Gay Glasgow

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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Twizzle » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:22 am

"Betty Hutton" was called Bobby, and when he was "offstage" (out of drag, and sober) he was quiet and great company. He was also an accomplished linguist, and allegedly could speak at least seven fluently (although this gave rise to the story that he couldn't say "no" an any of them.

Yes he had a younger partner who he called "the wean", and they say he was faithful, and that the relation lasted several years. There was a crayon portrait of him at one time hanging in the Waterloo Bar, prompting me to ask if he had passed away. I was told he had "retired" from the scene.

There is a legend that he was arrested by the police in drag while promenading in Queens Park, and was obliged to appear in court. The Sheriff asked for his name.

"Betty" came the reply.

"No, that won't do", replied the Sheriff. "What is your real name?"

"Betty HUTTON!" responded our heroine.......

"No no" continued the exasperated official - you must give me your real and proper name or you will be in danger of perjuring yourself"......

"Oh very well then" puffing up to her full height "ELIZABETH HUTTON!"

There followed a reading out of the charges, causing a breach of the peace etc etc at which point the bold Betty interjected........

"From where I'm standing, I'm not the only one here strutting around in a wig and a gown - what's your excuse....?"

It is not recorder what the final outcome was, but Betty continued to amuse her public for many years in her own inimitable way.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Twizzle » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:44 am

JumpingAtTheWoodside wrote:Fantastic stuff, Raddled Old Queen!

I was told a story by an older friend of mine about a gay party he attended in the 60's in my street. All the guests were in drag, and the neighbours must have been quite alarmed at the sight of all these improbably large women entering the close, because the police were called.

Sure enough, the police raided the party. As the guests were being loaded into a Black Maria, one unfortunate police officer had to check their identities-

"Name?"

"Sandie Shaw!"

"Get In."

"Name?"

"Lulu!"

"Get in."


The Clayson Report liberalised Glasgow's licence laws in the mid 1970s, but until then all bars closed their doors at around 10 00. As there were no gay discos then, most people (you could fit most of the gay scene comfortably in one end of the Duke of Wellington bar at that time) would get invited back to someone's house for a party. One well known and hospitable regular who always held "open house" in his flat in Novar Drive, Hyndland, was surprised to hear his neighbour's reaction to the constant stream of queens regularly climbing the stairs.

"I think he belongs to a rugby club somewhere......"

Well it was still a fairly innocent time in Glasgow's social history.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Twizzle » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:51 am

Speaking of our bold boys in blue, a group of four of us partygoers were driving en route to the aforementioned venue in Novar Drive, and while descending Highborough Road, two beat officers were spotted making their rounds. My companion urged the driver to slow down, and, winding down the window, shouted "I simply can't stand affairs that dress the same!"

We drove off rather sharply into the night.

JumpingAtTheWoodside wrote:Fantastic stuff, Raddled Old Queen!

I was told a story by an older friend of mine about a gay party he attended in the 60's in my street. All the guests were in drag, and the neighbours must have been quite alarmed at the sight of all these improbably large women entering the close, because the police were called.

Sure enough, the police raided the party. As the guests were being loaded into a Black Maria, one unfortunate police officer had to check their identities-

"Name?"

"Sandie Shaw!"

"Get In."

"Name?"

"Lulu!"

"Get in."
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Twizzle » Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:27 am

My first venture into a gay bar was in Blackpool, where Lucy's Bar was a real eye-opener - gay people really dressed differently in those days, making a bold lifestyle and fashion statement, and still used remnants of the coded language "polari" devised amongst gays and theatricals persecuted in an age when jail sentences were a threat.

I asked where I should go when I returned to Glasgow and was told the Corn Exchange, opposite Central Station. On entering, I was disappointed: - no flowing purple, flared trousers, loose shirts, enormous collars, bouffoned, coiffured hair like Lucy's. Men stood around, dressed in buff raincoats looking like refugees from the football terraces. Glasgow men didn't dress well then.

Then someone who I came to know as "Frank" came over to me and said "I think you're in the wrong bar dear - go down to Argyle Street to the Duke of Wellington. That's where you'll be more comfortable". I didn't even finish my drink. With my heart in my mouth, I rushed down and walked straight in. He was right. The Duke was about quarter-full, and had the same "theatrical" feel about it as Lucy's, with people dressed colourfully, and spoke using wide gestures.

I assumed most had their own cars, as in Glasgow at that time, I couldn't see them travelling into town in a bus or train dressed the way they were.

However I really landed on my feet - after ordering a drink, I sat down at one of the tables, where three others were sitting. I sat facing out into the crowd, mesmerised at the fact that, here in Glasgow there actually existed a safe haven for my kind of people. I was half-listening to the conversation behind me. Someone was describing how he taken the train to school and mentioned the station - Pollokshields East.

I thought "I used to take the train to school at Pollokshields east" and curiously I turned round, just as he turned and our eyes met. It was a guy who I had been to school with and who I knew, but hadn't seen for a while. We greeted each other by name, and he introduced me to his partner, and their friend. What luck. From that point on, I had an introduction to the gay scene in Glasgow.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Twizzle » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:31 am

JumpingAtTheWoodside wrote:Does anyone have any reminiscences/ horror stories about gay venues in Glasgow over the years? I'm gay and used to go out in Glasgow when I was a lot younger, but then I moved away for many years. When I came back all the places I knew had closed! 8O
Some I used to know:

Club X
Austin's
Vintners
Squires


Glasgow was always a hostile place towards gays and the bars in the 1960's-early 1970's were fairly discrete. I believe the most popular bar then was Guys at the top of Hope Street (which later became a "Berni Inn" steakhouse. There was also the Strand, again in Hope Street, which later opened up a bar in its basement which went on to become Austins. I was only in the original Strand once, when it was at street level, and remember a small deaf and dumb guy who served there. He was quite famous.

Across the road was McCalls, which was probably the most comfortable of all three, but was never very busy when I was there. Down in Gordon Street was the Corn Exchange, which also had a lounge bar in the basement, but it was always a very mixed crowd in there, with lots of commuters having a quick pint before catching their trains across the road in Central Station.

The Duke of Wellington in Argyle Street had only recently been taken over by "the Aramis layer" as the gay scene in Glasgow was once termed when I started frequenting there, and the Waterloo Bar, next door has always had the reputation of being friendly to both gays and the prostitutes that have draped themselves around doorways in the surrounding streets for generations.

When the bars closed, people would often drift to the Classic cinema in Renfield Street, where a cafe and restaurant was situated in the basement. There had been a coffee bar on the third floor of the Central Hotel in Hope Street that was reputed to be gay-friendly, but by the time I got there, I was about the only person on the premises....

For those seeking that rare delight, an alcoholic drink once the bars closed, there was the Close Theatre Club, part of the Citizens Theatre at Gorbals Cross, but you had to know someone with a car to get you there, and even more important, someone who was a member who could sign you in. There was a small theatre and two adjoining large rooms separated by a small bar. The decor was red velvet, with a proliferation of large, bevelled mirrors and lots of young, well-dressed men bending over pool tables. It was almost decadent, and just didn't feel like it was in the Gorbals, at all, let alone Glasgow.

It was some years before the Vintners in Clyde Street became a known venue. Originally it started out its gay career as a typical Victorian bar at street level, with a very friendly lady with an enormous beehive hairstyle serving with a wide grin. Shortly afterwards they opened upstairs, with two Italian brothers providing our comfort zone. The decor was quite unlike anything that had gone before, and they served really good meals at lunchtime.

The lighting was soft, and a guy who I had been at school with provided the music from an enormous pile of reel to reel tapes that hung untidily from above the bar. Another feature was at closing time, when an unlikely reggae anthem "The Guns of Naverone" would be played, and a series of hideous, strong green lights switched on, glaringly revealing the clients in unflattering detail. This had the effect of obliging some of the more "sensitive" clients to leave before this music started.

The next bar to be colonised was up near Blythswood Square, originally know as the Whistle, and frequented by people from the nearby deaf and dumb association. It was a strange feeling being in a crowded bar with absolute silence reigning, everyone communicating by sign language. This soon changed when it became Squires, and the silence was replaced by screams and whoops. A famous piece of grafiti that I can remember on the wall of the
gents toilets was the assertion "Vera owes the catalogue......" Vera being the nickname of one of the bar staff at that time.

Another gem was aimed at a longterm member of the bar staff, who, at closing time, was wheeling a heavy trolley filled with empty bottles towards the door. The trolley made a kind of jingling noise on the floor and someone shouted "Is that you taking your jewellry home then Glen?"

The next longterm bar to appear was the Court, in Hutchison Street. This was a much smaller, and more intimate bar, and seemed to have its regular crowd. Its low light was more sympathetic to an older, more laid back crowd who gathered there. The bar staff i remember were particularly friendly.

Thereafter gay bars seemed to attract a much more mixed crowd, and "trendy" straight couples began hanging out at what they now felt were unthreatening environments as opposed to straight bars where trouble was often never far away. The number of bars grew, and by that time, the dress codes had become more individualistic to the extent that you really couldn't tell if you were in a gay or straight bar if you didn't already know. Bars came and went, and social habits changed, so that gays and straights merged seemlessly and felt at home anywhere. The ghetto mentality was over.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Dexter St. Clair » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:57 am

Excellent stuff. One of the attendants in the Public toilets opposite the Vinters was known for letting out the use of a cubicle for a bottle of whisky whilst he popped out for a drink.
"I before E, except after C" works in most cases but there are exceptions.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Twizzle » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:54 pm

Ooops made these posts without fully reading through all 17 pages of previous entries - sorry if some of my points duplicated those of earlier messages. Great site though. Lots of interesting memories, and nice to see all generations of Glasgow folk taking an interest in what is surely a bit of forgotten but important social history.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Twizzle » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:23 am

groovyclown wrote:I remember seeing Divine in the flesh - so to speak at Strathclyde Union in the 80's - not a pretty site.
I also remember many fun Wednesdays at Panama Jaxs. Although Squires was my favourite haunt after stumbling across it by accident a few months into my first year at Uni.


I was a bit of a fan of Divine's "music" and when I heard that he would play live in Edinburgh's Fire Island, I made a point of going. Say what you will about Edinburgh, but the atmosphere in FI that night was electric, and he received a very warm reception there. He played to the tapes of his songs, but sang along with them live.

His onstage movements were so grotesque they were really captivating, and he was quite energetic for someone of his size. He made the stage look small. However it was his ad-libbed comments between songs that drove everyone wild.

"Gaaaaaad I'm so wet up here.............feels like someone's piiiiiiiiissssed all over me!"

"Hey, you down there (pointing to some kid in the front of the crowd) - spit on it - get it ready for me - right after the show OK?"

I also went to see him in some dive in Blackpool where he really wasn't much appreciated, and managed to get backstage to meet him. His eyes were the palest blue I have ever seen, and his spoken voice cooed like a dove. He was polite and knowledgeable.

He asked where I was from, and when I replied Glasgow, he said "Oh we're going to play Strathclyde soon - thats in Glasgow isn't it?" I found that susprising, as many performers on the road have no idea where they are or where they are going.

I still have an autographed photo, which I value as much as the memories of this bizarre but truly original performer.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Twizzle » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:57 am

Caltonboy wrote:What, No Muscular Arms regulars? :D


In the early 1970s, most young people going out to the pub for a drink didn't dress up - there were exceptions, but denim blue jeans and shirts seemed to be the order of the day - most straight pubs looked like they were full of Status Quo tribute bands.

Then along came David Bowie and Roxy Music. Within a short time, lots of young people were experimenting with a "look", and buying clothes from a new generation of shops that were pandering to this new interest in fashion. The Muscular Arms became the bar to be seen in if you were hetero but wanted to spend a bit of money on your image.

I remember we used to get the late night bus home from George Square, and we could always spot the "Brian Ferries" as we used to call them, as they got on our bus - refugees from the Muscular Arms. Lemon or lime green jackets, smart shirts with button-down collars and ties and even a tie pin was the order of the day for them. They also used to take some verbal stick from some of the other passengers, who thought they must be gay.

I suspect that is where the myth sprung up that the MA was a gay bar. If there are any Muscular Arms regulars in chatrooms, they are unlikely to log on here.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby JumpingAtTheWoodside » Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:06 pm

Glad to see the thread hasn't died. The most recent posts about the 60's and 70's are very interesting, but can anyone give us details about the gay or gay friendly venues even further back?
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby tinbasher » Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:24 pm

I used to go to the MA quite a bit and so far as I know it wasn't a gay bar but I was young and naive back then and I probably wouldn't have noticed if it was !
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby thornwood » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:57 pm

I've just had a great laugh reading through the pages on gay Glasgow. I started my gay journey having my legs rubbed by old men in the duke ( i still get a wee shiver everytime i pass ), moving on to the waterloo with the "tips " that i got from there and my trips to the classic grand, that seemed to show the same movie for the whole time i used to go there, as far as i remember. When i started going to the vintners i would have someone call the place so my name would have to be shouted out , i cringe with embaressment thinking about it now. All the barts i frequented have been mentioned ,austins, squeers for queers , court, e.t.c,. but does no one remember the Drawing room, where , for one night only , i wore a long red dress and sang with shabaz to raise money for the T.H.T . we then minced over the bridge to Knightsbridge S.W.1 which was a great bar for quiet conversation until hazel dean opened the disco and it turned into just another gay hang out
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby HollowHorn » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:59 pm

thornwood wrote: All the barts i frequented

Errr...No names, no pack drill....... ::):
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby Josef » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:10 pm

thornwood wrote: my trips to the classic grand, that seemed to show the same movie for the whole time i used to go there, as far as i remember.


Go on, guv, be specific.
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Re: Gay Glasgow

Postby thornwood » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:57 pm

Hmm........maybe i should have done a quick read through of my last post. just the odd typo ! :) .
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