NY gay bar closed by health department

Julius on Waverly Place at 10th Ave in The Village

New York’s oldest (sort of) gay bar — Julius — was closed by the board of health this week. Julius is located one block up and one block over from the Stonewall Inn.

The bar opened in 1867. Not until 1966 was it officially a gay bar. But for years, gay men hung out at Julius, even though they were subject to constant harassment.

As Greenwich Village became more and more gay during the 1950s and ’60s, its gay residents hung out at this friendly neighborhood bar. People like Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote used to go to Julius.

Nearby Stonewall was not nearly as nice (or historic) as Julius and Stonewall was known more as a hangout for drag queens (and people like Dallas’ Phyllis Guest who was at Stonewall the night of the raid).

Owners of Julius resisted having the bar turn gay, so they enforced the New York State Liquor Authority rule that prevented bartenders from serving the disorderly. Homosexuals were included in the liquor authority’s definition of disorderly — which makes this a good place to insert that this is one of the first gay bars I ever hung out in after I came out in college and hung out in Greenwich Village in the early ’70s. I was probably attracted to this bar at the time because scenes from the film Boys in the Band — the only gay film out there at the time — were filmed at Julius.

In 1966, in a final attempt to keep gays out, Julius hung a sign after a police raid that said, “This is a raided premises.” The hope was that gays who were afraid of being arrested, exposed as gay and fired from their jobs would stay away.

The Mattachine Society had filed a lawsuit challenging the liquor authority’s rules, claiming a right to assemble. That was followed by an investigation by the city’s Human Rights Commission. Mattachine won its suit and sometime that year, Julius’ owner realized his clientele was gay, had been gay and the neighborhood was becoming more gay. It’s been a gay bar — officially — since then.

Owners said they plan to clean up the mouse and roach problem that caused the health department to close the place and, after a new inspection this week, be reopened by the weekend.

Big news for Dallas? Not at all. But when I saw a news item about Julius, it brought back memories of being a kid hanging out in the Village.

And many people think gay history— and gay people — began with Stonewall on June 28, 2008. We were actually around — and going to bars, protesting, organizing and living our lives — long before that.

—  David Taffet

Highlights from UP’s Pride Festival

From an audience standpoint, Uptown Players’ inaugural Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival has been a hit, with a wide range of shows at the Kalita, including rare mid-week performances.

The best of the lot: The New Century, easily Paul Rudnick’s funniest play. Basically a series of three monologues or short scenes capped by a reunion of all the characters, it’s a near-formless series of vignettes performed by a crackerjack cast: Marisa Diotalevi plays the world’s most accepting (and put-upon) PFLAG mom; Paul J. Williams is Mr. Charles, a cable-access host known as the gayest man alive; and Lulu Ward is a Midwestern housewife and crafter whose recollections of her gay son are hilarious, poignant and beautiful. They are all fantastic, but Ward — modulating between absurdist shtick and repressed sorrow that squeaks out of the corners of her eyes — gives the best performance I’ve seen on a stage in Dallas this year. She’ll leave a lump in your throat. Final performance: Saturday at 4 p.m.

The 1980 lesbian melodrama Last Summer at Bluefish Cove is something of a time-capsule, with references to David Susskind and Donahue and when feminism was still controversial in society, and not just on FoxNews. Coming as it does about the mid-point between The Boys in the Band and Love! Valour! Compassion!, it bridges those elements and changes the characters to women: A straight newcomer falls into a nest of sniping friends over a summer by the beach. While it’s a bit hokey — cancer, romance, turning a straight girl gay — makes it feel occasionally formulaic, it’s a fascinating piece well-acted by a cast led by Diane Box, Beth Albright and Mary-Margaret Pyett. (Although called a “staged reading,” it is basically a full-on production with sets, lights, costumes and staging.) Final performance: Today at 8 p.m.

The mainstage show Beautiful Thing, based on the British film, it’s a tender story of working class boys coming of age. It’s a finely detailed piece full of heavy accents, specific imagery and a realistic, tentative relationship between young men coming into their sexuality. The tight cast especially the boys, Parker Fitzgerald and Sam Swenson, load it with charm. Final performance: Saturday at 2 p.m.

Not every show is worth recommending. Indeed, the centerpiece production, Crazy, Just Like Me, is a tortured bit of pop musical pabulum. Drew Gasparini wrote the score and co-wrote the book, and neither have a speck of creativity. Simon has been best friend and roommate of Mike for 23 years, but no one seems to have noticed that Simon is gay except Mike’s new girlfriend Jessica. Simon, in a series of banal and redundant therapy sessions, finally comes to terms with his homosexuality but still manages to screw everything up. The indistinguishable tuneless songs are Jonathan Larson wannabes — call it Low-Rent — and the actors seem awkward delivering the cumbersome lines. You’d be crazy to like this one. Final performance: Today at 7:30 p.m.

UptownPlayers.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best bets • 07.01.11

Friday 07.01

Do not mess with the lez rocker
Otep Shamaya is quite the unpredictable rock star. She’s dead serious about her place in heavy metal and her band OTEP. Last time we interviewed her, every joke we cracked went by without even so much as a chuckle. Or maybe we’re just not funny. She and her boys in the band are on the road supporting their new album Atavist.

DEETS: Trees, 2709 Elm St. Doors at 7 p.m. $15–$19. All ages. TreesDallas.com.

………………..

Sunday 07.03

Camping out
The 23rd Annual Miss Firecracker pageant returns just in time for July 4. Heavy on the camp and actual singing, the contest is also a benefit for TGRA and its charities. The winner goes on to compete for Miss Charity America. The lovely Victoria Weston will serve as one of the hosts.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 7 p.m. DallasEagle.com.

………………..

Thursday 07.07

‘Beat’ of a different drum
Chicano beat poet Christopher Carmona signs copies of his new book Beat. He’s a staunch LGBT ally challenging notions of gender roles in his poetry. Sounds like a cool guy to us.

DEETS: Cliff Notes, 1222 W. Davis St. 7 p.m. Free. Facebook.com/OakCliffNotes.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

A different kind of ‘Band’ goes live

Today’s gay community may only know of The Boys in the Band as a landmark movie in the gay continuum, but the iconic piece was a stage play first. Mart Crowley’s play about a gathering of gay men to celebrate a friend’s birthday debuted 43 years ago on Broadway. Crowley followed up with the sequel The Men From the Boys, where the friends gather once again for a friend’s death.

For its inaugural season, QLive! shoots out of the gate with a staged reading of Crowley’s sequel. The QCinema spinoff touts live theater performances and for its first show, they probably couldn’t have picked a better start.

“Band has a long rich history in Fort Worth, having been staged in a gay discotheque in 1975 and again 25 years later at a church rehearsal hall,” artistic director Kyle Trentham says.
The production reunites the cast from the 2000 Fort Worth Theatre production of In the Band including Todd Camp, Robert Camina, Gary Payne, Lon Barrera, Brian Keith Rhodes and Keith Smith.

— Rich Lopez

Four Day Weekend Theater, 312 Houston St., Fort Worth. April 20. 8 p.m. $10. QCinema.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

Something to do tonight: See ‘Making the Boys’

QCinema continues its spring series tonight with a screening of the new documentary Making the Boys, which tracks the production of playwright Mart Crowley’s original 1969 off-Broadway production of the seminal gay play The Boys in the Band, as well as filmmaker William Friedkin’s 1970 movie adaptation.

The film screens at 8 p.m. at the Four Day Weekend Theater in Fort Worth. Tickets are $10.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

QLive! announces 2011 season

QCinema founder Todd Camp decided to branch outside the bounds of the small screen and into live performance. As part of its 2011 season, the film festival announces QLive!, which presents live theater in addition to film. Like Dallas’ Uptown Players, it will concentrate on gay-themed plays and shows of interest to the gay community. The season includes:

Dying City (March). The brother of a man killed in Iraq confronts his widowed sister-in-law, and suggests something else may have contributed to his death. Christopher Shinn’s mystery play was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Men from the Boys (April; staged reading). A sequel to Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band catches up with the characters years later.

Brian Gallivan: The Sassy Gay Friend LIVE! (June). The creator of viral videos about the “sassy gay friend” performs a live comedy show.

None of the Above (September). A comedy about the relationship between a 17-year-old and her SAT tutor.

Art (November). Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning drama about how an all-white painting divides three male friends.

Corpus Christi (December). Terrence McNally’s controversial play finally gets its Fort Worth performance.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones