Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seattle's first openly Gay Bar Shelly's Leg and Tugs (Beltown and Belmont)

Found this today and thought it was interesting.
Today from the archive we share a bit about Shelly Bauman who helped bring an openly gay bar to Pioneer Square in the early 1970s.

Bauman died November 18 at her Bremerton home. She was 63. Her obituary in Seattle Gay News is available here.

On July 14, 1970, Bauman was rushed to Harborview Medical Center after being struck by an antique cannon, used as part of a parade in Pioneer Square. The owner was cited for not getting a permit and attorneys for Bauman, then 23, filed a $1 million lawsuit against the cannon owner in King County Superior Court.

Also named were the proprietor of the Brasserie Pittsbourg restaurant and the Pioneer Square Association that promoted the event where the cannon was fired.

Bauman accepted a $330,000 settlement in April 1973 and with the money was co-owner of Shelly's Leg � a bar advertised as being "provided for Seattle's gay community and their guests."

Seattle had gay bars before, but Shelly's Leg was noted for being open about the bar's intention. Seattle Gay News also said it was the city's first disco, opening on Nov. 13, 1973.

It took the place of the former Grapvine Tavern and a KOL-AM deejay, Burl Barer, spun records there two night a week. Read a January 1974 Emmett Watson column about Shelly's Leg here.

On Dec. 4, 1975, a tanker truck crashed hit a guardrail on the southbound viaduct and dumped 3,700 gallons of gasoline. Shelly's Leg had about 150 people in it when the crash occurred at 1 a.m. Patrons left the bar, which was near the viaduct, out a side door as windows were shattering. Read more about that incident here.
The bar lasted until 1979, and the sign declaring Shelly's Leg a gay bar is now at the Museum of History and Industry. Read more here.

From Seattle PI Check out this article as it has some cool archived stuff on it.

I had grown up with my mother's best friend and her kids. One of them was Patrick who was a part owner of Seattle's Tugs Belltown bar. I had never been in it but I heard a lot about it. I hadn't really known Pat was gay, until after he died of the usual suspect back in those days. A sad thing, as both Pat and his younger brother Gary were both very cool people (as is their sister who had offered to go to my Senior Prom with me even though she was already old enough to drink by then; but what a picture she would have made on my arm as they were all very attractive people; but I declined because I had hoped for the possibility of a romantic tryst that night and I figured, no chance with such an older and sophisticated woman, but that story, for another time).

I don't know much about the bar as it was before my time to get into bars if I remember, and I might not have gone in there anyway, but had Pat invited me I would have. If I knew more about Tugs, I would give it its own article just out of respect for Pat. Tugs Belltown has a profile on Facebook. I'm getting the feeling Patrick was involved with the Tugs Belltown bar.
Patrick Harrison and David Hecker - Owners

The articles below is more than I ever knew about it.

From Wikipedia:

"In the late 1980s, another gay bar, Tugs Belltown, moved up to the Hill (corner of Pine and Belmont) and became Tugs Belmont where underwear parties were held. In this new venue, it played a key role in Seattle's burgeoning and sexy fringe theater scene. Possibly the first bar[citation needed] in Seattle since before the Prohibition era to host regular theater performances, in the early 1990s it was the primary home of the Greek Active Theater, founded by sex columnist and Capitol Hill resident Dan Savage (working pseudonymously as Keenan Hollohan)."

Here's more:
"I used to be a regular at the original Belltown T.U.G.S. where Nina Hagen came to party. I can also tell you that the newer T.U.G.S., on the block being torn down for condos, was where Sandra Bernhardt came to party after appearing at The Paramount up the street toward downtown."
"DAN SAVAGE: I never made it to Tugs—the original Tugs, Belltown's legendary gay bar. The gay men I knew when I arrived in Seattle (hey, Kurt!) couldn't shut up about Tugs—how great it was, how much fun it was—and they treasured their Tugs T-shirts. ("I am not just a person. I am a piece of meat.")

When I got to Seattle in 1991, Tugs had moved up the hill to Pine Street and Belmont Avenue, and no one that had been to Tugs Belltown thought very much of it. Post-1991 arrivals, though, loved the place. It was home to notoriously sleazy underwear parties that so offended the Washington State Liquor Control Board that it threatened to shut Tugs Belmont down. The threats stopped after Cal Anderson, Washington State's first openly gay state legislator, showed up at one of Tugs Belmont's underwear parties in his legislative underwear and chatted up the inspectors sent by the WSLCB."
both above paragraphs from Silenced Majority

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