The Boys in the Band is an essential gay drama and an essential piece of our history that every LGBT+ person should experience.

Watch the FULL 1970 movie below.

*Copyright Disclaimer Under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education, and research.

MEMORIAL DAY – WATCH: “A Day In The Life Of The AIDS Memorial Quilt” and Remember Our Lost and Fallen.

There is more than one type of war and those who become causalities of it.

On October 12, 1996. The AIDS Memorial Quilt was unfurled on the National Mall in Washington, DC. and it was the last year that the whole of the AIDS Quilt was small enough to fit.

By 1989 alone 48,582 Americans had died from the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control.

A total of 47,355 Americans died in combat during the Vietnam War according to the Department of Defense.

Let us remember our fallen also.

#FlashbackFriday - "Man's Country" Bathhouse TV Commercial (1970s) - Video + History

#FlashbackFriday – “Man’s Country” Bathhouse TV Commercial (1970s) – Video + History

Man’s Country was a wildly popular bathhouse chain that had branches in New York City and Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s and even had a commercial that played on Manhattan All Access Cable television.

Gay bathhouses emerged in the mid-20th century as private establishments where gay, bisexual, and straight men who played could socialize, relax, and engage in sexual activities. These venues provided a safe space for gay men at a time when homosexuality was heavily stigmatized and even criminalized in many places.

Man’s Country was founded by Chuck Renslow, a prominent figure in Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community. Renslow was an entrepreneur, activist, and publisher of gay-oriented publications. He established the bathhouse as a place where gay men could come together, explore their sexuality, and find a sense of community.

Man’s Country in NYC was located on a residential street in a former office building.

The most interesting thing about Man’s Country was that the main orgy room featured a full-sized tractor-trailer cab for us to fulfill your trucker fantasies and have sex on/under/inside, you name it. It was also famous for its $1.00 Tuesday night rates, that attracted mammoth numbers of men.

While popular Man’s Country never reached the same popularity level as the downtown St. Marks Baths or the uptown Everard Baths but it was well visited, to say the least.

Man’s Country in NYC closed at the beginning of the AIDS crisis in 1983.

Ultimately, in 2018, Man’s Country in Chicago closed its doors permanently. Its closure marked the end of an era for the gay community in Chicago,  And the loss of one of the few safe gay spaces for men left.

The Windy City Times has written an excellent article on the history of the past 43 years that Man’s Country has existed. 

One paragraph, in particular, serves as a wonderful summation:

“Renslow is rightfully proud to say that for a long while Man’s Country was the finest bathhouse in the country. After 43 years, the eventual closing of these doors will also be the end of an era. For generations, Man’s Country stood as a symbol for the evolution of gay liberation and consciousness. Though its original grandeur has tarnished, the value and necessity of this building and its place in the evolution of Chicago LGBT history cannot be minimized.”

The closing of Man’s Country was a true end of an era.