Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mattachine!

For those of you who don't know the Mattachine Society was the first official gay group in history. The first group met in Los Angeles on November 11, 1950. This is 19 years before Stonewall and 20 before the first gay pride March/Rally. Their focus was to,

"1. Unify homosexuals isolated from their own kind; 2. Educate homosexuals and heterosexuals toward an ethical homosexual culture paralleling the cultures of the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples; 3. Lead the more socially conscious homosexual to provide leadership to the whole mass of social deviates; and 4. Assist our people who are victimized daily as a result of our oppression."
Today, Julius' Bar in NYC is probably the least known gay bar on the island. Tucked away on a quiet corner in the West Village this bar doesn't attract the young, the hip or the latest in gay trends. But it has one remarkable history and the owner refuses to let this place be consumed by the ever-changing New York. With this in mind, John Cameron Mitchell (yes, Hedwig herself) and pals celebrate this bar and how far we've come with a new night in the old establishment.
"Thank Julius' for Gay Bars. Literally."
PJ DeBoy, John Cameron Mitchell, and Julius' invite you to...


MATTACHINE

Julius' is one of the oldest bars in NYC, dating back to 1867. It was named Julius' after Prohibition and still retains its gorgeous '50's charcoal decor. Why hasn't the space been converted into a Ralph Lauren outlet like every other mom-and-pop in the West Village? Because the owner of the building recognizes it as a landmark.
A little-known but important milestone in gay history took place there, one that paved the way for the Stonewall Rebellion. On April 21, 1966, (three years to the day after John's birthday ironically. Or not.) the Mattachine Society staged the first civil rights "sip-in". At the time, it was illegal to serve alcohol to "known homosexuals." A group of immaculately-suited men bellied up to Julius' bar and declared, "We are homosexuals and we demand to be served." (a line immortalized by Justin Bond most nights.) Fred MacDarrah captured the historic moment on the slice of celluloid featured on our flyer. (If you look closely you'll recognize key activist Paul Dawson.)

Knowing our crew, Thursday February 7th (9pm on) will likely be known as the first "gulp-in". So put on your high-heeled sneakers, put your toupee on your head and march on down to Julius' for some turntable action by John Cameron "Dear Tic" Mitchell, Amber Martin and PJ DeBoy, spinning hits for queer ears from bygone years. There might just be some special guests who hail from the fateful night!

Oh, did I mention the amazing burgers and cheap drinks?

8 comments:

bstewart23 said...

WHY am I not living in NYC? No, really, WHY?

the cajun said...

Julius' and I go way back. In the early sixties the straight bartenders would not allow the gay guys to cruise openly, so you made contact via the huge mirror behind the bar. They all knew what was happening, but they seemed to relish the fact that they were making life difficult for the fruits (as we were known to them back then)though that all changed after Stonewall.

The burgers were so good, and served on toasted bread, not rolls.
And cheap. At NYU at the time, I had little extra money for the luxury of dining out often, but these burgers were like a gourmet meal. We used to joke that it was the sawdust from the floors that made the burgers unique.
I haven't been there since my friend Craig Rodwell passed away. Craig was the owner of the Oscar Wilde Book Shop. We went way back, too.Photos us us and other friends can be seen in the Film "Before Stonewall".
Thanks for the memories. Next time I'm in Gotham, I may make a pilgrimage and find out for myself if the burgers are as I remember them.

BQ said...

Thanks for your entry on Julius -- I have an interest in gay bar history in New York City, and I'm always glad to see others reminding us where we came from

David said...

Maybe I'll swing by after yoga class.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Eric, I'm pretty sure this is also one of those no-pants events you seem to like so much. So just show up in your underwear, please. See you there!

dioramist said...

Hey,
Photos from the June 26th 2008 Mattachine Party at Julius:

http://flickr.com/photos/26904551@N04/sets/72157605844175851/

Be well!

stacyrfleming said...

I think the name "Mattachine Society" is very original! I think ¡it is great that homosexuals have their own group because some people do not respect them. I heard that they take much viagra online

johnkorolowassoc said...

I started hanging out in the Village in September 1979 when I was 20 years old. My bf and I used to hop the bus from NJ and then from Port Authority we would walk all the way down to Christopher Street, stop in at Uncle Charlies then walk into the Stonewall for a minute (always fascinated me that just 10 years earlier this was the birth of gay rights) then spend some time in the Ninth Circle were oter cute young guys could always be found and then for a night cap over at Julius' where the crowd was mature and interesting and I loved being there because that is where the bar scene from The Boys In The Band took place in the 1970 film. I got into a relationship in 1987 and stopped my weekend Village bars route. As a single gay man now 51 years old I think I'll take a spin down to the Village and walk my old weekend bar route (altough the Ninth Circle has been long gone). I'm glad Julius' is still there and I'll bet it has not changed a bit in all these years. I certainly hope that the Village keeps it's vintage character forever as it should never look like the damn suburbs. PS It was sad to know that the Oscar Wilde Memorial Book Shop closed on Christopher Street in 2009. We lost a real genuine piece of gay history when it closed. Perhaps we can get a movement going to have a plaque put on the brownstone where it used to be? If anyone is interested please let me know.