David's Chicago Sexual Underground - 5/29/20

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Greetings P(r)icksters,

Still sitting here with an idle shot glass. Illinois just moved to Phase 3 on reopening which allows for some businesses to reopen, restaurants to serve outdoor seating. Phase 4 will permit fuller openings, indoor dining and bars to open with strict limits on the number of patrons we can have at one time. Here in Chicago, we will move to Phase 3 next week and hope, hope, hope Phase 4 by the end of June.

This down time has given us at Touche some time to tackle a few projects that would have been hard to do if we were open. The big job is refinishing the main bar. The bar in the front room has wooden cabinets and front with black counters and bar top. There is a nice wooden bar rail that runs the length of the bar but years of elbows and such have worn down the finish.

So we began a couple of weeks ago to remove the cabinet doors, sand them down, re-stain them and then polyurethane layers to keep them clean. This past week, we began the project of stripping off the old bar countertop and then sanding down the top and bar rail. Today we finish this process by cleaning up all the dust.

Next week it will be time to stain the wood rail, then the polyurethane and, last, install the new countertop. Trying to do this with the bar open would have been a nightmare. We would have had to do it in sections to be able to serve and add several more days to complete. Guess there is one good thing about being shut down.

Since this past Memorial Day weekend would have been IML weekend in Chicago, we hosted a Zoom leather party on Saturday. It was my first time doing something like this and it seemed to go fairly well. We had about 100 folks log in during the three hour event, with many hanging around all night. Being new to Zoom, I did not fully realize that folks could message each other or the whole group at the start and was concerned why folks were visible but not seeming engaged. It finally dawned on me that they were busy chatting with each other.

Lots of compliments, “glad you hosted this” and more let me know that it was a success. I’ll be planning more in the next few weeks while we wait to get the bar back open.

Right now, I am finalizing plans for when we do reopen. Guidelines for reopening will limit our capacity to 50 people at one time, so there goes any thoughts about big events. We will just focus our attention on safety procedures for when we have guests, keeping seats and counters sanitized, etc. But the big changes will be how we operate with limited crowds.

First of all, we will limit the space open for customers. Touche has the main bar in the front and our Club Room bar in the back. This area was originally a garage behind the building - an auto shop, so it is fairly large. Years ago before this space became Touche, the previous owner had connected the two buildings and built a bar in the old garage space.

When we reopen, we will not open this back bar, keeping the crowd to the main bar. That way the place won’t look deserted when the small crowd spreads out between the two bar spaces. Plus I can save on the A/C back there, now that summer is here. along with the coolers running to keep beer cold.

Another change will be the crowd itself. Before the shutdown, you could see that guys were already staying home as the virus spread, and our numbers were coming down. One question will be how many are ready to venture back out once we reopen. Less travel means less visitors, too. So we may be lucky to get 50 guests at one time.

A third change would operating at a 50 person limit. Much as I hate to admit it, some folks feel they can hang at a bar without spending a dime. Going back to our days with the Great Lakes Bears, we’d have a packed house and a line of guys waiting to get in to the wee hours. After the demise of the GLB and competing bars for the bear crowd, we no longer had lines outdoors but still did about the same bar ring. This told me we had guys taking up space inside that were not drinking, or “sucking ice” as we call it.

To make sure we can make enough sales to stay profitable, we may institute a drink minimum on weekends to ensure that if you are in the house, you are supporting the house. It’s a whole new world.

While I am figuring out when we open and what we will do for fun, go ahead and grab my P(r)ick this Week and make your own fun. It’s warming up so let’s enjoy the great outdoors this week. My first P(r)ick this week is Rangers from Surge Studio. Directed by Al Parker himself, this 1984 outdoor epic (shot in the Sierras) focuses on the exploits of the ever-vigilant, ever-patrolling park rangers (beefy, tattooed Chris West and lean Nick Rodgers) and the campers they come across.

Moving from the Sierras to northern California, my second P(r)ick this week is California Blue from 1983. The late, great cutie Scott O'Hara (the of the one time Biggest Dick in San Francisco) stars in and narrates this excellent little collection of sun-soaked scenes. This vintage gay porn movie is set in California, with beaches, redwood forests and the like, and it's definitely blue.

Enjoy a Bijou Classic to beat the stay-at-home blues (and beat something else).

David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com


Rangers images
Rangers (D00397) - On DVD and Streaming

California Blue images
California Blue (D01007) - On DVD and Streaming

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