Bottom Forty

Bottom Forty is a mirror ball in New York, a basement in Chicago, a cruise in L.A. and a night in the desert.

I never made it to Tugs, says Dan Savage.

Written by
April 21, 2013

Tugs was a bellwether that’s for sure. Tugs Belltown more so. Originally we (Tugs) were going to be at Pine and Boylston where R-Place is, but Phil Smart yanked our agreement. So we moved to the corner of Pine and Belmont. Everything we had been working on had to be pulled and put into storage.

Mind MeatDAN 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.”)

Actually it’s…. (“I’m not just a mind. I am a piece of meat.”)

Dan continues, “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.”Cal_Anderson

My DJ booth was a crow’s nest up in the SW corner barely enough room for me some vinyl and equipment including video. It also had a trap door you had to push up to get in and when you put it down that was the floor. During the under wear parties I was basically stuck there for four hours or more. I’d peak through the peep hole looking under the booth and guys were making out, sucking dick, it was crazy. I had been in similar situations playing parties before so I was prepared to pee in a can and dump it later.

In the late 1980s, Tugs Belltown, at its new venue, played a key role in Seattle’s burgeoning and sexy fringe theater scene. Possibly the first bar 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 Hoolihan.) from Wikipedia

MedeaI was Dan’s sound and light guy for those early Greek Active Theater productions. They were brilliant and quite amusing and a lot of fun. “Medea” was my favorite such a fantastic production, poor Medea so unhappy. Certainly watching Crystal Lane in her last stage appearance in “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” was a huge loss at that time, I mean it was in the middle of the AIDS crisis and it was her last performance, Kristopher Anderson was 33 when he died. We lost so many talented and bright people back then.


Like the lyrics of Being Boring by the Pet Shop Boys say, “All the people I was kissing, some are here and some are missing in the nineteen-nineties.”


Category: Herstory

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