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EFN Lounge closes abruptly

D.C. gay bar’s last night was Monday; employees shocked

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EFN Lounge abruptly closed Monday, a week after its general manager departed. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Washington gay bar that had rebooted with a new name and concept 18 months ago closed abruptly Monday night, just a week after the departure of its general manager.

EFN Lounge and Motley Bar, located at 1318 Ninth Street, N.W., near the Convention Center, was a two-concept bar housed under one roof. Former Manager Bill Gray, who’s gay, said sales weren’t strong enough to keep the business afloat.

“We had Bear Happy Hour every Friday and that was amazing for revenue, but we realized that being open every day, we just couldn’t pull in the revenue we needed to sustain the building,” Gray said. “We tried multiple events. Some things worked, some didn’t. … We had utilities turned off and turned back on. It was just a real struggle financially.”

Employees were informed of the decision Monday night. Gay bartender Matt Bamford, who’d worked there four months and is Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2010, said the news came as a shock.

According to Bamford, assistant general manager Raven Cullen, who’s gay and had been managing the bar with Derrick Zann in Gray’s absence, informed him at about 8:30 p.m. Monday that the bar was closing. Bamford said he and the rest of the staff — several of whom were off but came immediately to the bar upon hearing the news — are angry.

“Company standard there was always two weeks notice if we wanted to leave,” Bamford said. “What they did to not just the staff but to the community at large is just unconscionable.”

Gay owners Tom McGuire and Adrian Massiah, who also work together as founder/president and chief operating officer respectively of WorkSpaces LLC, sent an e-mail Monday at 8:40 p.m. informing the staff of the closing.

“With loosing (sic) Bill as general manager combined with the very low sales we have been experiencing over the last few months, we have arrived at the very difficult decision that the bar must be closed,” McGuire said in the e-mail. “My apologies for the abrupt decision and short notice, but we really have no choice. This is the last thing I wanted to do. I wish you all the best moving forward.”

McGuire and Massiah did not immediately return Blade calls seeking comment.

Gray admited EFN Lounge was a tough endeavor and that he’d “checked out and burned out” in January. He also said he was tired of paying business expenses out of his own pocket. Gray noted a dispute about who should pay to settle a small claims lawsuit with a concert promoter who’d sued EFN was the final straw.

“By that point, the slightest disagreement would have made me resign,” said Gray, 34. “It had consumed all my life and I was starting to realize it wasn’t for me.”

McGuire said in the e-mail, “… we had to let Bill Gray go because of issues and circumstances which came to our attention just the week before last.” Gray said he left on his own volition and that he owns the rights to the EFN name and concept.

Bamford said there were days that were slow, but “others were slamming.” He’d never met McGuire or Massiah until Aug. 9 when they came to the bar, introduced themselves and informed the staff of Gray’s departure.

Another gay EFN bartender, Aaron Alexander, said in an e-mail, “I don’t have much to say on the matter. I’m still trying to figure things out myself.”

Bamford is concerned about the bar’s events — some community service oriented such as a condom packet campaign that was held at the upstairs Motley area for the last eight months. Some events have moved to Green Lantern. Local gay event promoter Jacob Pring started his Code and Poz parties at EFN but moved them to Green Lantern several months ago.

“Let’s see, I’m trying to keep this positive,” Pring said. “It worked well for awhile but eventually got to be a bad scenario.”

Gray said the name came as a lark during an extensive remodeling project.

“There was so much stress involved, I found myself constantly saying, ‘This fucking bar, I hate it,’” he said. “So we used that as the name, though technically it stood for Edgy Funky Neighborhood Lounge.”

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Samuel Bronkowitz

    August 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

  2. DC

    August 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Bill screwed over a lot of people. I am sad about the staff, but as far as Bill loosing his job…I could not be happier.

    • J.

      August 17, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      Bill was the only person who gave a damn about that place. It was bad management by the owners who did not know anything about the club business. It was in an odd location (the ghetto) and served a ghetto crowd most nights. The only thing saving it was Bear Night and Active Duty Thursdays.

      • Chris

        August 18, 2010 at 2:17 am

        Some of you girls come off with such the right names “THE GHETTO” Have you ever thought you moved to the ghetto???? You came to DC D.C didn’t ask you to come here! What a crock you are!

        • J.

          August 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm

          This makes no sense? So all of DC is a ghetto and should remain that way? Can you explain yourself better…

      • Chris

        August 18, 2010 at 2:20 am

        Oh and another thing “a ghetto crowd” I guess you’re referencing African Americans???? WOW YOU BETTER WERK Miss One. Isn’t our community such a luvin spoonfull group???? NOT!

    • steve

      August 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      nobody should ever be happy about someone loosing their job. loosing your job is the worst thing ever. it’s worse than loosing your wallet or loosing your phone. it’s horrible. oh, and learn how to spell, loser.

    • Justin

      August 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm

      dude… someone losing their job is hurtful enough.. but for you to rub it in thats just sad.. and it shows how much of a coward you are… he was the owners puppet pretty much and tried his hardest to make it a success.. but when they say what goes because they are the owners he has to do what he is told. and he didnt lose his job.. HE RESIGNED…

      • J.

        August 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm

        Thank You! If you knew the facts you would know he quit this sinking ship last week…it was the owners who closed this place down. They couldn’t run it without him…

  3. Steve

    August 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    How many times does a gay publication have to mention in on estory that each of the people mentioned in the story are gay? Overkill much?

    • Chris

      August 17, 2010 at 5:07 pm

      Completely agree!!

    • steve

      August 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      i agree.. “john smith, who is gay, said…” “the gay owner, who is gay, reports…” it’s as terrible as someone describing race when it has no bearing on the context.. “i was talking to this blacck guy about shoes the other day, and…” disgusting,

    • Mars

      August 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      Ha ha ha…I thought the same thing…”The gay homosexual owner who is dating a gay man…” Joey, are you having a bad day when you wrote this piece?

    • jeff

      August 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm

      It is kinda ridiculous to mention that everyone is gay. We can be post-gay here I think, hello, it’s a gay publication! We can maybe notate when people are not gay if/when its relevant to the story.

    • Ajae

      August 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm

      Steve, I had that same thought, as I read through this story.

  4. Terry

    August 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    The inexplicably unidentified , but well known “condom campaign”, has found a new home at Green Lantern as well. FUK!T 7-9pm on Tuesdays at GL.

  5. Tom

    August 17, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    How can anyone be shocked at this? If one of the owners can’t even spell correctly, how do they expect to run a business? ‘with loosing Bill as general manager…’

  6. Pavlos

    August 17, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I’m guessing they couldn’t afford to feed the bears pizza every week. That was an insane feeding frenzy LOL

    • Baltimore Dougie

      August 19, 2010 at 4:26 am

      Yeah, I guess they would have been better off catering twinks who refill their water bottles in the bathroom sink LOL

      • Dave

        August 20, 2010 at 3:37 pm

        What’s wrong with buying one highly over priced water bottle and refilling in it the bathroom?

  7. Tony

    August 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I think the author should have made it easy on himself and only identified those who are NOT gay in the article….which would have been exactly no one. So why did he feel the need to identify each and every person in it as gay? Who cares?

  8. Brian

    August 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I don’t see any real reason to have identified who is gay and not gay in this article. Its really distracting, and a tinge shameful. Are we to be concerned that gay people cannot run a profitable business or something? I hope this writing doesn’t follow any standard for reporting in our community.

  9. samuel nelson

    August 18, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    BARF

  10. Jaxon

    August 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I think it’s funny how when it was Be:Bar, all was good and business was great. Then, they went after a different theme, which was already being done, well I might add, by the Green Lantern. Bill should of known not to attack a ‘stronger bar’ and they should of stuck to what they knew: a Hip, martini-esq, dance-derived, twink inspired, all people welcome gay bar.

  11. Daddy

    September 25, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    It’s karma! Bill came in to the business with the idea he didn’t have to pay his vendors. The universe made him pay dearly!

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Bars & Parties

Blade’s summer closing party set for Sept. 17 in Rehoboth

Benefits journalism scholarship

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Rehoboth Beach Museum, Joe Maggio Realty, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

The Washington Blade’s 15-year tradition of hosting a summer kickoff party in Rehoboth Beach was disrupted due to COVID restrictions. In lieu of that May event, the Blade is hosting a summer closing party on Friday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at The Pines (56 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.). 

Tickets are $20, which includes two drinks and appetizers. The event benefits the Blade Foundation’s Steve Elkins Memorial Journalism Fellowship, a 12-week program in which an LGBTQ student journalist covers stories of interest to Delaware’s queer community each summer. 

All COVID safety protocols will be followed, including a requirement that attendees furnish proof of vaccination to gain entry. 

If you are unable to attend you can make a donation to the Blade Foundation at BladeFoundation.org. Sponsors of the event include Delmarva Power and The Pines.

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Bars & Parties

Rehoboth to close out summer with SunFest

Series of events to replace long-running Sundance due to pandemic

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This year’s Sundance in Rehoboth is renamed SunFest and will look different from this scene in 2019 due to the pandemic. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

SunFest will feature a week of live performances, dances, and a live auction, sponsored by non-profit LGBTQ+ center CAMP Rehoboth.

The weeklong festival runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5 and is a change from the annual SunDance that CAMP Rehoboth has sponsored since 1988. This transformation began last year when the event was forced to go digital due to the coronavirus and the in-person events scheduled this year are important, according to development director and co-coordinator of SunFest Anita Broccolino.

“We love that community feel and the in-person makes all the difference in the world for us. Not being able to do it last year just reminded everyone how important we all are to one another,” Broccolino said. “I think that bringing back these events this year is just huge for us and it will be extra celebratory as a result.”

The festival begins with a 5k race and online auction opening on Sunday. Monday night features a give-back event at Iron Hill Brewery while Tuesday’s agenda is still to be determined, said Broccolino. Diego’s will host a Studio 54 give-back dance party on Wednesday and Thursday is the Port 251 women’s give-back. 

Live performances featuring the Skivvies, Randy Harrison and Diane Huey are scheduled for Friday night and Jennifer Holiday will follow with a performance on Saturday night, both at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. The festival closes out Sunday with auction pick-ups and Fun in the Sand and Sun, according to the CAMP Rehoboth website.

This event is also important to the organization’s contributions to the community, said Broccolino.

“The essential services we provide for free to the community, which is a huge amount of health and wellness activities, as well as arts programming, a lot of youth programming and the community counts on us for those things. We never stopped during COVID, we made as much as we could virtual, but we took quite a hit not being able to raise those funds and awareness of the programs,” Broccolino said. “We invite the entire community to come celebrate with us and make it to Rehoboth Beach, and let’s make it joyful, and wonderful and make sure we’re living up to the standards of all the people who helped found CAMP Rehoboth and live up to their legacy and beyond.”

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Arts & Entertainment

Rehoboth Beach welcomes Christopher Peterson back

Drag legend to perform weekly beginning July 4

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Christopher Peterson, drag, gay news, Washington Blade
Drag legend Christopher Peterson. (Photo courtesy Peterson)

Christopher Peterson will celebrate 25 years of performing his brilliant show EYECONS when he brings it back to Rehoboth Beach this summer. He will be at Clear Space Theatre every Saturday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. from July 4 to Sept. 5.

I have seen the show a number of times over the years from when he performed at the Renegade showroom (youngsters may not remember the Renegade out on the highway) to now at the Clear Space Theatre, so I am biased in saying it is always worth the price of a ticket. In fact it is worth a lot more because Christopher is an amazing talent. In addition to his own show he can be seen in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” at Clear Space.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Christopher. He has lived in Key West, Fla., for years and performs there during the winter and when he isn’t booked around the country. Christopher told me he was born Moncton, New Brunswick but grew up in Halifax (actually Dartmouth across the harbor) Nova Scotia, Canada 58 years ago.

We talked about gay life today and I asked him when he came out and he responded: “in the womb.” He told me he always knew who he was even before he knew you could call it gay. He told me he was lucky and grew up in a family that always accepted him for who he was. I asked him if he was excited about coming back to Rehoboth and he told me he sometimes thought of this as his final ‘widow tour’ as it is his first time back at the beach since he lost the love of his life, James Mill, in September of 2019. They were together for 35 years and James was not only his partner in life but in business. Many in Rehoboth knew James and will miss seeing him at Christopher’s side. He was a beautiful man.

Christopher has been called North America’s greatest female impersonator and though I haven’t seen all of them, I have seen enough to thoroughly concur with that. He not only impersonate the characters, he seems to become them. He never lip-syncs but sings their songs and talks in their voice. Christopher once said his only vocal training was in high school and in church choirs but you would never know that when listening to him sing. Christopher also designs all of his own costumes and they are incredible. It’s amazing how quickly he can change from Marilyn Monroe and become Cher with just a new gown and new wig that he has stashed in the closet at the side of the stage. The transformation is mesmerizing.

Over the years he has impersonated so many iconic women, including Marilyn Monroe, Carol Channing, Madonna, Joan Rivers, Reba McEntire, Bette Midler, Tina Turner, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Cher, Bette Davis, and Lucille Ball. He will add a new character once in a while if he feels comfortable having tried them out — one being Lady Gaga.

I asked him if he has a favorite character and he said, “That’s like asking me if I have a favorite child. These are all my children and they each represent something special to me.” He said, “as an example Streisand is the voice and Garland is the heart.” I remember he was once quoted as saying Judy Garland is his favorite to do and since he told me she represents the heart it didn’t surprise me as Christopher has a big heart. He often saves her for the end of the show and when you see her you leave wanting more.

I asked Christopher about the weirdest thing that ever happened during his show. He told me the story about an evening during the show, when he talks with an audience member, he leaned over the stage and began to chat with a table on the right of the stage and asked an older gentleman, Christopher called him Mary, how he liked the show. After saying he loved it the next thing Christopher saw was Mary keeling over. Turns out he had a heart attack. Christopher said he told the audience there would be a pause in the show and asked if there was a doctor in the house. One came forward and attended to the man and called 911. The gentleman seemed to recover and after they took him out on a stretcher the show went on. Christopher said this has happened more than once at his shows. Maybe it’s the excitement.

I asked him if any of the women he impersonates have been to see the show and was surprised when he said no. I would think any of those still alive would be honored to see how Christopher does them and shows them off so well.

This will be an exciting summer in Rehoboth and Christopher is prepared for visitors to come to the show and still follow any restrictions in effect for the pandemic. The theater has said it will continue to abide by all COVID restrictions in order to ensure the safety of both the actors and the audience. Clear Space Theatre has been doing this all winter and doing it safely.

I urge anyone who has never seen Christopher Peterson to get your tickets early as anyone who has seen him will be buying tickets to his shows and you don’t want to miss this chance to have a great fun evening in the theater.

Christopher Peterson as Lucille Ball. (Photo courtesy Peterson)

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