Nightlife :: Special Events

BARchive Extra: The Eagle’s First Opening

by Jim Provenzano
Friday Apr 26, 2013
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If the recent re-opening to the San Francisco Eagle Tavern seemed like a big deal, compare it to the bar’s original opening in 1981.

As reported in columns by the dearly departed Mister Marcus Hernandez, the Bay Area Reporter’s leather and bar gossip columnist for decades, like the re-opening, the bar’s first premiere endured delays and rumors of openings, from New Year’s Eve 1980 to its eventual opening in April 1981.

Let’s let Mister Marcus’ vintage columns offer the dish on the leatherazzi:

From Southern Scandals, Dec. 4, 1980:

"Bobby Ulyvari took on the designing of the bar and the new poster (wait’ll you see it!) after David Nelson vanished into thin air. The contractor and $5000 also vanished... The new SF Eagle promises to be a bright new star in the galaxy of the already-fabled Folsom Street Campus. The whole area waits with bated breath..."

From Marcus’ March 26, 1981 column:

"The long-awaited SF Eagle liquor bar will open its doors April 8. Finishing touches are being put on the interior and the big patio which will be one of the main features of the bar.

"Dick Dearborn and Steve Fabus have expended their considerable talents to make the music just right. Throw in the hunkiest set of bartenders ever to grace the planks, and you have an award-winning combination... Quite possibly, the new SF Eagle will redefine Folsom in the 80s."

And from Marcus’s April 23, 1981 column:

Spring is everywhere! One of the best places you’ll find to savor these balmy nights is the patio on the new SF Eagle. I don’t know where all these humpy leather men come from. It seems as if more dudes of the leather fraternity come out of the woodwork with the proliferation of genuine leather facilities. The opening of the Eagle two weeks ago was electrifying.

"One can overlook the opening night jitters with all those little things that go wrong. One cannot overlook the smell of man sweat, or new and old leather (they are distinctively different), the glittering chains, crushed leather caps, polished boots, pins, buttons, the old men and the young men all INTO leather and not just IN leather. All sharing that mystique, that special ambiance that only leather men share Not leather on top, and Adidas on the bottom. That’s for pseudo-leather bars.

"The Eagle has landed in San Francisco. The atmosphere is the kind that if somebody says to you, "Hey boy, want your butt fucked?" you’ll most likely respond, "Yes, sir!"

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