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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



chicago whispers
by Sukie de la Croix

This article shared 2449 times since Wed Jan 31, 2001
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Talking to Rick Karlin, pt. 3 Bar-hopping ...

"The routine was that everybody would meet at the Bushes around 10:30, 11, you'd have a few cocktails, then head down to River North, and then if you didn't pick anybody up you'd come back up north and go to Cheeks or the Closet, the only late-night bars.

"The Closet, the line used to go around the block, and late at night it was very much a boy pick-up bar. It was always women bartenders. The thing was that if you couldn't get lucky at the Closet, then you just weren't trying. I mean, there were times when I walked in and said, 'You' and we walked out and went home. It was that simple."

Iron Butterfly ...

"I used to go to the Iron Butterfly. It was a quiet, neighborhood bar, and I remember the bar was covered in pin-up pictures, then heavily polyurethaned, and there were cigarette burns on the girls' nipples, and things like that. Two girls I knew at high school took me there, and that's how they told me they were lesbians, although I knew from the rumor mill. The funny thing was that one of the girls I went steady with and the other was my best gal pal in high school, and they ended up together."

Bubbles in Niles ...

"The Mayor didn't like having it there. It was in a big strip mall and there was a Greek open-all-night diner there, it was very bizarre. It didn't last very long at all. The funny thing was that Charlie's Angels, this other gay bar had been there forever. That was mostly men and a lot of really bad trannies. It's like 'If your'e going to do drag, be glamorous, or at least attractive, don't just plop on a wig and some lipstick and call it a day.'"

The Bearded Lady ...

"The Bearded Lady and I were in grad school together; not in the same department but in the same school. I remember there was a picture in the Tribune of some big graduation at the University of Illinois and his picture was there. I called friends and said, 'Get the Trib, is that the Bearded Lady there.' They said, 'Oh my god, yes!' Then I saw he was taking a class where I went to grad school. He was totally outrageous on stage, very strange. I remember him coming on with six or seven dresses on, and he would take layer after layer after layer off, and he always had a fan and he fanned himself. He had big false eyelashes, big red lips and a full beard, and I don't think he wore a wig, he just had long hair. He looked like Abbie Hoffman doing drag."

Horizons ...

"Teaching is my regular job, but I had always volunteered for them. I was in a very bad school and wanted to leave, and Horizons was looking for someone to do special events coordinating, which is something I've done for benefits all the time. They weren't willing to pay what I needed to live on, so I offered to do half time until they found somebody. That took about a year. So I was going to grad school and teaching full time, and working there half time, so I left. I still think it's a wonderful organization, and if I had more time I would do more for Horizons, but at this point I've had to take a step back. I'm too old to do a lot of this stuff."

The fire at Shari's ...

"Right after I came out, there was a bar called Shari's on Clark and Surf. This was right when they started doing the live remote reports on the news, and there was a fire at Shari's. So I'm watching the news one night, and the guy said, 'Channel 7 Eyewitness News is live at the scene of a fire at a North Side tavern, let's take it over to Chuck, who's there.' Then Chuck says, 'I'm here with one of the patrons who was in the bar at the time of the fire, can you tell me what happened sir?'

"Well, he obviously had not pre-interviewed this guy. This flaming queen said, 'Well, we were just sitting at the bar having a cocktail, when all of a sudden I screamed 'I smell smoke!' and I looked around and there was smoke pouring out of the basement, and I said 'Run for your lives, run for your lives.' He actually talked like this, and his hands were flying as he was telling the story. He's got a cigarette in his hand so it's going all over the place, 'So we all ran out the bar, we could have burned to death.'

"The newsman just stood there holding the microphone with his jaw open. When he was done, he just looked at the camera and said, 'Back to you.' They went straight to commercials because I'm sure everybody in the studio was on the floor laughing. They never said it was a gay bar, but then they didn't need to."

Memory check: Shari's ( 2901 N. Clark St. ) was open from 1972, until it burned down in early December 1980.

Bubbles Bistro was owned by Malcolm Silverman and he named it after his wife. On Oct. 31, 1985, police entered the bar and allegedly found two underage patrons. Doorman John Chambers and manager Scott Van Berschot were charged with allowing minors in a place where liquor was sold. At a hearing, the bar's liquor license was suspended, but an appeal was filed. On Nov. 8, 1985, police began turning away patrons at the door. The harassment of Bubbles was allegedly orchestrated by Niles Mayor Blase and the police, after the bar turned gay.

Charlie's Angels was in Des Plaines ( 8710 Golf Rd. ) . The bar opened in October, 1978, and in 1980 and was owned by Raul and Evelyn Esparza.

This article shared 2449 times since Wed Jan 31, 2001
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