Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Woodward - Detroit, Michigan (Gay Bar)

 


The Woodward Bar (Still open) is located at 6424 Woodward Ave in Detroit. It is the oldest continually open gay bar in Detroit. I have been there many times, it was kind of a dive place. They used to sell hamburgers. They had the same waitress for years as I remember. They had this funny statue of male form holding grapes over his mouth. It is now predominately a African American clientele. Also check out my other blog: motorgay.net


31 comments:

  1. A friend of mine told me that in the 60's when the vice came into the Woodward the bartender would pull the plug on the jukebox to alert the patrons!

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  2. This was my neighborhood bar in the late 70's when I was a student at Wayne Law School. Andy K, the Greek owner, was still around in those days. The burgers were always good (and inexpensive). The bar had a very cute young bartender at that time. I think there were two regular waitresses who were older. One was named June. They used to go around the bar asking the patrons "Anybody wanna . . ." And, of course, Andy was known for his famous line, "Tonight's the night, my dears!"

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  3. I so remember that saying "Tonight the night" LOL
    The bartender I can not remember his name but he was hot. I do remember he was in a car accident that nearly killed him but really messed him up. Andy had a benefit for him that I do remember to help raise money for the hospital bills.

    anyone remember his name?

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    1. Was that Jimmy Hardesty......very cute blond twink?

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  4. The bartender's name was Wendell; he also modelled clothes in Hudson's newspaper ads. This was the cruisiest bar Detroit ever had. Andy had big cast parties every time a new play hit town. His other favorite expression was "take home an ugly one tonight".

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  5. Boy, more swinging and drunken fun times at the Woodward than I can remember at any of the other places I would haunt. I was a regular there during the late 80s. Andy was the owner. A big greek man with white wavy hair and a stache. When you entered from the back, there was that fountain circular table with a statue of David eating grapes. Fridays and Saturday nights were swingers at Cafe Woo as it was called. It has a Heinz 57 cross section of the gay culture. Leather men lined up by the passage to go into the other side bar. They came to the Woodward early to kill some time before heading down the street to the Eagle. Regular queens and their groups (Anyone remember Miss Pease?) would park in the the booths across from the bar. Gussie and her 'girls' were patrons of the bar during those evenings. I think they belonged to a group called the Tradewinds. They were a group of straight men who liked to do drag. They were a hoot. Gussie even had her grandson's going away to the navy party at the Woodward. The crowd was so mixed. Mature guys and some couples at the bar, guys from Canada, some people going to the Opera (anyone remember Louise the Opera Lady of Detroit?) who would come to the Woodward dressed in full costume of a character from whatever show was playing. Andy would make them turn the music down so he could announce her. She'd come in fully dressed in say Elizabethan drag costume including powder wig and full makeup. She would bow as we all applauded. She was fabulous!! The older waitresses who worked there wearing house dresses were like mothers to us. No make up. Just like they had been vacuuming their living room and went right to work. Their names were Mary and June. All I can say about the place was it was just a BLAST. We drank a lot and everyone liked looking at the new boy toy bartenders Andy would hire. So many different types of guys, everyone happy and amused by each other. Many a night I was there, they were the best days of my young life. Here's the you Andy! If walls could talk, you'd have one hell of a story about your place!

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  6. Anonymous said...
    The bartender's name was Wendell; he also modelled clothes in Hudson's newspaper ads. ....I was wondering if that was a good friend of mine that just disappeared from the scene back then, does anyone remember(in case anonymous doesn't read this) if Wendell was light carmel skinned Black male, for some reason im thinkin this is the same person and i probably just dont remember him being a bartender at the woodward, .....

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    1. wendell was a white male and wore what at that time was a very expensive toupee!

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  7. I can remember going to woodward and Andy's "tonights the night" greeting every time walked in the place. I had may friends at Wayne State and Wayne state had a gay group that would often go there for burgers. Was kind of a "wrinkle room" attracting a older crowd.

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  8. THOSE WERE SOME GOOD AND HAPPY DAYS(SMILE)

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  9. Well, myself, other half and a female friend went to The Woodward to see "Diva" last night who we were told was a fabulous drag performer who we had to see. We really had no idea what kind of a bar The Woodward was besides being gay!! Not being from the area, but from Toronto we weren't sure what to expect. What we found was a place that was warm and welcoming!! After experiencing the cute greeter at the door, the 'WICKED' rum and coke (make sure you're not driving!!) that we had as our first round, warm hospitality and meeting friendly locals that we started speaking to....we know it is a safe place that we look forward to going to again when in town. Hopefully we will also get to see 'Diva' perform. I didn't get his name, but thank you to the greeter..you were a gem and thanks for the drinks...thanks to all the other staff...especially the bus boy who made my night with the compliments (you were wearing the red shirt...great smile)and we hope to see Randy and Al again (hope I have the names right!!)...great talking to you boys!!! You've got my mail!! Hugs to all and Happy Holidays!! If you haven't been..GO!! :)

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  10. Going to the Woodward is an excellent experience. I have been their plenty of times including this past Saturday. I had a blast.. The drinks are phenomenal( make sure your not driving ) and inexpensive. I love the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. If you have not been their yet. Make sure u go!!! I've never been to the Woodward on Christmas Eve. But really is looking toward to go. Price...$5 before 11:30... & $10 after... Happy Holidays! Looking toward to seeing u there. Smootches

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  11. who remembers the bartender that kept saying
    "hot number"...I had just came out and everytime I went in there that is what he would yell to the house...everyone would turn and look and I would have drinks all night...ahhhh to be that young again....well...58 isnt that bad

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  12. My God, do I remember the Woodward. It was either a starting place, or and ending place. Yep, Andy with 'Tonight's the night". In the early 80s I remember all the bartenders were young, and looked the same: Scottie, Bobby, etc. Unfortunately I also remember in the 70's how the Woodward was sexist with who they let in. A lesbian, for example, had to show two pieces of female clothing to enter.

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  13. In 75'some of us from Wayne State U were asked to escort a lady who was running for city council around to a few gay bars so she could ask for their votes. At the Woodward Bar she was given a microphone to speak to everyone. They were the best gay crowd she had ever spoken to and at the end the entire place gave her a standing ovation. That is what was so great about the Woodward. Class and distinction. The Ladies name was Marianne Mahaffey and she won by a landslide and to this day no one has ever come even close to her kind of integridy in Detroit Politics, just like the Woodward Bar....the Lady had Class!!!

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  14. wow--Gorgeous Gussie--"if you're not fussy, go with Gussie" August Riceman
    the Woodward was always a fun cruise bar and Andy & his brother always made everyone feel welcome "here's a pretty one!"

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  15. Wow. I am sorry I seemed to miss Detroit and the Woodward in it's hay day. Like so many of those making comments on here I am new Detroit but in my 50's. Where does everyone go now and where is someone my age welcome? Comments and suggestions appreciated...as long as they are nice! Thanks, signed: A California transplant new to Detroit.

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    1. The woodward ber is the place to be on sunday night it's old'ds but good'ds night that when you can go there.....

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  16. I visited the Woodward many times during the early to mid 1990's and remember the older female waitress (Betsy I believe) yelling out "anybody wanna...drink". They also had illegal video slot machines near the rear entrance and if you were winning and wanted to cash out, you had to push a small button on the back of the machine and a slip of paper woulud print out with your credits. You'd take that slip to the bartender and they would give you cash. There was never a cover charge and they always had steady business with the busiest times being the weekends or nights when people were going to the theatre.

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    1. betty was the mother in law of Bill [one of the owners/+Andy+Sam brothers] Mary was also there and June filled in sometimes

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  17. I GO TO THA WOODWARD NOW N I LOVE IT I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE I'M SURROUNDED BY FAMILY WEN I COME THRU

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  18. I love the music and the potent drinks!! Sunday's are my favorite nights because I love House Music and since I'm a heterosexual female it's better for me to go then because I can get a spot in the mirror :-) I love the Woodward!

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  19. I can remember the Woodward from the early 1960s. It was the most popular gay bar in Detroit at the time. (there weren't that many choices) I think the Woodward was smaller than it is now. The main waitress, Betty, made a fortune in tips.
    The place was so packed on weekends you could barely move and you could barely breathe from all the smoke. Andy would warn of a fire department raid and a bunch of people would have to leave and walk around the block for a while until the coast was clear.
    The Woodward was a regular restaurant and cocktail lounge during the day. Sometimes businessmen who worked in the New Center area would stop in with their wives at night. Andy would tell them "Sorry, it's stag night tonight" to the hilarity of the customers.

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    1. It was smaller...only 1/2 of what it is now. On busy nights it might be easier to go out the front door and walk around the block and go in the back door if you wanted to use the restroom. Also remember the ice in the trough urinal...

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  20. Her name was.......Bessie! Not Betty.

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  21. Too many bottoms and not enough tops there. So ppl there is a hot mess and one Dude smelled like ass and ppl were funky. Really. Bit great music love that I can smoke out side. Need to open upstairs up so its not so crowded on that dance floor to the back patio. Get some a/c on there. It be too hot. They have this really cute security guard. Yum yum

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  22. I was a regular at the Woodward in the late 1980's when I was living at a flat nearby...the infamous 'Ferry Street'. Whoo Boy....was there fun times had by all. After hours parties were legendary...Boyz n Booze n Everything else. Andy would have us all over to his house in Indian Village for 'poolside' in the summer and he treated us like family. Great memories of great times and a bunch of really great guys.

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  23. I only went to the Woodward once or twice, but I lived on Ferry street for years.

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  24. I live in London, England now, but was in Detroit in 1979 and 80, working for GM. I used to regularly go to the Woodward for lunch. Jojo was the waiter I remember - a black guy who had served in the USAF at one time. The owner, or manager was called Sam. I remember the statue and have two small copies in my study. I can see them as I type this. I was also given a tee shirt when I left Detroit with a picture of Sam on it wearing an apron and no much else, carrying a milk crate!

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  25. Sam was a beautiful human being and just a great and fun guy.

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