April 16, 2015 at 12:01 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Jim Graham’s next act: A strip club
Jim Graham, Rock Hard Sundays, The House, Mark Guenther, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay former Council member Jim Graham, on right, is promoting a new male strip club event. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay former D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who lost his re-election bid just over a year ago, is helping the owner of a female nude dance club on Georgia Avenue transform the adult nightclub every Sunday night into a male strip club catering to a gay clientele.

In a development likely to surprise his former Council colleagues, Graham said he’s working as special events director for The House at 3530 Georgia Ave., N.W., which has operated at that location since 1979.

Graham said he will promote the Sunday night gay male stripper venue as well as a weekly Thursday night event at the club featuring male strippers catering to a straight female clientele.

“I’ve told people I’m in the adult entertainment industry,” Graham said while giving a reporter and photographer from the Washington Blade a tour of The House on Tuesday afternoon before it opened for business.

The club’s new gay stripper venue, called Rock Hard Sunday, is scheduled to have its grand opening Sunday night, April 19.

Graham said the opening night event will also serve as a fundraiser for Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBT-oriented primary care medical services organization for which Graham served as executive director before being elected to the City Council.

“Don Blanchon, the director, is coming,” said Graham. “But there’s not going to be any speeches. He’s coming to thank people who come to support it and that will be that,” he said. “We’re going to have fun…And the dancers are hot.”

Graham said he’s working part-time for The House in the capacity of an independent contractor. He said he’s also doing part-time work as a consultant for a non-profit organization called Clean and Sober, which is an alcohol and substance abuse recovery program.

“I didn’t explore any full-time jobs with the government ultimately because I decided I didn’t want to be anywhere near the political vortex,” Graham told the Blade. “I’ve done that. End of story.”

In a decision to explore something new and enjoyable, Graham said he approached The House owner Darrell Allen and his staff with the idea of starting a gay night at the club.

“I knew these guys because this is in Ward 1 of course,” Graham said. “And I said to the owner, what about some gay nights because we have nothing like this in Northwest Washington.”

Graham noted that the only gay male strip club remaining in D.C., Secrets, is in the Buzzard’s Point section of Southwest Washington.

In his new role as promoter, Graham is quick to point out that The House is located in the rapidly changing Park View neighborhood just two blocks from the Georgia Avenue Metro Station and in close proximity to neighborhoods where many LGBT people now live. Among them are Columbia Heights, Petworth, Mount Pleasant, and, just a little farther away, the U Street corridor, Graham said.

“We’re considering having valet parking, but I don’t think we’ll need it,” he said. “I think many of our customers will walk here.”

Graham also noted that for the Rock Hard Sunday event, the bartenders and waiters, among other staff people, will be gay. He said Mark Guenther, former director of the Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, is helping him promote the Sunday night venue on social media.

“It’s a gay night,” said Graham. “It’s not going to be a straight club pretending to be gay. It’s going to be gay, and I’m going to make sure of it.”

In a takeoff on his well-known use of bowties as a fashion statement during his years as a Council member, Graham said all of the nude male dancers will be wearing one of the hundreds of bowties he has in his wardrobe.

“They are going to put them on and at some point they will dispose of the bow ties in the audience,” said Graham. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The House, Jim Graham, gay news, Washington Blade

The House (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Heroic Hal

    “Graham also noted that for the Rock Hard Sunday event, the bartenders and waiters, among other staff people, will be gay.” They’re going to discriminate in employment on the basis of sexual orientation? In gay strip clubs you can’t even assume the strippers are gay, so why would they feel this is even necessary, as long as, of course, the staff is at least extremely gay-nonchalant?

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