You read here about how the HK bar Bull Moose Saloon decided to cater to a gay crowd, until the owner had a change of heart and banished them from the premises.
Well, Jake Levy, who was involved in the boite’s reimagining, just gave me the inside scoop, as it involved a friend of his who he’ll call “Blake” and the place’s owner, Dave Sheeran.
“Sheeran would give 50 percent of the revenue to Blake if he turned Bull Moose Saloon into a gay bar. The neighborhood had turned ‘gay’ and, noticing that business was failing, Sheeran thought it would be a lucrative idea.
“Blake immediately contacted me and we sat with various consultants and created a strategy to turn renovate the ‘Moose and round up a new gay crowd. Our agreement with Dave Sheeran was a year contract plus 50 percent split of profits. Blake would have full control in developing the new vibe. Blake and I invested thousands in renovations, sound systems, and promotion. We completed the feat in two weeks, completely renovating the space and implementing a marketing campaign that would make even the Obama administration envious.
“Our opening weekend was just in time for NYC Gay Pride and we were proud and happy at our accomplishment. Due to careful planning, our opening weekend had over 1,500 guests. Our idea was simple: a neighborhood bar where people of all walks of life could be what they want to be with no drama or stress.
“It worked, people loved it!
“Through the whole process, there were signs of anti-gay sentiment. In my gut, I was nauseated, but I thought I was dramatizing events. During the construction process, previous customers came in and threw gay slurs. I thought this would be a big step for the bar and did not deserve my attention.
“During our first weekend, we received a noise complaint and had papers served from the landlord. The letter also complained that we advertised dance and we had no cabaret license. We quickly sat to create a solution and decided to place volume limits and unplug a few speakers. The issue was solved.
“My alarm should have been raised when our gay flag we hung on the side of the building suddenly disappeared. I attributed the disappearance to the wind and poor knotting. Dave Sheeran even went as far as calling me, saying, ‘The boy in our ad campaign looked like shit’ and he doesn’t want a ‘fag’ near his logo at the front of his bar.
“At that point, I flipped on him and told him not to talk that way. I was shaking and could not talk. I passed the phone to Blake. I then called my partner, outraged, detailing the call with Dave Sheeran. At this point, I was shocked and almost ready to walk out. I had a great meeting with a consultant and decided the money was not worth the insult. I stayed for Blake’s investment, determined not to leave him in the middle of everything.
“Saturday morning on the 3rd of July, Blake arrived at the Bull Moose Saloon to a padlocked door. He called the porter and was told he was not going to be allowed in the building. He then called Dave Sheeran who told him we were no longer welcome, and Bull Moose was going back to being a straight venue.
“I thought he was just being dramatic. After all, we had an agreement; after all, we were officially hired and had already invested thousands. You can’t just throw people out? He first notified us of the reason: We were making too much noise. This mystified me because the place next door made double the amount of noise as we had.
“My mind was quickly running through the various scenarios that would result in the sudden end of this venture. I knew in my heart we had to do anything to keep it afloat. I would not stand by for my pride and allow my friend of years to end up in financial ruin. I told Blake we would turn the bar into a lounge and it would be a good solution for the building and everyone involved. At that point, I expected Dave Sheeran to back out of his ‘theatrics’ and agree to a proper solution. To my surprise, he notified Blake that ‘I just cant work with fags.’
“He reiterated we were not allowed to come in the building. I told Dave he had to figure out how to get the sound system out of the building as that was the largest expense. Dave would not allow him to recover the sound system. He had to make a friend say he rented the speakers to Bull Moose Saloon and would call the police if they would not hand over the speakers. As the movers took our sound system outside, they heard Dave Sheeran and his manager dropping gay slurs. We were thrown to the street like dogs and still feel like we are living a bad dream.”
I have a call in to Sheeran and will report on his response.