Monday, February 16, 2009

THE HEAT IS ON

Many gay friends of mine who live in or hang out around the East Village have been discussing the recent arrests at Blue Door Video and other downtown gay porn shops, which led to a protest outside the mayor's residence this past weekend. If you haven't heard, undercover officers have been patrolling these shops, soliciting sex from patrons and then arresting them on the spot for "loitering with the purpose of prostituion." The NY Times ran a big piece about it on Saturday just in time for Valentine's Day.

What you may not have heard is that police have been raiding gay nightlife venues left and right, though a coordinated task force behind these efforts has yet to be uncovered. The Cock was given a hard slap on the risk, prompting the owner to post signs saying "No Sexual Activity Allowed: You Will Be Arrested" all over the club. Brighter-than-usual lighting was kept on at all times and a patrol person was hired to walk around and break up any sex acts he saw. Undercover cops were also present a few Fridays ago making sure that the go-go boys kept their clothes on and the patrons kept their pants on.

Phoenix Bar was visited by a rowdy team of policemen shortly after midnight last weekend, apparently for a "routine health inspection," though none of the 15 neighboring bars (Key Bar, Mug Bar, Drop Off Service, etc.) were given a similar inspection. Cops with flashlights quickly scared off a bulk of the patrons but had a hard time justifying the raid, since Phoenix was in tip top shape and met nearly all the health department requirements.

Even more appalling is this past weekend's raid on the Daniel Nardicio's Woodshop loft party in Chelsea, hosted in a private residence that should not be subject to any type of police visits without consent from the owner and/or host. Around 2am, a group of cops entered the party (apparently they were allowed in by the door person) and proceeded to scout around on the basis of an alleged noise complaint. The DJ was asked to produce an ID (???) and the party, one of very few that is legally allowed to continue beyond 4am, was shut down completely.

Though city officials have been willing to meet with gay activist groups to discuss the alarming arrests at adult shops, perhaps we should take this opportunity to also talk about the unnecessary pressure now being placed on gay nightlife.

2 comments:

Matthew LeBaron said...

This is ridiculous. I thought we were the ones actually out spending money. Way to shutter us into our homes for fear of arrest. What if people are making out? Is that allowed? I know they allow it at the straight bars.
Thanks for posting this.

rio dancing on sand from SFO said...

does the city have an Entertainment Commission, like the taxi cab commission, police commission, etc...

we do here and it helps....something to think about!