Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Divine eats Dog Shit in Pink Flamingos. . . a Baltimore delicacy.

Now that the Ravens have reminded everyone that Baltimore is "The Greatest City in America," you better Natty Boh-lieve it.  It's time for Big Shoe Diaries to explore the roots of this charming city with a series of posts on why Baltimore is way more "awesomer" than where you live.  In response to a fan letter requesting some sights and sounds of Baltimore for an upcoming visit, we compiled a "Gay Bar Crawl How To" for the city that Edgar Allen Poe, Gertrude Stein and John Waters all called home.  What's your town's comparable gay bar crawl like? We'd like to know - bigshoediaries@gmail.com

Gay Charm City is quite easy on foot once you get to Mount Vernon neighborhood.  This part of town is easily accessible by Amtrak/MARC trains to Baltimore's Penn Station, BoltBus service from NYC and I-95 for those of you with cars.  There are several great bed and breakfasts in the neighborhood and an overpriced boutique hotel if you a shitty bottle of red wine on your bed is worth an extra $100.  Each bar is an experience unto itself that defines. . and is defined by this crazy little city!  Here's my recommendation for how to tackle a big gay night out in "Bal-mer" (it's how it's pronounced here).

Do them in this order (all are within 5 minute walk from each other).
Gay Bar 1: Jay's on Read - It's a piano bar on Read Street. Friendly older guys flirting with the piano player.  Have an old fashioned and don't stay too long. If you get drunk and overdo it on open mic/karaoke night, the upstairs neighbors complain about the noise and SHUT IT DOWN.

Jay's on Read. . . just precious.
Gay Bar 2: The Drinkery - famous dive bar, near to where Divine ate dog shit in Pink Flamingos.  Trashy and Cheap, just the way we all really want it, despite the fancified direction most gay bars continue to take.  Pottery Barns with Vodka? Snore.  Character, boys. . .it takes the cake every time.

Gay Bar 3: Leon's - it's the oldest continuously operating gay bar in Baltimore (even cheaper - terrible/awesome jukebox), low ceilings, high bear quotient. It's easy to stay here longer than you expected. Rite Aid's around the corner if you need a snack or some condoms.

Gay Bar 4: Hippo (Bar area, not the dance club), laid back pool/video bar, very late 90s.  It's not bad, it's not good.  Everyone is usually pretty nice here. If you luck out and end up here on their Showtunes night, you'll walk away with some serious schwag.

Gay Bar 5: Grand Central, the "scene" bar of Baltimore.  Get ready for some small town attitude from the staff and other patrons.  You didn't know you weren't good enough to get drunk in Bmore 'til you came here. And you'll be drunk from all those cheap drinks at The Drinkery and Leon's, so you'll have no problem letting everyone know how offended you are.* 

*Note: Picketing the bar for it's bad service and the bad attitude (not to mention bad fashion) of its managers at 1:30 a.m. will mean that they will call the police on you(this ain't the city of brotherly love), who will chase you down the alley behind the bar and politely remind you to get a permit the next time you try to stage an impromptu gay protest of a gay bar.

Add some attitude at the door.

Gay Bar 6 (if you make it this long): back across the street to Hippo's dance party for whatever ridiculously overpriced bad gay DJ night they have planned (excluding of the course the awesome and hipstere'd out DEEP IN THE GAME party and the Wednesday night hip hop party - those are actually awesome!!).

If you need a break, or food to fuel up. . . don't miss Brewer's Art (amazing local craft brewery and very gay-friendly/good bar food) AND Iggies (amazing BYOB pizza joint)...again all in the same 'hood.

Have fun!!!


  1. OMG Leon's !!
    How many guys picked me up there many years ago?

  2. What happened to the Eagle? Used to be my favorite hang

  3. Yummy go-go boy! I'll take two, please!