The FBI's survey of crime conditions across the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s discloses a number of gay bars operating across the Sunshine State.
In Jacksonville the FBI found Smitty's Beach Club on First Avenue was "frequented by prostitutes on holiday and queers," and the Mayfair Bar on Beach Blvd. was a "hangout for queers" according to an April 11, 1958 report. A subsequent November 1958 report further identified Millie's Bar in Jacksonville as "frequented by prostitutes and sex perverts."
Down in Miami the FBI named several gay bars including a few which were operated by reputed mobster Pete Arnstein a/k/a Pete Arnold from Chicago who also allegedly was involved with burglary crews and the flesh trade. Arnstein's gay bars were identified as the Pin Up Bar at 2228 Park Avenue and the Jamaica Cocktail Lounge at the Kingston Hotel. Apparently the places were rather seedy. A March 24, 1958 report describes "the Pin-Up Bar in Miami Beach [as] a hangout for narcotics users, unsavory characters and homosexuals," and a September 8, 1959 report characterizes the Pin-Up Bar as "a hangout for questionable male individuals and narcotics pushers." At the Jamaica Cocktail Lounge apparently "a number of hoodlums . . . hang out at this bar as well as homosexuals."
Arnstein was an alleged associate of Joseph Sonken who owned the Gold Coast Restaurant and Lounge in Hollywood, FL which apparently was used as "a Mafia meeting place" since its opening in 1948, and "investigators also have said the restaurant was used as a national relay center for organized crime families that wanted to pass messages to one another" including Gambino boss John Gotti as reported by Mike Billington in a June 3, 1990 obituary on Sonken for the Sun-Sentinel. Chicago police claimed Sonken and Arnstein were involved with a "major prostitution ring," and in Miami Sonken and Arnstein's wife allegedly operated the Mother Kelly's nightclub at 1405 Dade Blvd. Arnstein also was behind the Mayflower Lounge strip joint at 1716 Alton Road, and owned the Indian Creek Apartments at 5970 Indian Creek Drive according to FBI documents.
Gay bars owned by other individuals in Miami were The Left Bank which was "a new Lesbian establishment . . . in the rear of the Chez Joey Night Club" at 829 Biscayne Boulevard according to a December 1958 FBI report, and the Exclusive Club at 3661 Southwest 8th Street according to September 1959 FBI report. The FBI reports indicate an unspecified tie between Chez Joey and the Exclusive Club although it's unclear whether there was a common ownership as the names are redacted. One informant advised the FBI that "the Exclusive Club caters to queers and lesbians." Another informant related the Exclusive Club "is frequented by homosexuals," and apparently paying off a "'bagman' for the Miami Police Department in the district in which this club is located."
In Tampa the FBI identified Jimmy White's Tavern at 1725 Grand Central Avenue and Knotty Pine Bar at 723 Morgan Street as "hangouts for homosexuals" according to an October 7, 1961 report.
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