A popular West Village gay bar in New York City has been embroiled in a headline-making scandal as of late, causing a beloved drag queen emcee to call it quits live onstage, the bar’s manager to resign and the bar’s owner to issue an apology and claim that going forward his bar staff would be taking racial sensitivity training. Here’s what went down at The Monster gay bar in NYC.
The scandal involving The Monster gay bar on Grove Street in the West Village occurred right before and during a party called Manster, which was planned to feature drag performances and go-go dancers, as it typical at the bar. Popular drag queens Honey Davenport and FiFi DuBois were hosting the event — which took place on Saturday, Sept. 29 — along with DJ Steve Sidewalk.
Before the event there was some back-and-forth over the flyer that had been designed for the party. The flyer featured two shirtless men of color (the night’s go-go dancers) along with Davenport and DuBois.
After that flyer was sent to Italo Lopez, manager of The Monster gay bar, Lopez responded, “It look [sic] like we are promoting black night … people [could] get the wrong idea and is not good for the businesses [sic].” Lopez also referenced the two black men on the flyer, saying, “[I need] a beautiful man.”
Check out the flyer for Manster at The Monster gay bar in NYC:
After being shown the text messages from Lopez, Honey Davenport claims she attempted to reach out to the bar’s owner, Charlie Rice, but received no reply before the Manster event. So she took matters into her own hands. Watch the video below (or click here):
In the video above Honey Davenport tells the crowd about what happened, and she tears up while speaking about the six years she’s been throwing the event and the sacrifices she’s made for it. “I can no longer do it,” she says. “If you don’t want my people at the party, I won’t be here.”
Then Davenport gives you the ultimate mic-drop moment — literally — before walking offstage to applause.
Since the Manster event, another local queen, Emi Grate, canceled a show at The Monster gay bar as a show of solidarity with Honey Davenport. The producer of Manster, Mitch Ferrino (who Lopez’s initial text messages about the flyer were sent to, and who alerted Davenport to them) pulled another event of his, LookQueen, from The Monster as well.
Two days after what went down at The Monster gay bar, owner Charlie Rice took to Facebook to offer a response on behalf of the bar. He apologized for what happened — specifically the language used in the text message from Lopez — and said that what occurred would be treated as a learning moment. He also noted, “This week we will schedule an anti-bias training course for our staff to put us back on the right path.”
Rice also mentioned that he had accepted the resignation of general manager Lopez.
But many in the local NYC queer community aren’t completely satisfied with the bar’s response and the outcome of the recent scandal. Rice’s Facebook post has many commenters saying they don’t believe the response and remorse are genuine, and Ferrino has claimed Rice’s initial reaction was to blame him, Ferrino, for initially sharing Lopez’s text messages with Davenport. Rice reportedly said that if he’s forced to close down The Monster gay bar, he would “remember this moment in time.”
To which Ferrino responded to Rice, “The moment you blamed me instead of the man who did wrong. … Yes. [I will] remember it well.”
Rice has since given an interview to NewNowNext in which he paints the entire incident as “a smear campaign by a disgruntled employee” (Ferrino) and has chalked the entire incident up to a language problem because Italo Lopez is an “immigrant” who “doesn’t have the best command of the language.” Rice posits Lopez had no racist intention in his comments about the Manster flyer.
“At 67, I never dreamed I’d have to re-experience the bullying past and what is akin to assassination of character. And to ‘tar and feather’ me and demand I sell the bar is grossly wrong,” Rice has said in a statement.
This recent incident at The Monster gay bar is sadly not uncommon, and blatant racism in locales purported to be safe spaces for queer people is unfortunately all too common. And if a scandal like this can go down in New York City, one of the most racially, ethnically and culturally diverse spots in the world, it truly can — and does — happen anywhere.