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May 2, 2014

Three Toledo bars close as two new ones open

Toledo--The Toledo LGBT community is undergoing some major changes at three local bars.

The city’s only lesbian bar, Outskirts, will close for good on May 17 leaving a void for women in Toledo and the surrounding area. The next closest lesbian bar is Stilettos in the Detroit suburb of Inkster. Outskirts opened July 19, 2008 on Laskey Rd. in the building that once was Gilda's lesbian bar. Gilda's had a 3˝-year run and then Outskirts moved in. In July 2011, Outskirts moved to its current location at 5040 Lewis Ave. in West Toledo.

Outskirts owners Lexi Staples and her mother, Johanna Staples, are proud of their six years with the club but they are ready to move onto other ventures. Lexi and her partner are planning to get married and want to have a baby. Lexi was recently hired by the Collingwood Arts Center as office manager and events coordinator. She still serves as the president for Toledo Pride Foundation and is director of Pride Center 419.

Tim McCune, owner of the Outskirts building, says that he plans to open a gay bar and restaurant there called the Other Side Bistro and Bar. He wants to create an upscale venue for the local LGBT community to eat and drink, something that has been missing since Blu Jeans closed in 2002.

Back in February, the Ripcord bar at 115 N. Erie and the connecting Blush Show Bar were sold by owner Terry Hymore. New management is now in place until all the legalities are finalized and the new managers take ownership. Major changes are underway to revamp and rename both bars as they remain gay establishments.

On March 29, Blush threw a farewell party ending a four year run as Toledo's premier drag club. It was announced at the closing of Blush that the new name will be Legends Showclub and it will continue on as a drag performer venue.

New TVs have been added allowing video for the performers as well as special TV and movie nights. Once a month they will offer Racy, Raunchy Drag Queen Bingo with all proceeds going to local charity. A new selection of draft craft beers and margaritas have been added as well. Legends Showclub opened to the public on Thursday, April 10.

Now that Blush has been revamped into Legends, the new management will focus on transforming Ripcord into a new bar named Mojo. The next phase will concentrate on the patio, giving it a facelift just in time for summer. Both bars will receive new fronts giving them a curb appeal that they lacked. In midsummer they plan to close the Ripcord side and start a heavy renovation to update the dark and outdated bar.

With the mainstream acceptance of LGBT people, gay bars not only in Toledo but around the world are slowly vanishing from a culture that once heavily depended on them as the only social outlet. A sluggish economy, tighter DUI laws and smoking bans have hurt the gay bar scene. The onset of the Internet, cell phones, and social media have left gay bars in a slump. Young gays and lesbians today feel less threatened going into straight bars with allies and socializing beyond the gay bar scene.

Toledo currently has two other bars serving the LGBT community. Bretz at 2012 Adams St. opened in 1987 and is Toledo's oldest gay bar. R House at 5534 Secor in West Toledo opened in 1995 and operates seven days a week with live shows, DJ, strippers and patio.

The Uptown bar in Bowling Green is gay every Tuesday night, with drag performances.

Toledo gay bars peaked with a record number in the early 1970s. Many have come and gone over the years including Caesar's, Open Closet, Box Office, Philcoff's, Bourbon Street Showbar, Key West, Scaramouche, Old Plantation, Silver Slipper, Westgate Lounge, Joshua's, Gay Pussy Cat, Adams Town Club, Pendelum, Copacabana, Twilight Zone, Club 1901, Blendz, Club Distractions, Warehouse, Club Escape, Blu Jeans, Hooterville, Ivanhoe, Rustler, Club Bable'on, Fascenations, Madison Bistro, Showboat Bar, Scenic, Camelot, Adventure Lounge, Casa Mia, Celebrity Lounge, Swing City U.S.A, Saharan Club, Lenny's Other Side, and the very short-lived Adamz Lounge that opened last year and closed within three months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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