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05/05/2015

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my straight father worked at connecticut printers in the 1950s. they had a pretty large gay work force for some reason & those employees were pretty "out" at that time around each other. strength in numbers. i guess. anyway, he always told me that "the peerless" had the most interesting people & best conversation in town. he said that he'd heard his first serious discussion about electronic music there (john cage who I later met in the '80s) & about the arts & culture in general. years later when I was working at a gay (non porn) bookstore in Hartford, he stopped in by surprise & asked me if this was the only gay gathering place in Hartford that was not a bar. (we also connected to a gay owned & operated restaurant. I told him "yes" & a middle aged couple that were regulars there turned around because they recognized my father's deep, resonant voice. they all remembered each other from "the peerless" decades before.
I THINK that the peerless was on the first floor level of the linden buildind on main street. I think i'd heard that, but i'm not sure. someone send me a note if you know. i'm at aeolipile1@aol.com

Thanks for the comment, Christine. You're right not to accept everything in an FBI file as the final word although generally they are pretty good source materials.

The FBI's reports about so-called notorious places of amusement often were not based on its direct knowledge but relied upon informants, cops or other sources from the local community.

Do you mind sharing what the Five O'clock Club was like given what you learned from your father and uncle? My understanding was that some of these Five O'clock clubs (although certainly not all) across the country (was it a franchise operation?) had strip-tease shows , burlesque performances, B-girls or other entertainment (or pitfalls) for straight men. However, during the 1950s some of the bawdy straight establishments and their more sexually permissive attitudes also sometimes attracted a smaller gay crowd which may have happened only for a brief period during the premise's life, or on a certain night, or after a certain hour. A lot of bars known for prostitution activity between women and their straight johns also became gathering places for gays and lesbians as fellow sexual outlaws in a repressive period. It's not unusual for bars and clubs to have various incarnations in terms of the crowd type they attracted over the years even under the same ownership. Many gay bars during the 1950s and 1960s often started out as straight places, and never even became exclusively gay.

I'd note that another 5 O'clock club in Buffalo, NY at 285 Delaware Avenue also was identified by the FBI in a 1958 report as "frequented by homosexuals and lesbians," and this premise was not exclusively gay during its operational years (for example, at the same time it attracted a gay contingency the premises also apparently had a gambling crowd).

Not true. My father and his brother owned the Five O'Clock Club on Front Street in Hartford and I can assure you it was not a gay bar.
Goes to show you, you can't believe a thing that the FBI says!!!

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