Nite Trax: The Eagle flies again

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New SF Eagle owners Mike and Alex, with Sup. David Campos and Sunny Angulo of Sup. Jane Kim's office
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MARKE B.

I hung out yesterday evening with the new occupants of the Eagle Tavern (now known as the SF Eagle, apparently) at a celebration of the lease-signing at the Lone Star Saloon. Alex Montiel and Mike Leon seem perfect to replace the former Eagle operators Joe and John: Tough-looking and leather-bearish, a tad gruff at first but friendly once they warm to you, and a wee bit shy of the press right now.

They'll be releasing their full plans for the storied queer bar in a couple weeks, but I did manage to squeeze some juicy info out of Alex. They hope to open the bar in time for Halloween, the liquor license has indeed been secured (in fact, they have two!), and they'll be doing their best to return some of the Eagle's ambiance to the now-pretty-much-gutted space, with a few slight modifications to the bar layout for code and traffic flow reasons.   

It's certainly been a long, winding, super-convoluted road to get to this point!

I'm not sure anyone can convey all the twists and turns and backroom mechanations of the whole thing -- Jay Barmann at Grubstreet has done some excellent reporting on it all, but there were still many, many balls in the air, shall we say, and the shady politics got slightly out of control. The fight to keep a historically queer space queer -- despite the previous occupants' quasi-abandonment, despite the lucrative offers from upscale restaurants, despite the limited power and will of the city to legislate such things -- was a bit of a hot gay potato for the past year. (The Eagle's infamous, charitable Sunday Beer Busts lived on in monthly form at El Rio in the Mission, at least.)

Even the idea of a "historic queer space" was questioned: if the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had sanctified it, and the ashes of multiple queer people were scattered about a place that raised tens of throusands of dollars for amazing local causes and was regarded as the heart of the old school gay leather rock 'n roll biker community, was it important enough to fight for?

Hats off to Milk Club president and outspoken queer activist Glendon Anna Conda Hyde for saying, "Hell yes!"

Glendon (identified slightly incorrectly in a recent Chron story as the Norm of the Eagle's "Cheers" -- that was actually the frizzy-haired dear in the thong and flip-flops who stood around clutching a goblet of piss) kept the Eagle issue at the forefront of the city's debate about gentrification and the loss of queer nightlife spaces, angering some fussy queens with his usual passion and stridency, but in the end succeeding in rallying an assortment of powerful players to the Eagle's defense.

I talked to Glendon today about how the whole thing went down. His basic summation was that Supervisors David Campos and Jane Kim did excellent jobs of making sure the Eagle stayed queer (Sup. Scott Weiner does not get very high marks from him in this regard), and that dubious dealings by the person supposedly representing the owner of the building -- who lives north of the city, and who Glendon said had indeed wanted to welcome in new queer owners all along -- were what kept screwing everything up. Finally the building owner (actually, the manager of a trust that includes several elderly owners) awarded the lease to Mike and Alex after he realized what was happening with his representation and the reaction of the community.

"I think it's so great," Glendon told me. "People keep saying that you can't revitalize queer nightlife in SoMa -- but that's just a lazy excuse for gentrification. I'm glad we could band together to ensure a future for queer spaces in this city. We should be proud of what happened here. Our shared queer history is a powerful force. 

"We're still fighting for an officially recognized queer historical district in SoMa that will honor those who came before us, and also help preserve lively alternative queer spaces. Supervisor Christina Olague and CMAC [California Music and Culture Association] is working hard on that. One of the major problems is that it's illegal to say something has to be or remain 'gay.' I think we saw here that it can be done within the limits of current boundaries."

As for the future of the Eagle? "Mike and Alex have indicated that while they'll still be preserving the main traditions and atmosphere -- as well as probably hiring some of the old staff back -- they are hoping it will be a much more open space. Already the Lexington Club is planning to host a fundraiser to help them remodel, so that suggests the Eagle will be more women-friendly, and there may be new parties there from some of the city's younger promoters as well."

My favorite part of this whole thing -- besides the colorful faux-funeral outside Foreign Cinema restaurant, or the "assless chaps" takeover of the Skylark bar (both at one point identified as villains in the Eagle saga)? Beyond the banding together of the community to save an actually cool place that is a huge and drunken part of my life (also, DJ Don Baird on Sundays was secretly the best DJ in the city)?

At one point it was announced that the Eagle was to become a fancy pizza place with a wood-fired oven on the back patio. Glendon turned to me and hissed: "I always knew the straights wanted to put us in the oven!" 

Comments

because it had too few customers in the first place?

I hope the new owners have a better business plan than the last ones because a crowd composed of old stretched out leather queens in saggy assless chaps (which is all I saw the few times I ventured inside that dump) is not going to bring in the bucks necessary to keep this trainwreck from entering chapter 11 again. And it's not the city's job to subsidize failing businesses because a few gays happen to consider it "historic."

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

They do need some drinkable beer on tap though.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

But with the people in charge talking about bringing back the same staff and with its shrinking client base (lets face it - leather has become a lot more mainstream these days and there's just not the same community there once was) I don't have a lot of hope. I give it a year or two until Campos and Ana Conda are back in front of the Board demanding a subsidy or asking, illegally, for the space to be designated for "queers" only. Can you imagine if the Irish community, which once controlled the Castro, had demanded the same thing before they moved out to the Richmond?

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

Nice Troll II - start off on an encouraging note there why don't ya?!? - I do agree though Troll II, I HATE the use of the term "queer" for this. It is VERY out of place and demeaning.

Good for them! The community will be well relieved to have that loacation back for the uniqueness of the kind of environment and friendly location it offered to the people who loved it there. Bringing back the original staff will allow them to rebuild the establishment with the kinds of events and schedule that had it full and making money like it did before the previous owners started cutting things out to reduce business and interest.

Bring it on guys!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 6:56 am

Troll II, care to elaborate on why you think you know what did (and is going to) happen?

Posted by Curious Cat on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 9:04 am

No ignorant guy it did not !!!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 7:37 am

Gays and queers helped make this city what it is. You were obviously never there on Sundays, when it was FULL TO BURSTING with queens, dykes and nuns of all shapes sizes and genders. You were obviously there during leather events, when there was a line all the way round the block. There was a lot of shit around the closing of the bar that had not a lot to do with the fact that the buisness was not making enough money. Get your facts str8 before spouting your log cabin free market bullshit. Why not preserve a historic space or two??? What's wrong with that?

Posted by Guest Sean Bug on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 9:00 am

Sundays were full - full of tired old leather queens with stretched out nips and ass cheeks hanging down to the floor - along with soggy pans of lasagna as well. Hardly a recipe for success the other 6 nights of the week.

There are plenty of thriving GLBT establishments in SOMA who are thriving because they're creating a recipe for success in the 21st century and not looking back 40 years and trying to recreate something which was a unique product of a specific time and era. The 70s and early 80s are over and they're not coming back - no matter how much you wish they were. What's next? Demanding the Trocadero Transfer reopen on a permanent basis? Give me a break.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 9:46 am

They're bringing it back for the all-inclusive "gays, dykes, breeders, hipsters, bikers, rockers" atmosphere that drew so many young men, even in the 2000s, there to get away from the image-oriented Castro scene. Were you ever there on a Thursday? Was the place not packed with a very youthful crowd there to listen to great bands play? Just stop already, or at least stop hiding behind a keyboard when whining your dick off on a blog comment thread...

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 11:56 am

Your (internalized?) homophobic comments about stretched out leather queens aside, who said that the city was in any way, shape or form subsidizing the Eagle?

Posted by Trolllllllll on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 10:01 am

I didn't say the city was "subsidizing the Eagle." I said if the bar is run the same way as before it won't be long until Glendon and David Campos are back at the Board demanding it BEGIN subsidizing the Eagle.

Who wants to see stretched out asses and saggy nips? I want to see firm, sexy asses and nice pecs - as do most gay men my age. That's why the average age of an Eagle denizen is approaching 55+ and why the bar declined in the first place.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 10:43 am

How is it even possible? Answer: even when lying about what she said previously and mendaciously dissembling about her own true character, she does so using a sequence of words crafted specifically to further her goal of skewing the truth.

Kind of amazing, in a way.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

You are the most disgusting asshole ever. Your sagging nipples and stretched out ass comments are so incredibly disgusting they make me shake with anger and emotional pain. I have seen your comments before on other blogs.

Your comments reflect ageism at it's worst. Are you the asshole behind the current and widely known SOMA bars (like Truck and Powerhouse) desire to eliminate all patrons over the age of 40, or say 45 from events? I am a victim of such efforts at both bars. I know older men who have moved away from this city RECENTLY due to the arrogance of ageist assholes like you.

Are you terminally ill? Are you destined to croak before you turn 40 due to some disease? Or are you just the most self-hating asshole ever? If you are a gay man, as you state you are, do you know that you are contributing to a level of psychological pain that can and does lead to the death of some of your fellow gay men? [Maybe that makes you happy.]

Are we expendable people after your eyes become less than enchanted? Who the fuck are you anyway?

Your concern over the survival of the new Eagle due to business practices that you don't like is a ruse, plain and simple. You also reveal in your ridiculous drivel that you have no regard for gay history. I moved to SF from another bug gay city who has done a masterful job at eliminating the parts of gay history and current gay life the gay "mainstream" doesn't find savory anymore. You will not get away with such shit in SF without screaming protest from me.

Your Himmler-like stereotyping propaganda is not only not welcomed, it is also disgusting, divisive, destructive an characteristically NOT San Franciscan.

I am 50, but I have the hardest, bounce a quarter off of bubble ass you or any of your fellow young assholes have ever seen. Squeezing it hard enough to even get a response from me would hurt your hands. My nipples are like big pencil erasers that can't sag due to being mounted on hard mountains of steel.

Fuck you Troll II. What a fool you are.

Now take your stereotyping and either shut the fuck up or get the fuck out of SF. You are not welcomed by me.

Posted by frankboysf on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

is, we may justifiably suspect, a self-hating gay; which is, of course, the *only* bad kind of gay that there is.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

Hey Troll II... Thanks for sharing. One would have to assume that you are EXACTLY the kind of patron the new owners of the Eagle DON'T need or want. So you made your tired, bitchy point. Do the rest of us a favor and don't come, because we're too busy with excitement to let you bring everyone else down. Have fun at Twin Peaks!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 11:11 am

LOL. Right.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 11:38 am

Perhaps one of the (many) reasons the Eagle closed was because there were too many entitlement queens like yourself who have plenty of catty opinions and have unrealistically high expectations of a self-involved nature, but nothing to offer in the way of putting your money where you mouth is.

I mean, pony-up, honey! If you felt the reason the Eagle closed was because no one was there, then maybe you, and others of your ilk, should have patronized it more, instead of making baseless assumptions on something you know absolutely nothing about, because if all you did was go on Sundays, then you missed out, pal.

I spent several nights a week there for decades and always had a great time, primarily because there seemed to be a dearth of callow bitches like you and more people there to create a real community. Hence, the amount of support the new Eagle is getting.

So do everyone a favor and keep your sad, self-loathing opinions to yourself and stay home.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 11:55 am

I should be more cognizant of the needs of that particular part of our GLBT population. I'm glad our GLBT seniors, previously displaced by the closing of The Eagle, will now have a place to enjoy themselves outside of singing showtunes at Twin Peaks. The Eagle will have that innate sense of community lacking in other establishments - that's for sure.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

You mean the glass coffin?

It's an OK bar.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

should be sticky with semen in no time at all.

Posted by Ruth Bladder Ginsu on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 6:22 am

YAY!!

Posted by Guest Sean Bug on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 9:02 am

Marke, Chalice Man was a fixture at the old Hole in Wall. Get yer SOMA icons straight! ;)

Posted by Colin on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 7:34 am

Wasn't Marke B. still in diapers when the old Hole in the Wall closed down.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

Being in diapers wasn't really a function of age when it came to the old, kinky Hole.

Posted by Guest (the same one) on Sep. 01, 2012 @ 9:28 am

Because SF is lacking in poorly put together hole in the wall gay bars that smell vaguely of numbers 1 and 2.
What is the SF fetish for gay spaces which look at feel like they have been transported from the ozarks?
It's like SF's aesthetic for these things is officially "broke down and busted"

Anything with a hint of design immediately is put down as for fancy gays who care about nothing but appearance.

Larger less provincial cities can actually have nice, well designed gay spaces which can be inhabited by ANYONE (Chicago, NY)

Posted by Greg on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 8:58 am

"What is the SF fetish for gay spaces which look at feel like they have been transported from the Ozarks?" – That's because the Ozarks may at one time been home. It's called nostalgia/homesickness.

"It's like SF's aesthetic for these things is officially "broke down and busted". – That's because broke down and busted is the Hee-Haw version of Mid-century modern; it's not even shabby-chic. My line of work takes me into many homes, and I find that Dapper Dan frequently choses his clothes from piles of unfolded laundry on chairs, beds and closet floors. Squalor doesn't come with expectations. You're not going to tell me that you haven't visited www.luriddigs.com, are you?!

Come on, you've been in enough gay homes in San Francisco to know that good taste and style is a myth that refuses to die.
This is a city with a large gay population, but that doesn't mean that it's a cosmopolitan one.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 02, 2012 @ 12:23 am

Which is why you'll find me at the new SF Eagle. Because unattractive, smelly people with no social lives need a place to congregate as well. Thanks to the new owners for making sure my particular demographic has a place to call our own!

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

I really should have figured that.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

Unfortunately I'm a 53-year old virgin. So at this point I'd take anything if it were offered. That's why this "Eagle" establishment sounds intriguing to me - it's supposed to be a place for everyone and I definitely do not seem to fit anywhere else - so this just may the ticket to a night of sexual release for me.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

Although it's not an image I'd want to linger over.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

Rather than a latex sleeve and daily arguments here. Hopefully this new "Eagle" bar will provide me with some of both. It sounds like they're accepting of many types of diversity at this new establishment so I'm looking forward to making an effort there when it opens.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

I await SF nightlife while I sit in my rent-controlled studio - yet no one seems to hear me. I sit in my hot, dusty studio waiting for someone to hear me but no one does.

So now I SCREAM to let everyone know I'm here - that I'm lillipublicans - the lord/ess of the SFBG comment scene. And I'm here - NOW!

Reach out to me. Please.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 01, 2012 @ 2:36 am

No wonder people are discouraged from posting their real names. Of course, BG editors will do nothing about it. Maybe someone should imp Tim Redmond or Steven Jones for a change.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

Everything is mobile and wi-fi these days, so IP addresses are useless to track who is doing what.

Everyone should just post as "Guest" or "Anon", so we can focus on the message and not the messenger.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 1:40 am

and your little demographic, too!

Posted by admin on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

park your shopping kart outside.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 7:28 pm

will be offered to the first 50 bears who buy a Bud Light.

Posted by Orwell's Uterus on Aug. 31, 2012 @ 8:27 am

haha! good luck!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 31, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

Troll II, please start your own bar. Once it's open, you can make sure that only people who fit your narrow standard of beauty can enter. But then you'd have to deal with the state's Alcoholic Beverage Commission because liquor licenses won't allow you to do that.

If you don't want to open your own place, then don't go to the Eagle and keep your evaluations of its patrons to yourself. You've hijacked a meaningful conversation and turned it into one that just trashes people.

Posted by SFDude on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

I will be wearing ass-less attire (a more correct designation for such clothing) EVERY CHANCE I GET at the new Eagle. You want a hard perky ass to look at Troll II? Come on down and see it. You won't be disappointed, unless I guess, you card me before you choose to comment, which, I will gladly comply. When you see I was born in 1962, I can't wait to see you shutter and squeal and then run screaming out the door in horror. Why? Because you will realize that your hateful propaganda has no place in any San Francisco social setting.

Maybe if we all show up at the reopening party in ass-less attire, no matter who we are, even the older guys and, OMG, even the women, we can permanently scare off creeps like Troll II. Come on guys and gals, all of you, lets scare him off from the Eagle altogether.

Posted by frankboysf on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

NOCD - Not Our Class Dear. My friends and I wouldn't dare disturb the miasma of BO, Viagra-fueled sexual desire and cheap beer which clearly appeals to Eagle denizens such as yourself. To each their own!

Posted by Troll II on Sep. 09, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

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