Benjy Sarlin profiles the gay sports bar market segment, leading off with Nellie’s here in DC which has a very straight-friendly vibe and plenty of straight customers. In some ways, though, I think the more interesting issue, explored deeper in the piece, is how do gay bars stay adequately “gay” in an increasingly tolerant culture? It seems especially hard to pull off in a sports bar context:
Boxers in Manhattan is named for its trademark shirtless bartenders (too many of whom, patrons complain, are straight). The musclebound servers in bright red underwear function as eye candy, but they might be necessary if only to signal to walk-ins that they are, in fact, in a gay bar. When I stop by on a Sunday evening to catch some of the Steelers-Chiefs game, I find the patrons mostly indistinguishable from straight frat boys right up until the moment they start making out. Backward baseball caps, faded sports shirts, and sneakers are the norm. As far as decorations go, a decal of the bar’s trademark cartoon Bulldog mascot and a signed Tiki Barber poster near the pool table are pretty much it.
Musclebound shirtless servers in bright red underwear should do the trick.