Cornett: LGBT community welcomes Legends and Mojo, bids farewell to OUTSKiRTS, Ripcord, BlushWritten by Rick Cornett | | CountryConnection@toledofreepress.com
As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The Toledo LGBT community is undergoing some major changes within its social scene at three local bars.
Toledo’s only lesbian bar, OUTSKiRTS, will close for good May 17, leaving a void in Toledo and the surrounding area. The next closest lesbian bar is Stilettos, in Inkster, Mich. OUTSKiRTS opened July 19, 2008, on Laskey Road in the building that once housed Gilda’s lesbian bar. Gilda’s had a three-and-a-half year run before OUTSKiRTS moved in. In July of 2011 OUTSKiRTS moved to its current location at 5040 Lewis Ave. in West Toledo. Owners Lexi Staples and her mother, Johanna Staples, said they are proud of their six-year run with OUTSKiRTS but they are ready to move onto other ventures.
Lexi and her partner are planning to get married and want to have a baby this year. Recently, Lexi was hired by the Collingwood Arts Center as office manager and events coordinator and she still serves as the president for Toledo Pride Foundation and is director of Pride Center 419. Best of luck to Lexi as she continues to serve the local LGBT community with a spirit that is unmatched. We thank you for OUTSKiRTS and all the fun times that created many memories and friendships.
Back in February, the Ripcord bar at 115 N. Erie St. and connecting Blush Showbar were sold by owner Terry Hymore. New management is now in place until all the legalities are finalized and the new management takes ownership.
Major changes are underway to revamp and rename both bars as they remain gay establishments.
On March 29, Blush Showbar threw a farewell party ending its four-year run as Toledo’s only drag club. It was announced at the closing that the new name will be Legends Showclub and it will continue on as a drag performer venue.
Many exciting things are planned for this new contemporary club, which is upscale, inviting and warm. The club is decorated in hot pink against a black background, with all new tables with black leather padded seats, chrome accent lighting focused on the new stone bar top, new dressing rooms for the performers, newly remodeled restrooms and updated sound and lighting systems.
New bartenders Brent Rabie and J.R. Jones are young and energetic faces ready to welcome the new customers who will make this the premier drag venue in Northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The showclub also features new televisions, allowing video enhancement capabilities for the performers, club TV and movie nights plus a house DJ.
Once a month Legends will offer Racy, Raunchy Drag Queen Bingo with all proceeds going to a local charity. A new selection of draft craft beers and margaritas “on tap” have been added, plus specialty cocktails inspired by the legendary Marilyn Monroe. Legends Showclub opened to the public April 10 with a big grand opening weekend featuring entertainers from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” TV show. Legends will be open Thursday through Saturday evenings from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. with shows starting at 11 p.m. presenting national, regional and local drag entertainers. Sunday evenings will feature an early show at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. Reservations are accepted for large groups by calling (567) 315-8333 and there is usually no cover charge except for special events and fundraisers.
Now that Blush has been revamped into Legends, the new management will start to focus on transforming Ripcord into a new bar named Mojo. The next phase of the renovation will concentrate on the patio area, giving it a face-lift just in time for summer.
Both bars will receive new fronts, giving them much-needed curb appeal that they currently lack. By midsummer they plan to close the Ripcord side and start a heavy renovation to update the dark and outdated bar. Once completed, the new complex will be the hot spot in Toledo for the LGBT community and allies.
With growing mainstream acceptance of LGBT people, gay bars not only in Toledo but around the world are quickly vanishing from a culture that once heavily depended on them as their only social outlet with other LGBT people. A sluggish economy and smoking bans have hurt the gay bar scene. The Internet, cellphones and all the other social media outlets today have also contributed to the gay bar slump. Young gays and lesbians today feel less threatened going into straight bars with allies and socializing beyond the gay bar scene.
Besides Legends Showclub and Ripcord becoming Mojo, 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 still in operation. R House bar at 5534 Secor Road in West Toledo opened in 1995 and operates seven days a week.
Uptown in Bowling Green goes gay every Tuesday night with drag performances.
The number of Toledo gay bars peaked in the early 1970s and many have come and gone over the years, including Caesar’s, Box Office, Key West, Scaramouche, Old Plantation, Silver Slipper, Westgate Lounge, Joshua’s, Gay Pussy Cat, Pendulum, Scenic, Copacabana, Twilight Zone, Club 1901, Blendz, Club Distractions, Warehouse, Club Escape, Blu Jeans, Hooterville, Ivanhoe, Rustler, Club Bable’on, Fascination, Madison Bistro, Camelot, Seahorse and the very short-lived Adamz Lounge that opened last year and closed within three months.
Legends Showclub and Mojo will be a breath of fresh air for the local LGBT community and we welcome you! For the latest news on Legends Showclub and the progress of Mojo, follow them on Facebook.
Rick Cornett is a historian, activist and promoter of the Toledo LGBT community serving on the Holiday with Heart Charity and Toledo Pride committees.
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