A night at Baltimore's new Grand Central

Published on July 31, 2003, 12:00am | Comments

Hearsay spends a night in Charm City at the newly refurbished Grand Central and finds 8,000 square feet of fun, fun, fun, plus a little late night teabagging down the street…

It has been eons since Hearsay had set clubbed feet in Baltimore. But last Friday night was one of the best Hearsay's had in nearly as long. The homespun residents prove the Charm City tag to be true, and you'll encounter none of the spin that afflicts Washingtonians. Baltimoreans, when asked, tell it like it is, warts, crabs and all. Now, don't worry none, hon, Hearsay's not thinking of transplanting to ole Ballmer -- but it's a nice place to visit, don't you agree? Hearsay's primary destination: Grand Central. Wow, what a place! It's bigger than a breadbox. It's bigger than two breadboxes. Hell, it's bigger than eight hundred three thousand forty two point seven breadboxes if Hearsay's Official Wonder Bread Box Slide Rule is correct. Scott “Ask Me About My Days In The Orioles Locker Room” Davies laughed at Hearsay's frequent wandering state. But you'd have to have been there several times -- or, like Davies, be an employee -- to know your way around the 8,000-plus square-feet, all tightly woven into two low-level buildings. And with eight rooms, each with its own bar, it's like eight times the fun of most bars. Wait a minute, you might say if you've ever before watering-holed at the wonderfully gay named intersection of Eager and Charles streets. Isn't there a small, Cheers-style, neighborhood-y bar with pool tables called Central Station pub at that location? Why yes, that would be the original bar, the first of the two buildings of which Hearsay speaks. Don “A Little Sin City, a Lot of Charm City” Davis has owned the pub for a dozen years. In February, he purchased the building that housed what was the hitching post next door, the Stagecoach, and poured $1 million dollars into the space to transform it into the hip-happening talk of the town, the biggest gay complex in the state of Mary-Land. Yep, bigger than the still-going-strong-after-all-these-years Hippo, just two shakes and a twist down Eager-Beaver Way.

Hearsay took in the old-school feel of the upstairs martini bar, with its Tiffany-inspired light fixtures and raucous aye-aye sailor bartender, John, who skipped to Cher -- literally. Next door resides the quiet piano bar, and betwixt lies the outdoor patio, offering an Oriole's-eye view of… the Hippo, a parking lot and, off in the distance, the big phallus that must be the reason the Mount Vernon neighborhood is gay central. Hearsay was quite dizzy by the time it stumbled upon the disco lounge, with its trendy (but not too trendy) lighting, hip (but not too hip) wavy metallic touches and a glass wall curved around the large (but not too large) dancefloor, where club manager Steve “Honest-to-Goodness” Henderson performed double duty as the resident DJ, working everybody into a “Friday Fever” frenzy.

The best part of it all, though, are the diner-style booths overlooking the dance floor, we're you can rest your weary butt, admire the scenery and strike up a conversation with that cute hair-hopper you spotted dancing. And here's the best part: you can actually hear what he's saying as well as the music a-playing. How novel! If only we could get some crabs serviced  -- oops, sorry -- if only we could get a little crabcake sandwich service here, Hearsay'd never eat anywhere else in B-more (with the exception of a long and meaty Pollock Johnny's every now and again). All the booths were taken by the time Hearsay pulled around. So Hearsay hopped on a stool at the bar and chatted up the best bartending team of the night, Ricky and Brian. But soon Hearsay got the bad-news-blues: As a recent grad of the celebrated Peabody School of Music just down the street, bass-playin' Brian leaves shortly for New York. So get on up and take a gander at him while you've got the chance -- a week or two. If you ask nicely he'll rip off his shirt and show you his well-plucked strings.

Did we mention the women in Baltimore? No, Hearsay doesn't just mean the unforgettable pretty Salem Cigarettes counter girls, handing out free packs of fags -- right in front of the cigarette-vending machine -- to any fag who signs their questionnaire. Nary a night goes by that fag hags aren't bemoaned in D.C. And rare is the sight of lesbians outside of strictly lesbian events and bars. Not so in Ballmer where lesbians -- gasp! -- mingle -- gasp! gasp! -- with their gay brethren of all races and ages -- gasp! gasp! wheeze! And fag hags are groped, not roped out of the club. Self-described fag hag Chana “Miss Personality” Colley was with her gaggle of gay gooses, Tom, Michael and Michael -- but that didn't scare away frisky gay Billy, who “always molests me,” Colley protested, not completely convincingly.

Hearsay was looking to get molested itself, so it asked around the question that surely no other visitor to Baltimore has ever thought to ask. Where can I get me some tea-bagging? (Oh, native son John “Pecker” Waters, what you have done for the town!) If the stranger you ask doesn't up and walk away, he'll likely roll his eyes before telling you to head down the street, take a left and follow the road as it curves, giving you the name, the exact location and exact time to go. What, you didn't think B-more boys would really be as fun as Waters makes them out to be? Indeed they are. And apparently now that B-more strippers can take it all off, well, there's a new pastime in town: helicoptering. It's not yet widely known, though, since it's not yet immortalized in film, so chances are the conversation will still revolve around tea and not flight. Such was the case with one super-colorful, multi-pierced bloke, who related to Hearsay the story of a Starbucks (Starbucks!) co-worker, fired (fired!) for taping a teabagging session in his hotel room (hotel room!). Waters couldn't make this stuff up if he tried…

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