Monday, July 13, 2015


Patricia Highsmith at 21

Location: Macdougal Street, New York, New York, USA

Opened/Closed: 1930s-1940s

I have found exactly one reference to L's. That was in a December 2009 New York Times article on the lesbian novelist Patricia Highsmith. The article discusses a lot of the places where Highsmith used to go in the 1930s and 40s, when she lived in New York's Greenwich Village. A brief selection:

A few blocks east is Macdougal Street, the home of some of Highsmith’s other favorite, now extinct, hang-outs like the Jumble Shop, a Prohibition-era tearoom she and [Judy] Holliday (then Judy Tuvim) went to in high school and L’s, a lesbian bar where she would later troll for lovers. Macdougal is also where the cop Clarence Duhamel in “A Dog’s Ransom” stays with his girlfriend.

Where Macdougal meets Waverly Place stands the refurbished Washington Square Hotel, formerly the Hotel Earle, a seedy spot that both Highsmith and her mother often checked into when visiting New York later in life. It was the scene of many of Highsmith’s seductions and the inspiration for her short story “Notes From a Respectable Cockroach.”

I'm wondering, though, if "L's" wasn't a shorthand for Louis' Luncheon at 116 MacDougal Street. From an NYC Landmarks Commission report on the "20th Century Lesbian Presence" in South Village Historic District, Manhattan:

By the 1920s, the South Village emerged as one of the first neighborhoods in New York that allowed, and gradually accepted, an open gay and lesbian presence. Eve Addams’ Tearoom at 129 MacDougal Street was a popular after-theater club run in 1925-26 by Polish-Jewish lesbian emigre Eva Kotchever (Czlotcheber), with a sign that read "Men are admitted but not welcome." Convicted of "obscenity" (for Lesbian Love, a collection of her short stories) and disorderly conduct, she was deported. Later popular lesbian bars were: Louis’ Luncheon (1930s-40s), 116 MacDougal Street; Tony Pastor’s Downtown (1939-67), 130 West 3rd Street, which was raided on morals charges in 1944 for permitting lesbians to "loiter" on the premises, but survived with mob backing until the State Liquor Authority revoked its license in 1967; jazz club Swing Rendevous (c. 1940-65), 117 MacDougal Street; Ernie’s Restaurant/ Three Ring Circus (c. 1940-62), 76 West 3rd Street; Mona’s (c. late 1940s-early 1950s), 135 West 3rd Street, later The Purple Onion (c. 1965-72); Pony Stable Inn (c. late 1940s-1968), 150 West 4th Street, remembered by African-American lesbian poet Audre Lorde in Zami; and Bonnie & Clyde’s (c. 1972-81), 82 West 3rd Street.
I believe all these other places have been posted on before--except for Louis' Luncheon.

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