Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gagen's- Detroit, Michigan (Gay Bar)

Gagen's















Gagen's was before my time. I don't know from what years it was a gay bar? Help if you know. Also, interior photos if you have them. Gagen's was located just down the street from Menjo's on Mcnichols. It latter became the infamous Bookie's 870, a punk club. I did go there once in the 80's with a waitress I worked with at the Macus Sly Fox in Birmingham. She was into punk and hung out there. I found a posting on another blog which describes Gagen's: http://supergaydetroit.blogspot.com/2009/01/guest-blogger-backintheday.html

Also check out my other blog at: motorgay.net

Frank Gagen was a band leader and the original owner of the place. Below is a picture of some sheet music with his picture:

21 comments:

  1. Gagen's was originally a swanky supper club owned by society bandleader Frank Gagen, who also played at the original Cliff Bell's. I'm not sure when it became a gay bar, but that whole strip along 6 Mile was pretty gay by the early '70s. I know it still had a gay clientele and was still holding drag shows on some nights of the week when I started going to Bookie's for punk shows in '77. Some nights we'd get there and there would be a drag show going on instead of kids with guitars, which was always kind of fun and cool by us. In the early years of Bookie's there was still quite a bit of intermingling between the punk and gay crowds. I remember being invited into Menjo's and particularly The Cove (which I believe later became Glass House) by folks along 6 Mile. Menjo's dance floor could get pretty mixed some nights, with a small number of women coming by regularly.

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    1. I was one of those women!! When my girlfriends and I (all straight BTW) wanted to just dance, dance, dance without worrying about getting hit on we went to Menjo's. Personally I preferred Footlights. I'm a sucker for a piano bar.

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  2. This is a post I found on another website that also describes Gagen's:

    My parents went to Frank Gagan's Supper Club in the 30's and 40's and I was there every Friday and Saturday night in the 70's when it was simply known as Gagan's. I think some of the best bad drag ever offered came out of Gagan's. Tiffany Middlesex, Sally From the Alley, Betty Clark, Trisha Trash,....they really were marvelous. It was always fun watching the "curious suburbanites" come through with their spouses then see the husbands without their wives the next week. At some point, it became known as Bookies Club 870, Bookies, for short. That was really the height of wonderful old gay Detroit when Palmer Park and Six Mile, along with Hamilton's antique row was in full throttle. Gagan's, Bookies, whatever...was the best source for whatever type of drug you wanted in the 70's....for a good time with fun people, nothing beat it. Don's Beef and Ale became The Cove. The Cove functioned as a small restaurant and hugely popular after hours club for some years. I worked there for a year or so as an afterhours server...

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    1. Great info Chris. I might even remember you if I saw you. I remember all of those drag queens. One night Carole Channing was there to watch the drag show and I heard Bette Clark ripped off Jennifer Fox's wig. Bette could be nasty. She worked at the race track during the day. Tiffany Middlesex was great. I think she had a sex change.

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    2. I remember this place and yes Tiffany did have a sex change I remember when he was going through it. I was down there in the early 70's I remember a few drag queens like Chili Pepper. JJ North, Fat Jack. Just a few. We all used to go down there on weekends just for the shows.

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    3. Used to be a club called the Front Door or famous door??too at one time. I think the singer Suzi Quatro and her brother used to play down there before she got so famous. It was another show bar.

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    4. Wasn't there a Drag Queen called Bobbie Shenay that also worked the clubs there back in the 70's? He also had a sex change I believe.

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    6. I used to go down too those clubs back in the 70s too with my friends to watch the shows and dance. Even gave Suzi Quatro a ride home a couple of times. Was friends with JJ North (Bill) back then. Met a few show people here mention here also.

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  3. Never went to this bar when it was punk but I heard that Sting played there in the 70's. I did go when Boulevard Blanche bought the place and turned it into Pink Flamingos. They used to have a shoe "Foxx at Flamingos on Fridays" with, of course, Jennifer Foxx. She was smokin' back then, nobody could touch her!!

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  4. The Police played Bookies in November of 1978. I was there. Cover was $3.

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    1. I was there too. It was their first American tour before Roxanne hit the air waves a few months later. I was there one night when David Bowie came in. He was dating some guy in Detroit. I thought he was an impersonator but it was really him.

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    2. I was there too. With my first boyfriend Steve. I didn't even know who there were. It was before Roxanne/

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  5. I remember in the early 70's when Bookie Stewart bought Gagen's and turned it into a disco on Fridays and Saturdays, and had drag shows on Sundays. We used to go back and forth between Bookies and Menjos in those days when you could actually walk the width of the parking lot between the 2 bars and not get hassled.

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  6. It was a glam rock bar for a couple of years. Reportedly, David Bowie's favorite Detroit bar

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  7. I REMEMBER THE SHOWS ON SUNDAYS-THE STAGE WAS AT THE BACK OF THE BAR.

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  8. the gay academy awards were here....it was a wonderful time...I was MC one year and actually dressed as a man...

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  9. David Bowie was probably with Iggy Pop

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  10. In the mid to late 60's a magician friend by the name of Bob Downey played there. He would do a beautiful dove act that always drew a standing ovation. I remember it well because of a trick that went wrong. He would open the act by taking off a white glove and tossing it out over the audience where it appeared to change into a white dove and fly back to him. One night, as the act was starting his dove died. He took off his glove, and threw it out over the audience. The dove did a perfect arch, landing on a table and sliding off into a woman's lap to much screaming. That may have been the last time he played there but it certainly was the most memorable time..

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    1. I actually remember the magician. He sure didn't last long there. Customers came to eat great steaks, Caesar salads and enjoy the music. Nobody really wanted to see a two-bit hack magician. He really was horrible unfortunately.

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  11. I worked in the kitchen of Frank Gagens in 1962 and 63 after graduating from high school. Even after 50 years, I still have fond memories of the kitchen folks, the wait staff and members of the band. On my first visit to Detroit after Marine Corps boot camp, Mr. Gagen and the entire staff treated me like a king. Hopefully someone will read this and remember me at Gagens in 1962 and 1963. Jim Smith.....

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