According to claims from some gay bar insiders in New York City the Mafia still may have a hand in at least a few establishments.
Of course, such claims should not be startling. The Mafia once enjoyed near-monoply control over gay bars in New York City, and even as late as 1985 reputed capo Matthew "Matty the Horse" Ianniello was convicted with several associates for skimming profits out of several bars including the tranny bar Gilded Grape and the hustler bar Hay Market.
One former barback of a currently-operating downtown gay bar claims that the place is run by the mob, and although only nineteen years old at the time of his under-the-table employment allegedly was allowed to guzzle all the alcohol he could at a discounted $1 a drink. A freelance writer who was working on an ultimately-killed story for a major online gay news site interviewed a bartender at that same establishment who reportedly acknowledged a "rumor" about Mafia control but was "too afraid" to ask about it.
And a former manager of a currently-operating uptown gay bar alleges that the establishment at which he worked -- plus another one nearby -- is run by "wise guys." A bartender at that same uptown joint even once identified an alleged mobster who from time-to-time made an appearance, and although married with children the purported wise guy apparently has a little sugar in his tank and is known to sample the merchandise.
Many gay bars today are backed by legitimate business people, and the Mafia certainly does not maintain the near-monopoly it previously enjoyed for decades. However, no one really should expect the Mafia completely to exit gay nightlife. After all, the Mafia was instrumental in creating the industry and no doubt claims certain rights beyond bragging for its enterprising vision.
Indeed, the record bust last Thursday of over 100 suspected mobsters shows one thing for sure: the wise guys know when they have a good thing going, and they rarely are inclined to let it go. According to the federal allegations the mob maintains a grip -- largely through union corruption and extortionate threats -- on the waterfront and in construction notwithstanding decades of prosecution in those rackets. The money is just too good to let a few pinches thwart its schemes. Similarly, it would be extraordinarily naive to expect the Mafia simply to walk away from its gay bars -- particularly since law enforcement over the years generally has left the reputed mobsters behind the suspected joints to their own devices.
Given that a primary purpose of the Stonewall riots was to kick the Mafia out of gay bars, perhaps more than forty years later it's time to honor the memory of those pioneering gay and lesbian street activisits by finishing their work. After all, the mob is no friend to the LGBT community even if it has befriended a few Auntie Gays. So if you have any info involving the hidden hand of the mob in any gay bars, feel free to tip off the FBI. The agency's New York Field Office can be reached by phone at (212) 384-1000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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