“Don’t Flush for Piss:” The Sleaze Factor
You know what’s disappearing big time in today’s scene? The Sleaze Factor. Today, too many bars are interior designer sparkling, like they were the “after” of some Bravo house make-over show. Christ, you can even smell the fresh coat of Sherman Williams. One famous leather bar in a minor league metropolis once oozed with the S Factor but lost it recently to a mutilating, emasculating redo, and now sports perfectly purple walls and nicely stained railings straight out of Home Depot.
No, no, no! I want the smell of piss to savor, cheap yellow lights to leer under, peeling black paint to smudge against my torn T-shirt, scraped, crumbling concrete under my boots, pool tables stained by Bud Lites, pre-cum and sweat.
And though only a few bars dared to sport them, backroom dark corners where shadows sucked and fucked in porn brazen brilliance.
I want the real raw deal, the kind of dark, dank atmosphere that made your dick quiver even before your first grope of the night.
There was a sign stenciled in white on the black wall of the tight, SRO-style john at one of NYC’s sleaziest West Village bars, the Spike. “Don’t Flush for Piss.” That sign said it all.
True, you can still find the S Factor at Lauderdale’s Ramrod leather bar and the Slammers sex club (though the S there is more a re-creation like the Wild Wild West in Disneyworld) and echoes of the glory days at Philly’s Bike Stop, D.C’s Eagle, and Christopher Street’s Ty’s. But for real authentic sleaze you’d have to take a time machine back to New York City’s West Village Sleaze Alley threesome, the Spike, the Eagle and the Lure.
For anybody in the leather/levi scene of decades past and living in New York, visiting these bars on a Friday and Saturday night was a given. You wouldn’t just visit one of them even if essentially the same guys frequented all three. You’d have your early evening beer at the Rawhide in Chelsea (for those of us who came in from the ‘burbs parking in the West 20’s was saner). But by 11ish you were trotting your levied ass (or bare one if you were wearing chaps under your trench) down to West Street. The streets were dimly lit and kinda scary to be honest, but you didn’t care. You were butch (with no shirt under your leather jacket on a 10 degree NYC January night so your tits were all perky for your grand unveiling in the bar) and about to enter Manhattan’s Butch Zone. The S bars were all within reasonable walking distance of one another, so making the circuit was easy even with the wind blowing in your face.
And when you’re Saturday night horny, four or five blocks in sub-zero weather means nothing.
Wednesday: The Sleaze Factor and what separated the places of yesteryear from today’s S wanna-be’s.