Yikes! Hello there! What are you doing here? Oh, my trinket stars, it’s Friday again, isn’t it? You know, Mary, I truly believed for a second it was Saturday and I forgot our weekly post on some admirably trashy queer nightlife history for all you dear readers.
Yes, I know–this hag had one too many cocktails last night but no matter! What better way to celebrate lost time than to take a trip down nostalgic memory lane with Dean Johnson’s Rock n’Roll Fag Bar!
As you faithful Filthy Dreams fanatics might recall (better recall!), we already professed our undying love for our filth elder Dean Johnson in our first Role Model post. Feel free to revisit our adoration for that 6’6″ icon with a special sneering hate for the telephone companies, the Secretary of State and Mary Tyler Moore.
While Johnson hosted several significant and sleazily-named parties in his nightlife career such as the Pubic Hair Club for Men and HomoCorps at CBGB, the most memorably named is undoubtedly his weekly party Rock n’Roll Fag Bar.
In 1987, Johnson founded the Rock n’Roll Fag Bar, held every Tuesday night at The World nightclub, which was located at 254 East 2nd Street in the still shooting gallery-filled, junkie gauntlet of Alphabet City. As creator, promoter, emcee, and often performer with his band Dean & The Weenies, Johnson embodied the rebellious punk attitude of the party.
In OutWeek Magazine‘s November 19, 1989 issue, writer Kiki Mason describes the scene of the Rock n’Roll Fag Bar. In the article “Tripping The Night Fantastic,” focusing on the rebirth of the club scene after the widespread club and bath shutterings during the early years of the AIDS crisis, Mason states:
“In 1987, after several unsuccessful tries, Dean Johnson opened the Rock n’Roll Fag Bar at The World. It was dark. The music was sexy and different. There were go-go boys wearing only underwear, grinding their crotches into oblivion. After the uptight attitude of clubs like Nell’s, The World spelled relief” (41).
Grinding their crotches into oblivion? Well, reading that phrase just woke me up better than a cup of coffee!
However, not everyone was so taken by darkly-lit sexuality of the Rock n’Roll Fag Bar. In 1988, Johnson created some controversy after opening up an unmonitored back room in the club, raising eyebrows and a sense of fear amongst some AIDS activists that unsafe sex could be dangerously occurring.
As Mason explains:
“A year later, in the summer of 1988, Johnson did something that would have been unthinkable two or three years earlier. He opened a back room. Although he admonished the crowd to keep the “Testosteroom” safe, the space was dark and unmonitored. A controversy erupted. Some men claimed that unsafe sex was taking place and some members of ACT UP were so outraged by the fact that unsafe sex might be occurring at a gay event that they threatened a protest. But other activists saw it quite differently, asserting that we shouldn’t be ‘policing the community.’ A debate raged throughout the community, most notably on ACT UP’s floor. Nothing was ever resolved by ACT UP regarding the issue. And throughout the gay and lesbian community, the topic still flares up” (41).
While the Rock n’Roll Fag Bar, and The World, were fairly short-lived and 254 East 2nd Street is now a luxury apartment building (hurk!), Johnson’s Rock n’Roll Fag Bar (like the Tunnel) is preserved in the fab videos of Nelson Sullivan.
So grab your leather jacket, a sequined dress, giant doorknocker earrings and an intimidating attitude and take a trip to the Rock n’Roll Fag Bar:
And just for good measure–who couldn’t use some good Friday catharsis, here’s my favorite Dean & The Weenies song “Fuck You”: