Carl Paladino’s Out at Home: Was Landlord to Swinging Gay Bars


If this election season ever ends, we are going to have a new name for political candidates who bring marvelous baggage waiting to be unpacked by reporters: “He’s a Paladino,” will be universally understood shorthand for a politician with a rich array of untold stories.

The latest contribution to this treasure trove is in today’s Daily News where Rich Schapiro and Greg Smith bring us their fabulous take of how the Republican candidate for governor, who spent the last few days bemoaning Speedo-grinding homos, owned a building in downtown Buffalo with a popular gay bar run by Paladino’s son William.

The bar was called Cobalt, and from 2004 to 2005, which you have to admit is within the easy recall range of even an angry right-wing 64-year-old, it was the place to be for buff Buffalonians. Even the hometown paper, The Buffalo News, dubbed it the “Way Gay” spot in a 2005 review, adding that it boasted all those necessary gay bar add-ons, including “queens, techno, the cocktails, the kind of gyration normally confined to Manhattan.”

We’re way sorry we missed it. The Schapiro-Smith team also bring us the sad news that some joy-killer snuffed “Cobalt” after about a year, changing its name to “Tantra” — quelle type de drag — and switching its fashion mode to the dominant perversion, heterosexuality.

“The way they did it was really horrible,” ex-barkeep Kevin Van Wagner tells the News. “They told us we were no longer going to be a gay bar, that we were no longer going to have jobs…They got rid of all us gay people.”

This move naturally created some very bad karma which came back to haunt the owners when a Tantra patron was stabbed in the back at the bar in March, 2006. The News also tells us that there was even a second gay bar paying rent to Paladino, the more laid-back sounding “Buddies II.” (The News offers a photo of a crowded bar that looks as though it may have catered mostly to swinging Buffalo Bills fans.) It was run by a company called Queen City Entertainment, a name that also might catch your eye if you were cashing its rent checks every month.

Paladino’s usually loquacious campaign manager, Michael Caputo, declined comment on the candidate’s gay club business. As for the Buffalo Bulldog himself, he spent much of yesterday trying to roll back some of his anti-gay diatribes. He didn’t mean to offend anyone, Paladino said. We think he still means it about the Speedos, though.