Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Ten-Eleven Bar- Detroit, Michigan (Gay Bar)

The Ten-Eleven Bar (Now closed) was located at 1011 Farmer St in Detroit. All that I know about is that Bob Damron's 1968 guide books says "Rough Trade" If you know anything about this bar please post.


  1. They would rope of a block around the Ten-Eleven every Halloween and the drag queens would display themselves. One year 1967 the crowd attacked the queens and they had to run for their lifes. I was there and was lucky to get out without injuries. A motorist sawed the crowd chasing me and let me get in his car and drove me away from there and to the Barbary Coast Bar. It was terrible!

  2. The 1011, was Detoit's Old Guard leather bar that closed around 1970.

  3. I worked as a "go-go dancer" at the Club 1011 for about 18 months in 1968 and '69. (Detroit was rioting those summers; it was a scary city for awhile...) There were three dancers a night, each working five 20 minute "shows" atop a "stage" that was built across the top of a grand piano.

    On Sundays the club featured a very gay, very fat comic named "Chi Chi" (and his piano player) from about 7 to 9 p.m. Then we dancers took over.

    Each dancer selected their music from a collection kept by the bartenders (owners), usually about five songs. I danced primarily to MoTown stuff while wearing very little (but including prescription sunglasses to hide the fact that I was so blind I could have easily stepped off the piano/stage into the laps of those gathered 'round). I also wore fur vests, tiny animal-print briefs, long leather boots and never spoke to anyone. As my "mystique" grew, so did my income.

    The changing room was in the bar's basement; a door leading to it was very near the piano/stage. The basement was beyond shabby, beyond dirty. But lots of sex between dancers took place down there!

    Blessed with being considered "very well hung," I was quite an exhibitionist, reliably flashing what they came to see every night. On Friday and Saturday nights, they often covered the little window in the front door with a bar towel (a signal?) and stayed open past the usual 2:00 a.m. closing time. Starting at about 1:30 a.m., the dancers were "allowed" (encouraged by one and all) to dance totally nude, which I eagerly did. The money flowed!

    I saved up enough in 18 months to buy two restaurants and a head shop. Then I went in to gay publishing, which I stayed in for 40 interesting years.

    I have GREAT memories of the Club 1011, of my "coming out" years in Detroit from 1964 to 1974, of my friend and mentor Bookie (owner of the Diplomat and, later, the original Menjo's), of the Woodward Ave./Six Mile Rd. (McNichols to those who are not natives) porn bookstore, and all the friends made and lost.

    I last visited Detroit in 2008 to visit an elderly aunt in Livonia. It was my first visit since I left in 1974. Detroit made me weep in sorrow. Highland Park looked bombed out, we saw wild animals (including quail!) flitting about furtively within a mile of downtown's Grand Circus Park! The city reminded me of some awful "Mad Max" movie gone terribly awry. Driving a rented Cadillac through the wreckage of what used to be housing, with unsmiling residents pausing to stare, made me feel very uncomfortable. I won't be going back anytime soon.

    But to be in Detroit during its MoTown years, with Sarah Vaughn at the Fox Theater, CKLW in Windsor, Ontario (just across the Detroit River) blasting rock and roll back at us, Bel Isle a lovely picnic destination, and mighty GM and Ford ruling it all, was a wonderful time. Goodbye to all that.

    I live in Austin, Texas now, with my legally-wed (in California) spouse of 26 years. We're getting quite old but we're happy. It's been a life!

    1. I hope you can see this, I to grew up here in Detroit during those gay hey day's of the 60's, and frequently stood outside the Ten Eleven bar at night and met many out of towners who were out to play, Well you should see Detroit now we have a new Mayor who is really shaking up this town and making great things happen, downtown has a 90% occupancy and mid town is growing by the day the festivities during the summer bring thousands back downtown to the resturants and theatres, we have a ways to go yet but things are happening and its all good.....

  4. Too bad you feel that as a still lifelong resident of Detroit I will never give up on this city,and I to grew up gay at 12 running around downtown hanging out at H&N's on the corner and becoming the 1011's youngest title holder at 15 I can still remember the cars were bumper to bumper around the block on weekends and then running away at 14 and being put up at the Mitchell hotel arcoss the street from the La Rosa bar by one of my many married sugar daddies, Oh yes I remember how it was and 16 living at the Lafayette Towers with a guy I was madly in love with, then GM transferred him to Arlington texas his initials are FJ..........................

  5. Chi-Chi who played a wonderful piano and could put a champagne glass in his mouth without breaking it were his trademarks he was quick witted and jolly and used to remark about the decor (wallpaper) as looking like a french whore's bedroom (It was red and black flock)in a french motif and the wrought iron stairway led to a balcony at the back of the bar ,but the best feature of the bar itself was the carved back bar with two nude lifesize handcarved women holding up the bar on each end,HMMM I wonder what ever happened to them?

  6. Wait a minute I know who you are I was there also on halloween that night the crowd attacked us but it wasn't 1967 it was 1966 and some queens were chased up Woodward Ave and me and my escort were trapped in an undercover police car which the crowd tried to tip over until i opened the glovebox and there was a police radio inside so I called for backup?

  7. I remember Chi-Chi "any ice today ladies" and "hot nuts, get 'em from the peanut man" and also Don Evans on the piano and singing. Do you remember Peter the waiter with the elephant tattoo?

  8. How about Salley from the Alley you know she really was the sweetest thing she got her name from being in the alley behind the 1011 and giving (well you know to strangers who were willing) and she would do drag from time to time with all her clothes wig and anything else she could shove into her brown paper bag sometimes she would even get in drag and solicit people behind the 1011, she was a hoot .

  9. By the way I was the youngest title holder at the 1011 at 16 and won a trip to Florida but when the owners found out i was that young they gave the trip to the second runner up but i still would never get my face or chest pumped up with silicone, I did drag in the truest art form as it should be done a man creating an illusion of a woman.

    And if you saw me today you would never know that i did drag and that is what makes a great drag queen.

  10. Jimmy A-Go-Go where are you he was one of the dancers at the 1011 and was quite popular I know your still here in Michigan.

  11. I was a male stripper during the last year they where open. The bar where my friends. I am Farmer Street Dale as thay called me. Anybody email me at 2hamitup@frontier.com

  12. I went to the 1011 once in 1963 when I was 22. There was quite a mix of people, both black and white.
    The bar had a bad reputation in the 1950s and 1960s for being full of young under-cover cops who would bust any gay man who was accused of making a pass at the cop(s).
    In the mid 1950s there was an article in the Detroit Free Press telling how Johnny Ray, a well known singer in the early to mid-1950s, had been busted there by an under-cover cop.

  13. I was down there every day after 4 pm and used to lean against the wall by the 1011 and met many men some men would honk there car horn and signal me to get in as i walked around the block take me to a motel as most we're from out of town then bring me back.

    Oh I was (only 12) when. I started hanging out downtown in 1962.......

  14. Oh I have some pictures of the 1011and the monroe block taken in 1965 and 1966.....the 1011 was a mix of leather and lace with red frocked wall paper the bar was on the right with a gorgeous hand carved back bar with two full size nude women on each end holding up a hand carved canopy, in the center were steps to a balcony with a wrought iron railing and the rest rooms were at the back by the back door which lead to a very dark parking lot.

    Which was used quite often for......uhemmm!

  15. To anonymous from Nov. 25, 2013. Do any of your photos also capture the old Hub Grill across from the 1011 at Farmer & Bates? Would be interested in copies of the 1011 photos. Hung out at the Hub with Fran, Flo & Uncle Jimmy in the early to mid-50s. atlascom1@earthlink.net