Voice Choice

From the Village Voice’s Best Of NYC 2007:

Best Place For Gay Men Of A Certain Bent To Smoke, Cruise, And Maybe Even Get Their Wescos Polished – The Eagle

Despite AIDS, changing fashions in sex and sexuality, and the West Side real-estate boom that continues to devastate area nightlife, crowds of he-men still flock to New York’s sole serious butch bar, The Eagle, to drink, drug, pose, shoot pool, tease the bootblack, buy a cock ring or other sundry, and perhaps even find love—or its approximation. If you missed the recent screenings of William Friedkin’s boneheaded, vastly entertaining film Cruising (1980) and/or are too young to remember the original Eagle (or the Lure, or the Mineshaft), then this establishment is the closest you’ll likely get to the rampant machismo and the leather/S&M culture that for a time defined the meatpacking district— and, by extension, a generation of gay men looking for role models other than fluttery florists and Franklin Pangborn. Saturday night is when the wannabe cops, truckers, cowboys, and other tough-guy fantasists gather in full force here; it’s particularly festive on holidays and special-events weekends, such as the recent Mr. Eagle competition. A fetish dress code (leather/rubber, uniforms, jockstraps, gas masks, etc.) is strictly enforced on Thursday nights, and early evenings on Sundays are often bearish and lively—especially after the bar-sponsored rugby matches and softball home games. The real attraction, though, is the Eagle’s roof deck: a zillion square feet of landscaped decking with lots of bench seating and seductive nooks. There’s a full bar, plus a stunning view of the massive, streamlined Starrett-Lehigh building just down the block.

To drink and drug? Out of the dozens of gay bars in Manhattan, I’d put the Eagle far down the list of drug hotspots. The only thing I ever see being sniffed at the Eagle is armpits. Although in the second floor bathroom one does perceive the slight, but persistent, essence of poppers.