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QUEERY: Charles King

The Baltimore Eagle general manager answers 20 gay questions

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Charles King, gay news, Washington Blade

Charles King (Photo courtesy of King)

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.

Why Baltimore?

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.

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Baltimore DJ on using music as a bridge to combat discrimination

Deezy brings high-energy show to the Admiral on Jan. 28

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DJ Deezy has hosted multiple events in D.C. and Baltimore. (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)

A Baltimore DJ will conclude a month of performances in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. clubs this Friday, Jan. 28, according to the artist’s management. DJ Deezy is set to perform at the Admiral in D.C. at 9 p.m. 

Since the year began, Deezy has hosted electric events at clubs such as Hawthorne DC, DuPont and the Baltimore Eagle Bar & Nightclub. 

The Washington Blade sat down with the DJ to discuss the course of her career. 

The beginning of DJ Deezy’s infatuation with music dates back to her childhood spent between her mother’s house in Baltimore City and her father’s house in the suburbs. 

In Baltimore, Deezy was exposed to the local rap and raw hip-hop scene that inspired her to embark on a rap career in high school. 

Concurrently, she was entrenched in Motown and classic rock by virtue of her singer, songwriter, and guitarist father Ron Daughton’s involvement in a classic rock band. He is a member of “The Dalton Gang” and was inducted into the Maryland Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2015.

“Before I embarked on my DJ journey, my father let me record ‘a little 16’ on his tape recorder,” said Deezy. “Eventually, he bought me a wireless microphone that I carried around with me to performances.”

Between her experience as a rapper and watching her father maneuver the classic rock music scene, Deezy acquired varying tastes in music that have influenced how she curates her sets today. 

She “specializes in open format vibes with spins from multiple genres including hip-hop, rap, circuit, and top 40s hits,” according to a summer 2021 press release from her management.

Deezy is also a proud member of the LGBTQ community — she identifies as a lesbian — and this also informs her approach to her work.

“I’m easily able to transition and rock the crowd because I can relate to many different backgrounds,” said Deezy. “I can DJ in places that are predominantly white, Black, or gay [and still do my job effortlessly].”

Centering community

Deezy values representation. Not only because she exists in a field dominated by men, but also because DJs who inhabit other identities aside from being men are less common in the industry. 

The scarcity of Black and lesbian DJs has prompted her to use her career as evidence that people who are different can attract audiences and succeed.

“I want to put us out there especially for Baltimore,” said Deezy. “I know that there’s Black lesbians out there doing the same thing as me, but why aren’t we getting [recognized]?”

In 2018, Deezy rented out a “Lez” lot at the Baltimore Pride block party where she set up a tent and played a set for the crowds tailgating around her. While entertaining them, she distributed her business cards — an act she believes yielded her the contact who eventually got her booked for a residency at the Baltimore Eagle.

While this was a step forward in her career, Deezy acknowledges that it wasn’t without challenges. She likened entering the Baltimore Eagle — traditionally a leather bar frequented predominantly by men —to navigating foreign territory. 

“When I first got there, I got funny looks,” she said. “There’s a lot of these guys who are like, ‘Why are you bringing a lesbian DJ to a gay bar?’”

But Deezy powered through her performance, lifted the crowd from its seats and “rocked the house [so that] no one will ever ask any questions again.” 

She admits that she’s an acquired taste but believes in her ability to play music infectious enough to draw anyone to the dance floor.  

“Feel how you want to feel about a Black lesbian DJ being in the gay bar,” said Deezy. “But music is a bridge that [will] connect us all, and you’ll forget about your original discrimination when you [experience] me.”

While Deezy has mostly performed in the DMV, she has also made appearances in Arizona where she hosted a family event and also in clubs in Atlanta and New York City. 

Her work has also attracted international attention and she was the cover star of  French publication Gmaro Magazine’s October 2021 issue

Looking to the future, Deezy’s goal is to be a tour DJ and play her sets around the world.

“I had a dream that Tamar Braxton approached me backstage at one of her concerts and asked me to be her tour DJ,” she said. “So, I’m manifesting this for myself.” 

In the meantime, Deezy will continue to liven up audiences in bars and clubs around the country while playing sets for musicians like Crystal Waters and RuPaul’s Drag Race celebrity drag queens like Alyssa Edwards, Plastique Tiara, La La Ri, Joey Jay and Eureka O’Hara — all of whom she has entertained alongside in the past. 

Outside the club, Deezy’s music can be heard in Shoe City where she created an eight-hour music mix split evenly between deep house and hip-hop and R&B. 

DJ Deezy (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)
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Rodriquez scores historic win at otherwise irrelevant Golden Globes

Award represents a major milestone for trans visibility

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Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, on right, and Billy Porter in 'Pose.' (Photo courtesy of FX)

HOLLYWOOD – Despite its continuing status as something of a pariah organization in Hollywood, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has managed to cling to relevance in the wake of last night’s behind-closed-doors presentation of its 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards by sole virtue of having bestowed the prize for “Best Leading Actress in a Television Series – Drama” on Michaela Jaé Rodriguez for her work in the final season of “Pose” – making her the first transgender performer to win a Golden Globe.

The ceremony took place as a private, no-press-or-audience event in which winners were revealed via a series of tweets from the Golden Globes Twitter account. No celebrities were present (not even the nominees or winners), although actress Jamie Lee Curtis participated by appearing in a video in which she pronounced her continuing loyalty to the HFPA – without mention of the  longstanding issues around diversity and ethical practices, revealed early in 2021 by a bombshell Los Angeles Times report, that have led to an nearly industry-wide boycott of the organization and its awards as well as the cancellation of the annual Golden Globes broadcast by NBC for the foreseeable future.

While the Golden Globes may have lost their luster for the time being, the award for Rodriquez represents a major milestone for trans visibility and inclusion in the traditionally transphobic entertainment industry, and for her part, the actress responded to news of her win with characteristic grace and good will.

Posting on her Instagram account, the 31-year old actress said: 

“OMG OMGGG!!!! @goldenglobes Wow! You talking about sickening birthday present! Thank you!

“This is the door that is going to Open the door for many more young talented individuals. They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS.

“To my young LGBTQAI babies WE ARE HERE the door is now open now reach the stars!!!!!”

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As You Are Bar and the importance of queer gathering spaces

New bar/restaurant poised to open in 2022

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As You Are Bar had a pop-up venue at Capital Pride's "Colorful Fest" block party in October. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than just a watering hole: As You Are Bar is set to be the city’s newest queer gathering place where patrons can spill tea over late-morning cappuccinos as easily as they can over late-night vodka-sodas.

Co-owners and founders Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike built on their extensive experience in the hospitality industry – including stints at several gay bars – to sign a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row, replacing what was previously District Soul Food and Banana Café. In a prime corner spot, they are seeking to bring together the disparate colors of the LGBTQ rainbow – but first must navigate the approval process (more on that later).

The duo decided on this Southeast neighborhood locale to increase accessibility for “the marginalized parts of our community,” they say, “bringing out the intersectionality inherent in the queer space.”

Northwest D.C., they explain, not only already has many gay bar options, but is also more difficult to get to for those who don’t live within walking distance. The Barracks Row location is right by a Metro stop, “reducing pay walls.” Plus, there, “we are able to find a neighborhood to bring in a queer presence that doesn’t exist today.”

McDaniel points out that the area has a deep queer bar history. Western bar Remington’s was once located in the area, and it’s a mere block from the former Phase 1, the longest-running lesbian bar, which was open from 1971-2015.

McDaniel and Pike hope that As You Are Bar will be an inclusive space that “welcomes anyone of any walk of life that will support, love, and celebrate the mission of queer culture. We want people of all ages, gender, sexual identity, as well as drinkers and non-drinkers, to have space.”

McDaniel (she/her) began her career at Apex in 2005 and was most recently the opening manager of ALOHO. Pike (she/they) was behind the bar and worked as security at ALOHO, where the two met.

Since leaving ALOHO earlier this year, they have pursued the As You Are Bar project, first by hosting virtual events during the pandemic, and now in this brick-and-mortar space. They expressed concern that receiving the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) liquor license approval and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, or ANC, approval will be a long and expensive process.

They have already received notice that some neighbors intend to protest As You Are Bar’s application for the “tavern” liquor license that ABRA grants to serve alcohol and allow for live entertainment (e.g. drag shows). They applied for the license on Nov. 12, and have no anticipated opening date, estimating at least six months. If ABRA and the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board give final approval, the local ANC 6B and nearby residents can no longer protest the license until the license comes up for renewal.

Until approval is given, they continue physical buildout (including soundproofing) and planning their offerings. If the license is approved, ABRA and the ABC Board can take action against As You Are Bar, like any bar, at any time if they violate the terms of the license or create a neighborhood disturbance that violates city laws such as the local noise ordinance.  In the kitchen, the duo snagged Chef Nina Love to develop the menu. Love will oversee café-style fare; look out for breakfast sandwiches making an appearance all the way until close. They will also have baked goods during the day.

McDaniel and Pike themselves will craft the bar menu. Importantly, they note, the coffee bar will also serve until close. There will be a full bar as well as a list of zero-proof cocktails. As with their sourcing, they hope to work with queer-, minority-, and women-owned businesses for everything not made in-house.

Flexible conceptually, they seek to grow with their customer base, allowing patrons to create the culture that they seek.

Their goal is to move the queer space away from a focus on alcohol consumption. From book clubs, to letter-writing, to shared workspaces, to dance parties, they seek an all-day, morning-to-night rhythm of youth, families, and adults to find a niche. “We want to shift the narrative of a furtive, secretive, dark gay space and hold it up to the light,” they say. “It’s a little like The Planet from the original L Word show,” they joke.

Pike notes that they plan on working closely with SMYAL, for example, to promote programming for youth. Weekend potential activities include lunch-and-learn sessions on Saturdays and festive Sunday brunches.

The café space, to be located on the first floor, will have coffeehouse-style sofas as well as workstations. A slim patio on 8th Street will hold about six tables.

Even as other queer bars have closed, they reinforce that the need is still present. “Yes, we can visit a café or bar, but we always need to have a place where we are 100 percent certain that we are safe, and that our security is paramount. Even as queer acceptance continues to grow, a dedicated queer space will always be necessary,” they say.

To get there, they continue to rally support of friends, neighbors, and leaders in ANC6B district; the ANC6B officials butted heads with District Soul Food, the previous restaurant in the space, over late-night noise and other complaints. McDaniel and Pike hope that once nearby residents and businesses understand the important contribution that As You Are Bar can make to the neighborhood, they will extend their support and allow the bar to open.

AYA, gay news, Washington Blade
Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel signed a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row. (Photo courtesy Pike and McDaniel)
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