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Gay History: Chicago Whispers
by Sukie de la Croix
2003-07-30

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This is the last part in a series of four about obscure gay bars in Chicago. If you know anything about these bars please contact me.

The Spice Tree at 2811 N. Central opened its doors Oct. 27, 1982. If you'd gone there on March 5, 1983 you would have seen the 'Spice Tree Revue' starring Patricia De Roma, Tata, Peaches, Lady B., and some surprise guests. All drinks were 50. The show was 8-10 p.m. and a cold buffet was served.

The Stardust Ballroom at 35 W. Galena, Aurora, was listed as being gay in 1983, although no one seems to know anything about the place.

In May, 1976, a new bar opened at 61 W. Hubbard. It was called Stars and it opened nightly at 8 p.m. but was closed on Mondays.

Studio 69 at 3474 N. Clark St. opened in 1980 and was described as 'Comfortable, Cozy and Cruisy.' In 1986, Zo-ran was a piano bar at the same location and featured La Faye Elliot at the piano on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Suds Club at 7301 W. Forest Preserve Drive was listed as gay in 1983. Also Sweets at 3477 N. Clark St. in 1985, Teddie's at 3160 N. Clark in 1986 and Teddy's Lounge at 3720 N. Clark in 1976.

In 1980, before Sweets, another gay bar was at the same location called the Little Hercules Lounge. Now it's the Exedus II Lounge. The Annex 3 is now located where Teddie's was at 3160 N. Clark. Teddy's Lounge in 1976 was later the location of lesbian bar the Swan Club.

In the Chicago Gay Directory 1974-1975: Fourth Edition, Tenement Square at 247 E. Ontario St. is described as semi-gay.

T.J.'s at 46 E. Oak St. existed in the mid-late '80s. Charlie Oliver was a popular bartender there and Jerry Goudy was the manager. In late-'88 Bob and Harriet Goodman became the new owners of TJ's. On Aug. 28, 1986 they hosted a bare-chested party, and May 1 of the same year a 'Strike Against AIDS' raffle party.

The Tropic Zone at 5220 N. Sheridan was around in 1986, a couple of doors down from where Chuck Renslow's bar Sparrows was back in the early '70s.

The Grand Opening of U-Bahn at 3406 N. Sheffield was advertised as May 10, 1989. Does anyone know if it really opened …

The late-'80s bar Union at 3101 N. Sheffield was notable for its BVD (Being Very Decadent) Sundays with dancers, the Rockets. Water Works at 933 N. State St. (mid-'80s), Water Tower Inn at 800 N. Michigan (1972), Wee Dee's at 2101 S. Fairfield Ave., (1972- '73), Welcome at 22 E. Chestnut (1974), White Elephant Bath Lounge at 144 W. Hubbard (1976) and What's Up at 65 W. Illinois St. (1985) were all listed as gay bars.

An ad in GayLife reads: 'Arnie and Associates invite you to see for yourself 'Where the boys are' Friday, Oct. 12, 1979. Come sweat the night away in Chicago's only private late-hour, fantasy danceland, 955 W. Fulton Mkt. Time 11:01 p.m. to 7:01 a.m. Punking the box Gene White & Michael Ezebukwu plus the hottest trade in the city. ... ' Anybody know anything about Where the boys are?

I've never met anyone who went to Ye Old Mill Lounge at 3407 N. Paulina, which is surprising given its popularity at the time. It opened in January 1976, and installed a regular show by the Playgirls, who were Pearl Diamond and Laura Merrill, with guest artists every week. On July 2 and 3, 1976, one of the guests was Tillie (The Dirty Old Lady).

In the March 5, 1976 issue of Chicago GayLife, Rhonda wrote in her Round 'n' Round column: 'Hearts and fairies ... Valentine's weekend was certainly something else. All the parties were great, but one has to be singled out as spectacular. And that, of course, was the glorious red, white and pink cloud atmosphere created by Donn Abbinanti for Ye Old Mill. The sweet table was loaded with red and white goodies, including some erotic cookies that melted in your mouth.' Sadly, by November 1976, the bar went straight.

Next week I'll be answering some questions an anonymous caller asked me about certain Chicago gay bars in the '40s. If the caller would call back and leave a number I would love to interview him.

If you have memories to share, contact Sukie de la Croix at Windy City Times. You can leave a message on his voicemail at 773- 871-7610. He collects memories and interviews over the phone, in person, or via e-mail sukiedelacroix@ozhasspoken.com


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