Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tiffany's Bar - Detroit, Michigan (Gay bar)

Tiffany's (Now closed) was located at 17436 Woodward Ave in Detroit, just north of McNichols. I'm not sure for what years it was open. I went to Tiffany's in the 80's. Back then it was a small cramped, long narrow bar. It used to get packed on Thursday nights before everyone went to Menjo's. They had cheap pitches of beer on Thursdays. It got so packed that you had to rub up against everyone! I guess for a gay bar that is not a bad thing. When some song came on that everyone liked they had this large iron bell mounted up high that the bartender would ring. It was a fun place. Please post your stories of Tiffany's and any pictures. You can email them to me.

29 comments:

  1. Sundays was the day to be out - because you'd go to the Menjos Tea Dance first. Then you'd go to Woodward to Pauls place (Backstage & Footlights) then walk to Tiffanys after eating & Drinking... this is b4 he sold to the afterhours guy Tom.Then you would go back to Menjos..It was a vicious but oh so fun cycle based on supply and demand. Tiffanys was the leather and prep playground where everyone got along,it was cool. nice aroma on the patio too.

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  2. We used to go to Tiffany's after the gay bowling league on Sunday morning. We called it "Breakfast at Tiffany's"! It was a long and narrow bar and it was fun to squeeze your way through to the back door, then return to the front door to do it again...! I remember seeing a hot man get sucked off while he sat on the bar! "Gentlemen! During the next song and the next song only: if you can prove you're not wearing underwear, your next drink is free!" This is typical of what the bartenders would say over the loudspeaker after ringing the drink bell!

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    1. And every so often they would turn off all the lights for a minute or so. Lot's of fun when that happened.

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    2. The bell ringing specials! We would do every special no matter what it was and be a mess by the end of the night. After it expanded it was never the same. I loved the wall to wall of the 1980’s early 80’s. Great music too.

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  3. I so remember the drink Bell, got my fill of cheep drinks from that bell at the age of 18 and the first gay bar in Detroit I went to under age of course but in those days Chicken was a hot thing got you in everywhere :-) . Oh can not forget about the dark backroom I never visited.

    Anyone remember having to ring the door bell to get in with the 2way glass door LOL

    I remember once taking my friend there and we where out back it started to pour rain he grabbed the table umbrella and bolted for the door I still laugh with him about it, picture it running with a huge table umbrella. I think that was mid late 90's when they had a patio

    Such good times, oh how I miss it.


    Anyone remember Tumble Weed the door guy is he still around, he was so funny and great to get along with.

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    1. Not sure if it was the same back room, but in the early 80’s there was a phone booth heading towards the bathroom, that the wall of the phone booth pushed open and it was a narrow little room with 2 way glass so you could see the crowd. I fucked my husband in there while people were banging on the wall to get in.

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  4. Stephen Gnass opened the bar sometime as early as late 1973 to early 1974 and it was an immediate hit. He expanded by opening his second bar in Atlanta in early 1975 making back its investment in just several months. The Atlanta bar was called "Stephens Saloon" and was a mega-hit from day one; something totally different than the other bars. The local "blue laws" were just about to change allowing Sunday sales and Stephen's introduction of the Sunday Noon $1 brunch and then "Crazy Days" beginning an hour later with ongoing drink specials kept the place packed until well after midnight. The place was the most "up" and festive bar of the day and they owned Sundays for years to come. It was just amazing and the overall quality of the place beat most of the other bars hands down. Tom Giuseppe (who would in the 80's/90's own/operate Backstreet on Joy Road) was living in Atlanta at the time and became Stephen's business partner in the venture, overseeing the Atlanta operation and eventually he moved back to Detroit sometime in late 1976 to early 1977 and oversaw the Detroit bar as well. About the same time they opened 5-West Bar & Disco, a second venture in Detroit located 5 West 7-Mile Road at John R with great success. This bar was run by another Atlantan, Harry Rocap and his right-hand, Lamar Prather who had run Backstreet in Atlanta. Rocap and would eventually return to Atlanta to run the famous Limelight Nightclub and Disco and after that he ran Petrus (also in Atlanta) owned by the same people that owned Limelight. I worked at both Stephens Saloon in Atlanta and Tiffany's in Detroit, both part-time during breaks from my airline job in Atlanta. I bartended at Tiffany's during August thru October, 1977 and had a ball. Both the Detroit and the Atlanta location had a very similar look and feel though the Atlanta bar was more than twice the size of the Detroit location, had a full kitchen and lots of parking behind the place, plus it backed up to a very nice and safe neighborhood. The Atlanta bar was even open for lunch and did great business with the local office building workers that were located all around the bar. Stephen eventually sold the Atlanta location around 1980 or so and it was never the same thereafter and later closed. He sold the Detroit bar sometime thereafter and it did well after his departure though I recall it changing hands possibly several times thereafter and like lots of Detroit's old-guard bars, it eventually closed but not after a long and successful run always being way-ahead-of-its-time.

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    1. ..Stephen was a bartender at the Woodward?
      late 60's?
      good looking guy w/ a-bit of a attitude?
      made a lot of money... smart dude!
      He told me two barns were torn down to make Tiffany's rustic...very clever and of course the name came from the movie..
      He was bragging one night to me..'money talks...shit walks'

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  5. I met my current partner at Tiffany's back in February, 1981 on a Sunday afternoon. Back then, Sunday's were also referred to as "Crazy Daize". The Detroit gay scene was still centered in Palmer Park - our version of the "West Village" in NYC. After meeting, we decided to go next door to Backstage (Peter Mel's restaurant) to have a coffee and talk, as it was too noisy at Tiffany's. We set up a "next date" and here it is, almost 29 years later, and we are still together - we actually got married in Provincetown, MA. the summer of 2005. Boy have times changed! The hair may be a bit greyer now, but the memories are just as fresh as they were 29 years ago!

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    1. ...good for you...I met a wonderful guy there(Tiffany's) in early 1975....we had some great times...by summer he had moved on...but that is OK now...I cried, but am all grown up now
      am a healthy 66 living in San Diego (30+years)....but never forgot Marty....thanks...!

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  6. Another sorely-missed place that is no longer with us. Sundays belonged to Tiffany's...it was an incredibly great party place. You could almost be certain of hooking up with some hot guy before the evening was over. Thursday nights were good, too. It's hard to imagine that the internet has replaced these fun hot spots...another testament to the anti-socializing of people in the new millenium. Sad.

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  7. Loved this bar. I used to meet so many men there. It was a denim bar with a country western design motif but the DJ played all the current music. I remember that there was a giant mirror on one of the walls & always dismissed it as something for gay boy vanity. I had been going to that bar for ages when one night I noticed that guys would walk into this phone booth at the back of the mirrored wall & then they'ed never come out. I was curious so I went into the booth & saw a lever that opened the wall & behind it was a hidden room (I'll let you guess at what the boys were up to in there). =) That mirror I mentioned was. oddly enough, a 2 way mirror. Well, I was later told that Tiffiany's was a speakeasy back in prohibition & the secret room was where patrons would disappear during police raids.

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  8. Tiffany's fondly remembered... I too remember going in there all dressed to kill in my favourite disco clothes and big Cher wig with my faux leather vest and standing 6'6", not far from the ceiling-- everyone noticed me! It was fabulous. They had telephone poles all over the room for ambience and sawdust on the floor and peanut shells all over the place. On Sunday mornings, (AFTER Saturday nights, when nearly everyone who ever went in there scored with SOMEONE) they had the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" playing and they served a champagne breakfast to all for free if I'm not mistaken with like strawberry pancakes and pink champagne. This was in 1976 the bicentennial year I guess. DON'T YOU EVER FORGET THE MATCHES!! Their smoker's matches they passed out had a Tiffany lamp on the cover and on the bottom crease it said "12 inch weenies and hot buns". !! Who wouldn't love such a place?? Plus it was located right in front of where all the gay Detroit prostitutes used to stand out front on the traffic island selling their wares and getting into cars with dates. It was always open door in front and back and everyone crawled in there but it was safe. The last time I went into the bar, they had the buzzer front door and the entire area seemed very criminal. But in the old days, it WAS the place for anyone who was anyone to go to for brunch or drinks or just "whatever".

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  9. At Tiffany's you could be "just who you are." No pretentions or games. I started spinning records at the Gas Station in 76'. Worked at Club Fever (After Hours at 6 & Woodward), Interchange (Leather), The Woodward, 5 West, The Underground & a few that left something to be desired. Too many clubs in Detroit had fools for owners. Tiffany's started off with one but that ended when Ron Hall took over. He loved seeing people having a good time. As long as they were smiling he left them in the "crews" hands. And what a crew Tiffany's had! The door person/cook was "Tumbleweed", built to match his name & a real sweatheart! Bartenders came and went but it always seemed that each one left his mark on the place. Kenneth was the sweetheart, Bob Bantle was one of the many hotties with a heart of gold & a baseball bat in his jeans. There was a construction worker (really!) named Bucko (another sweetheart) and a fun assitant manager named Stoney that was the life of the place in the final years of it's heyday. I always favored Tiffany's on nights that I was not spinning records elsewhere. You could always have the best time. Everyone was a friend to everyone. And they REALLY liked to PARTY ! One day my manager at Off Broadway East (a real tyrant) didn't think I played his record fast enough (she loved to snap those fingers) and let me go. I thought since I LOVED Tiffany's and lived half a block away from the back door (everybody's favorite entrance there, I would talk Ronnie into giving me a job there. They had never had a D.J. The bartenders would play cassettes behing the bar that off duty D.J.s like me would bring in to donate. They let me bring in a couple turntables and my speakers on a Thursday night to see how it played out. I was in a tight room full of hot sweaty bodies looking for one thing (not a manicure). I played every song with the word SEX in it. From Funkytown to Berlin. It was like pouring gasoline on a campfire in the darkest forest. There was no stopping the animals in the frenzy that night....the joint was out of control. It was a hardcore MANHUNT with a built in soundtrack. The rest was History. Thanks to Ron Hall's faith and trust in his crew, Tiffany's final Triumphant Era was a magnificent part of Detroit's Nightclub History! Just like the freedom guests were accorded while partying there, the music had it's own type of freedom. The 1st club anywhere that was finally allowed to play every type of music from Billie Holiday to The Ramones! Every night was an unstoppable mix that included Disco, Funk, Motown, Philly, Blues, Reggae, Electronic Dance, Tripping Synthesizer, Euro, Ska, Punk, Jazz, Salsa & Carribean, Country, Bluegrass , Rock, Showtunes and Opera. There were nights that took you 15 minutes to squeeze a mere 15 feet through the hard pressed manflesh that forced it's way thru the front door just to be at Tiffany's for another night of horny hunting and hardcore partying! The Era went on for more than 5 years, unrelenting, until (months after) the Backstage Restaurant burned to the ground and as the bar was about to be sold, the new owner (Bambi) traded heated words with me and I was fired. Between The Lines newsmagazine ran a two page cover story two weeks later: Where did all the People Go? It only took two weeks for Tiffany's to go from a Party Palace to 3 people sitting at the bar on a friday night. Was it the music that was now gone? Was it the effect of the loss of the great Backstage Restaurant? Was it both? Nobody that was there will ever forget how great that Era was or how much "Tiffany's On The Park" meant to all of it's patrons. It is sad to drive by on Woodward Avenue and see that the building is now an Adult Porn House ironically owned and operated by that same person (Bambi) who ended an Era with just two words. You're Fired. C'est La Vie. D.J. Larry Bohannon

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    1. I remember toy. You were always funny and beret objected when I would request " Starlove" or "Baby this time". Remember the upsidedown Christmas Tree tradition? Wow, great times.

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    2. I went to Steven's then to Tiffany's for years and always enjoyed partying with Larry, Tumbleweed, Dale(Bucko) and a huge group of other friends. Larry, do you remember the time I brought in Janis Joplin's 'Kozmic Blues' album and asked you to play "Try (just a little bit harder)"?? You liked the song and refused to give me the album back and told me it was time I bought the CD anyway. :) I always loved your music and the place and the people. I rarely go to a gay bar any longer but what I wouldn't give to drop in at Tiffany's one more time and see a few of those people who are now gone or have moved away. What a great place Tiffany's was.

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    3. Earl, Facebook me: Larry Bohannon/Detroit

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    4. You forgot George, the Doorman. What a place that was. That's the bar I came out in. I hung out there from 89 - 94 I moved to AZ. just shortly before George died. George and I hung together alot and after 2 a.m. we would either stay there and party after hours or find somewhere else to party. Like the night a bunch of us went to the Detroit Eagle for an after hours party. What bash! I still can't look at a pool table without recalling THAT Night. Tiffany's was always my favorite pick-up spot. MEN went there, not the wannabe starlets. Sunday night ritual was start at Tiffany's @ 10, then to Menjo's about 11:30 then back to Tiff's for last call.Bobby was Great! He would see me at the door and have my drink sitting at the end of the bar. That was the only place I've ever seen, that we actually sat ON the bar. Best view of the action! Do you remember Fozzie? He was one of my favorite regulars. I sure do miss those days.

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    5. if the new owner referred to (Bambi) is the same shitty businessman as the guy called Bambi up in Saginaw (owned one of the two gay bars up there, first called Duchess, renamed Tallulah's), it's no wonder Tiffany's went belly up. Worst business sense i've ever run across. most of his profit went up his nose. He looked like a dumpy version of Louis Anderson (the comedian) and always had a huge brandy snifter in his hand.

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  10. I remember Stephen's Saloon in Atlanta. I was stationed in Augusta in 1977-1979 and would drive to Atlanta every other weekend and would always go to Crazy Days on Sunday afternoon.

    Good times, HOT men, great drink specials.

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  11. I lived in Palmer Park (1980??), and went to Steven's (Tiffany's) on Sundays. It was packed with men. You had to squeeze yourself through to the bar to buy god awful beer. The bartender would call attention to sexual activity ("Hey guys, two guys are fucking in the corner...") It was fun in the day. I would eventually squeeze myself out to go somewhere else with better beer.

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  12. Tumble's (Tumble Weed) was a fixture at Tiffany's. Mostly the doorman, also the cook and sometimes bartender. He passed away of colon cancer in late May of 2006. He was a great friend and is still missed by many.

    tony

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  13. I got rolled in the bathroom there in a drunken stupor!!!

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  14. anyone remember the 'Manor' bar in Gross Pointe?
    A piano bar older guy playing..owned by an old lady that seemed clueless..i went there in 1969..and was later introduced to the 'Bitter Lemon' & the Woodward'..oh yeah.!

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  15. I used to LOVE this bar on Sundays. I started going there sometime in the late 80s before they had bumped out the bar to widen it into the building adjacent to it. I remember the trough in the bathroom and saw some friskiness on more than one occasion there. What a shame it's gone.

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  16. This is where Carl Rippberger worked as a bartender in 1972 before he was unjustly fired by the owner Stephen, based on a malicious lie that fellow Tiffany's bartender Joe LaRosa told the owner. Carl then went on to open Backstreet. He became very successful and wealthy before he died of AIDS in the mid 90s. I wasn't crazy about Tiffany's, but Carl was my first male lover; I lived with him for two years in the early 70s.

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  17. We use to drive in from Michigan State Univ on Sundays for drinks, good times and trivia vocabulary. In return for a correct guess you get your next cocktail(s) free or discounted to about nothing. Love the atmosphere,people,music and that phone booth in the back with the secret entryway to the "room" LOL ..... those were the days .... 80's to be more exact ... a BIG shout out to my great friends Nick C. and Bill M. aka Wilma

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  18. I remember Tiffany's Fondly. It was the very first gay bar I was ever in (1973) and where I first got picked up. I loved Sunday's brunch which started at 12 followed by Crazy days @ 2:00. Who remembers ..."during the next song ... shots of Uzo (sp) 4 for a dollar." Always friendly and you could always find company.

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  19. I entered and won a hot buns contest at Tiffany’s in the early 80’s. It must have been around Christmas because I remember my picture being in the local rag laying over Santa’s lap as he spanked me. Some older guy kept buying me and my partner every shot special. We got soooooooo sick. Puked in the parking lot behind the bar that night.

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