It’s been a long haul for the Baltimore Eagle but under new ownership, the historic gay bar is on the cusp of announcing its reopening.
“We still have inspections,” says Charles “Chuck” King, general manager. “If we’re not open for New Year’s Eve, we hope to be open within a couple of weeks after. I won’t know anything definitive until next week.”
The bar at 2022 N. Charles St. closed in 2012 following the death of its owner, Richard Richardson. The Eagle was purchased by Charles and Ian Parrish in 2013 and a major renovation and construction effort (about $1 million) began.
It’s slated to be a major hub with multiple bars, a restaurant, a leather and adult shop, a lounge, historic Baltimore gay leather items, event space and more. Look for updates at thebaltimoreeagle.com.
King arrived in Baltimore three-and-a-half years ago and thought it would be temporary but fell in love with the city.
The 44-year-old Milwaukee native lives in Owings Mills, Md., with husband, Greg. He enjoys Netflix, movies, Disney, traveling and hanging with friends in the leather community as well as charity work for LGBT causes in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out to friends since college and my dad was the hardest to tell. Made my mom do that. My mom was so easy. She woke me up the next morning and told me to look at the hot guy moving in next door.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
All of the men, women, bisexual and transgender persons who were brave enough to be out and proud when it was not safe.
What’s Baltimore’s best nightspot, past or present?
Well, I think when the Vault was open for a while, it was pretty cool. Of course the Hippo was ultimately iconic and it will always be missed.
Describe your dream wedding.
I’ve had it. Christmas wedding with family and friends, a beautiful dinner, cocktail reception, and then a massive party headlined by CeCe Peniston. It was the best wedding I’ve ever been to. We did the honeymoon a month before in Rome, Venice and Amsterdam.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
There are just so many. Climate change and fixing the disparities of this country in politics are on the top of my list.
What historical outcome would you change?
The past election. It was very hard to swallow, but I’m just hoping that I am blind to the possible positive outcomes that I am not seeing. Doubtful, but I am still hopeful.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Probably the Los Angeles Riots in 1992. I stood on top of my apartment off Sunset Boulevard, watched the riot gear-clad police march down the street, while the city burned in every direction in the distance. This was just after I watched a Silo Electronic store, (similar to Best Buy) get looted in broad daylight for over an hour without a police officer in sight. Big screen TV’s rolling down the street, boxed up VCRs, and tons of high-end electronic devices disappeared by the hands of greedy individuals. It was just a sight that I can never forget.
On what do you insist?
Being humane, simple manners and compassion.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
‘This is what a TON of stress and alcohol will do!’ (followed by a video posted of one of my friends Charles and my husband Greg doing a Meatloaf karaoke song. It was quite a train wreck.)
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Was it a Red Rubber Shirt?”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. Everything happens for a reason, including me being a proud homosexual!
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I don’t believe in a “God.” I believe we have been given energy by nature’s force and when we leave this world, we will experience things we cannot even conceive of. We learn, hopefully grow, and move on to become wiser each time we experience a new reality, whatever that may be.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
This sounds cliche, but please don’t ever give up. We are in a time where we cannot look away or turn our backs. There is just so much ignorance in the world and we need to be teachers, leaders, police and the ones who spread love. Love is so important.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My husband, stepdaughter and husband Matt, grandchildren, my mother, brother, father and a few friends. Please just don’t ever ask, cause that would not be good for my feet.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Well, stereotypes are all based in some sort of truth, including the ones that people classify me in. Am I annoyed? No, but I was when I was in my early 20s. I have realized that although there may be some truth to labels, people do so because they have too much time on their hands and only experience can make you realize all of us fall into one type or another, and that’s OK. It’s up to us to be the face of change, or accept that which we are. I have more important things to be annoyed about.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Well, I have many, but “Cloudburst” is on the top of my list. One of my all time absolute favorite gay movies is “Iron Ladies.” Such an amazing story that was based in reality.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Gathering at Thanksgiving. Go to Mexico or Canada or anywhere. It’s such a great time to travel to foreign places since they don’t celebrate this holiday like we do. Love family, but love to travel as well.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I don’t have any specific prize or trophy in mind, but I would always take an award for good sex.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
When you’re 18, you’re invincible. No matter what you may have known or have been told, it did not matter. You just have to experience life to be able to apply what you have actually learned through experience. That is the only thing that ultimately changes us for the better or worse.
Baltimore was just supposed to be a stopover for a couple of years. The plan was to stay here, and transition to moving back out west with my husband. The reality is that Baltimore has grown on us in ways we never expected. It’s gritty, blue collar, has old-school type neighborhoods, incredible food and so much potential that is now being realized by large corporations and real estate developers. Baltimore is now the place I call home. I am happy and proud to do so. I just wish it were easier to open a business here. If it were easier, I think there could be a lot more success stories in the city, and I hope the new mayor will truly help change that.