There are legal problems for La Nueva Escuelita, the legendary drag and go-go bar near New York City's Time Square. The New York State Liquor Authority wants to pull its license after two incidents at the club. A hearing is today, reports the Daily News.
One happened July 15, when manager Lee Gordon, 40, was accused of punching a patron in the face as he was leaving the club. Gordon pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge and is going to trial next month. The second incident happened in September when a cop posing as an underage drinker was sold beer.
New Esquelita senior manager, Savyon Zabar, said in court papers that the SLA’s recommendation to cancel the club’s liquor and cabaret license in February is evidence of prejudice. He said the club, which opened in 1996, caters to mostly African-Americans and Latinos who are gay, transgendered or bisexual. "Minorities are no longer welcome on W. 39th St., as they do not fit into the gentrification plans of the city," Zabar said. Zabar said the board proved its bias by making the recommendation before Gordon’s case was resolved.
In the late '90's, I launched the House of Xavier's Glam Slam competition at La Escuelita which was held in NYC for ten years and then in London. This is sad news considering how much this venue has provided for queer minority arts. NYC once used to be such a wonderful place, not only for tourists, but for actual New Yorkers. It would truly be a drag to see this happen.
Escuelita is among the last of the big clubs around Times Square that feature Black and Latino drag shows, as well as dancers and go-go boys. A number of similar Times Square clubs such as Stella's and The Gaiety have closed in recent years. Escuelita is blocks away from the former location of Sally's Hideaway, which was THE spot for drag in the late 80s, early 90s.
So many Escuelita memories, from Angel Sheridan on Saturdays, Harmonica Sunbeam on Sundays, to the infamous Blatino Thursday parties. To be continued ...
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