Allen Weber and "Timmi" Weber (Allen's mother)
Wow, there is so little on what was the hottest gay destination in America in the '70s, Atlantic City, NJ, before the casinos arrived in 1978 and changed everything, I thought I would start a thread here and share some memories.
The Chester was one of the hottest gay clubs in the 1970s, I believe it opened in the early '70s and closed in the early '80s. The Chester was a full service hotel with the disco on the lower lower level, the outdoor "puka lani" pool and tiki bar, and a very high-end restaurant called the "Front Porch" that was opened later and become one of the most popular restaurants in Atlantic City for a few years (I used to work there!).
The manager that worked for the owner and his mother "Teppi" for years name was Bob Wanger, he was a very talented guy who did all of the design and organizing of the theme events The Chester was known for. It was the gay first bar I ever entered and remember hearing great music like "San Francisco" by the Village People and "I feel love" by Donna Summer, the big gay anthems of the Summer of '77. They used to have some great drag shows, I remember the "Salt Water Tuffies" (Sandy Beach, Tinsel Garland, and others).
Other memories of the New York Ave strip... The were many, many bars restaurants and shops on the beach block and along "Snake Alley" that ran between New York and Kentucky Aves. The was "The Rendevous Lounge", "The Brass Rail" (actually a block away, so one of the last remaining until fairly recently), "The Lark", and the "M & M" which was another big resort that included a full service hotel, disco, piano bar, cabaret theatre (anyone remember the production of "Rebirth of an Old Queen"?), and bathhouse, and "Louise's" which was a speakeasy back in the 1920s.
The "Chez" opened in 1977 and took the city by storm, but was quickly taken over and became a predominantly straight, though gay friendly disco rivaling Studio 54 in NY, also another club was located next to the Chez which I can't remember the name of which was more popular in the mid-80's. The were many restaurants including the famous "Mama Motts", "The Cafe", "The Front Porch", and the infamous "Lyle's Coffee Shop" which was an institution on the Ave for years. On the weekends during the Summer there would be throngs of people on the street going from club to club, and during the day there was a huge gay beach in front of the Claridge Hotel at Park Place where everyone would hang out. During the Winter the locals would be the only ones there, awaiting the return of all of the tourists.
During the early 1980s the whole street was virtually torn down for casino speculation and turned into a huge parking lot, Allen went on and bought a place out in Mays Landing called "Bottoms Up" that was popular and remained until the early '90s, and the "Brass Rail" remained a popular club until closing in the mid-2000s.
There was such a rich history here that has gone virtually undocumented and forgotten, really such a shame... Hopefully this will generate some memories and people will post some photos and keep the memory of this rich slice of gay history alive.
Photo below sent in by AC-JCE
Description: Would be nice to have a photo of the glory days if anyone has one, but sadly here is a photo of the Chester just before being torn down in the early 1990s.
Photos below from George Lotter.
Description: File #1 - Front Porch dishwasher Patrick with owner Allan Werber at Great Adventure. File #2 - Bartender Frank gets a little help from his friends. File #3 - Robin, my fellow Front Porch cook with Patrick, dishwasher.
Photos below from Robert Hitchen.
Description: Sandy Beach and Mable Redtop today Tuffies at the Chester Mabel, Sandy, and Kelly Peters (who replaced Tanya Treetop).
Photo below from Joey Meehan.
Description: This is a picture of me when I lived on Snake Alley.
Please note that in the interest of fairness, the names of DJs and staff are listed in alphabetical order.
Click to Add Your Photos to this Page!
Added by AC-JCE
sandy beach workin 1300Locust in 2009
just to night i fould out that in marr 2009 sandy beach was well and working at a place call canac 1300 ? near camac st ?
I remember that song also! There's a book titled "Boardwalk of Dreams" that has a chapter on New York Ave that references Dee Dee and that song, Lyle's, and Frank's Extra Dry if anyone is interested. I posted 3 photos yesterday but they still are not on the site.
did not rember it you post but now i rember the shows diid get to much was at work but do rember
Dee Dee Lewis Performed (It Should Have Been Me) at the Lark iNN by the Boardwalk. I would often be working as a Bartendar and it was a wild scene. She would throw ashtrays and break them and also throw chairs. She would be dressed in a Wedding gown and the shows would be at midnight and 3 am. After a few weeks she was no longer allowed to have the ashtrays, because we did not have any left. LOL
DD Louis was the performer who sang the song "I'm gay" he also did drag shows and he also wrote that song it was amazing I saw him sing it at the Chez Paree. DD had another drag anthemcalled" it should've been me "oh my God it would bring the house down! DD Lewis where are you?
i didnot get to the m & m to muchbut in early day bartender was chuck he had dark hair his lover was chuck and work at the rev bar
Franks Extra Dry, what a great name! "Muzzie" was what they used to call Lyle's mom, I have a great picture of her that I will try to hunt down and post. Does anyone remember a lounge singer that used to perform at the Front Porch restaurant on Sat nights, her name was Vie Tabach? A rather large women who's big song was "Am I Blue", she was so so great- very much like Lainie Kazan. Used to sing in the back room where there was a small bar. The memories just keep coming back! Also, there was a drag performer who used to perform at the M&M Disco who's anthem was a song titled "I'm Gay", I still remember people getting so emotional when she would sing that song during the late 70's, my how far we have progressed since then.
the boy that work at Lyles got marr and i was told they had 2 or 3 children ihave not seen him in years may gays lived in the apts over Lyles d j troy is one i know of the bulding was own by pat he also own the chester when allen only rented but alter allen bought it
Franks Extra Dry was the name of the bar. Great name. It felt like walking back into time going in there, classic waitresses with big hair and the menu was tasty and cheap! My lover and I used to eat there often. A fried jumbo shrimp dinner was $4.95. It was on New York Avenue between Atlantic and Pacific. Also used to eat breakfast at Lyles, on the beach block near pacific across the street from the Rendezvous Lounge. Lyle and her mother were always there, along with a gal named Trish and a cute guy who's name escapes me, he had brown hair and a mustache. Lyle had a signed photo of Marilyn Monroe hung on the wall behind the counter! She was a huge fan, and I heard years later that she was buried with that picture....
Love the new pic. I also lived on snake alley for 2 seasons. Loved the outdoor showers
Does anyone remember the name of an old school bar
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I think your talking about franks?? very good food
Does anyone remember the name of an old school bar, not gay but gay friendly, on New York Ave between Atlantic and Pacific that had a great dining room in the back that used to have really cheap but good food? I think the place had been there since the 40's or 50's but finally closed down maybe in the early to mid 80's. Loved going there in the late 70's and remember they used to serve a "newlywed cake roll", which was kind of like a yodel, devils food cake but with ice cream. I miss that place.
louis sat at the door well in to her 90's
then her bartender philip or paul was the owner some years later is when david hunt was owner he sold it and it was torn down
Oh, so many, many changes. It has been so interesting to read about them all. When I worked at the restaurant that was across from the Chester In, there were only two bars and they were all the way at the corner up by the boardwalk. This has been such an enjoyable place to learn many ways the street changed over the years. When did the Chester turn into a full amenities place to stay?
Thank You for creating this page! I have the best memories of coming out on NY Ave, the notorious gay and lesbian street, moly the brave dare to walk. As kids we made fun of it but as soon as I had my chance
, I went and WoW ! First stop, The Lark, dancing all nite with drag queens surfer boys and hippie fags. I was sixteen in 1976 and I promptly ran away to live here. In no time I started working in the Sub Shop , and when the bars let out, we were jammed with customers ! Nice times. That following year I worked at The After Dark in the Grand Central Resort. Club Baths, Studio Five ( formerly the M+M lounge disco) and a complete hotel on Kentucky Ave. Owned by Charles Schultz . I lived at the Fraternity House, my housemates were Bobby Den And Willow Hendrix. I had a lovely cover picture on the Seagull magazine, and also waited tables at the Saratoga during shows from the Salt Water Tuffies, featuring Tanya Tree Tops ! Of course all of us kids worked in our speedos! Gorgeous guys were always dancing and keeping me busy....NEw York Ave was a dream land, the community was awesome and fun, when I was a baby twink I would do it all over again. To many stories to share.....The Chester Inn had a great show with Tinsel Garland and the Fabulous Fakes, and of course legendary DJs and DiscO music ripping all nite long......Memories...xo
Thanks Doug. I already spoke to a reference librarian at the library and will try to get there to review what they have. I live in PA so I hv to plan a trip down. But it's worth it if I can find some good material to post !
Entertainer's club.. as louis was a showgirl at the Chez and i would think many of her freinds were gay
she open a bar near her work and her frends from work would come and so we have 1st gay bar in a c
maybe they have some information or photos
main library image
MAIN LIBRARY ADDRESS AND HOURS
1 North Tennessee Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Monday-Wednesday Thursday-Saturday Sunday
9:30 AM - 8 PM 9:30 AM - 5 PM 12 - 5 PM
The Gay weekly was called the Seagul and it gave all the activities of the Bars that were comming up. It also included interesting pictures. It was Written by Joe and Devon. wonderful people.
Thanks George L for that info. I believe u are right. There was no separate gay edition. Everything was published together in one magazine. After reading your post I also ckd the AC Wkly website and then called their office. The rep gv me the same info u posted abt their archives going only to 2001 but she also gv me some leads as to where I might find some additional info. Soooo I am ckg them out! I am hoping to b able to locate photos, articles, etc regarding the Chester and NY Ave to add to this site. I am keeping my fingers crossed because it wld b great to see some additional photos and to post them to preserve some of that fabulous history !!!
The weekly magazine related to bars and restaurants was called "Whoot" back in the 70s and 80s. I think it then became "Atlantic City Weekly". I was not able to find any archives for "Whoot", and the "Atlantic City Weekly" archives only date back to 2001. I don't remember there being a separate gay edition of "Whoot", but I could be wrong. It really would be nice to see some photos from way back when. I am disappointed that I couldn't find any old photos of my own other than the few I previously posted from the Great Adventure trip sponsored by Allan Werber and The Chester.
To JE : on Sept 5 Anthony posted that he is in process of mkg a documentary on NY Ave and provided contact info. That's better than a book! To GeorgeA: you ended with a rather depressing thought. But maybe that's why we all found this site, to help preserve the memories of our fabulous little gay ghetto in AC.
Back in the day I remember a small AC Magazine that had pics of events at the bars and on the beach, ads for future events etc. I had kept one copy for years because Al, my bartender friend from the Chester, was in a photo tkn inside the disco with about 10 other employees. I remember they all had their Chester t shirts on. Since digital photos did not exist then I wld assume there were negatives of all those photos. If anyone remembers who published that mag I wld b glad to follow up and see if any of those negatives still exist.
Very interesting comments about Louis's bar. When I went there she would sit inside of the door as you come in an ogle the young men. Actually i have started writing a Book about gay Atlantic City, but it is going very slowly. I would like to get more pictures and stories. I worked there for 3 seasons in the mid 70's. Like Mary Hopkens sang, "Those were the days my friend"
I just reviewed what I had commented on earlier in the day concerning New York Avenue and realized I may have not had all the brain cells working properly...I meant to say Men were in fear of being exposed rather than what I had commented on. I am sure that is why Louise's was tucked very cozy around the corner on Westminster Avenue ( Snake Alley ) away from the general public in those early years. and as to why New York Avenue ended up being the gay street. I also recall comments made about Louise's as the Wrinkle Room of A.C. For those like myself in my very young years, I enjoyed the company of more mature sophisticated gentlemen and found the long narrow bar to be a delight..........When you walked in the door and made a sharp right you felt like you were on the run way, as you passed a line of tables on each side filled with mature men enjoying the eye candy. As you made your way to the bar at the end of the room...The oil portrait of a white haired Louise Mack hung in a gold leaf frame with a picture light above. it..I remember looking at it each time I went into her bar. Her demeanor appeared to be that of no nonsense, but also a pleasant smile welcomed you . Surrounded by white tinsel and miniature red lights circling the entire ceiling .. I agree that someone should truly write a book of the history of Atlantic City Gay Life. Unfortunately as for photo's.... I think a few may exist of the beach parties ,, but I doubt many are around showing the buildings and bars themselves. Recollections will soon be gone as we all age . It will be as abandoned and vacant as New York Avenue is today.
Some really great stories here, someone needs to write a book! A shame there are not more photos.
That is an interesting question as to why New York Avenue was picked as the "gay" street of Atlantic City. I have often thought and wondered about that myself.
Louise's was supposedly the first gay bar in A.C which dated back to the twenties or thirties. It was on the corner of Westminster Avenue and hidden in (Snake Alley) away from the general public. Men where not in fear of being exposed., In time... as gay life slowly took it's steps forward others started appearing on a larger street which would have been New York Avenue. Since you had to travel on to get to Louise's makes perfect sense. The Deville Hotel which housed the M&M on Delaware and the Fleetwood on Tennessee were directly behind most of the popular bars on New York. Not as popular, but it allowed the gay population to stay within the boundaries Another theory is that because New York is very theatrical and heavily populated by the gay community that it was easier for people to recognize it's association to that name. and the fact that New York Avenue is almost in the center of the city Just a thought.......But I think my thought on Louise's is more accurate.
how and why was New York Ave designated the street for gays to visit or stay. Can anyone answer this question. It must have been for quite sometime since it was way back in the 60's. Allen ran the Chester Inn at that time. I truly enjoyed my entire summer experience living there. Allen was so nice to me and so were the many weekend visitors. There were very few people that stayed through the week, but the weekends were booming!
I came out in Atlantic City in 1972. I went there to work for the summer. I worked at a hot dog stand and the guys at the hot dog stand told me, "Whatever you do, do NOT go to New York Avenue." So I went that evening of course. It was my first gay bar experience. It is where I came out. And it was amazing. I always tell people my coming out was not painful at all because I met these wonderful people right from the start.
Some names I remember are David, he was a hairdresser who did drag at the bar just to the left as you entered NY Ave. There was also Billy, who owned a hair salon. These two were the first gay people I ever met. They threw a birthday party for me on my 19th birthday and it was wonderful.
Then I met Ralph and Jason and they were two very sexy guys who showed me all about gay life, and we also had a wonderful time together.
I didn't recall the names of these bars, and it is wonderful to remember them. That street was so amazing. So friendly. Such a lot of life going on.
I too did a search on Google Maps to see what it was like now and wow. Totally different. It would have been nice to preserve some of it. If anyone has photos from that time, I would love to see them.
I lived in one of those old rooming houses with a bunch of friends, and really, it was so authentically Bohemian and so gay. Wonderful memories.
was on line and fould Rendezvous it now use the name babe or babes it a straght strip bar so it look like the only bar on n y ave ?
I think the small hotel across from the chester was holidat house & spruce there was a small parking lot
across from the chester was Holiday House
someone talked about hotel on st james i think this is it OLD WORLD, WOOD-FRAME HOTELS LONG FORGOTTEN, BUT NOT LOST, THE BRUNSWICK HOTEL AND THE TOTEM HOTEL, ST. JAMES PLACE, ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY
when i was a kid we came to a c a few times my dad would allways pick a place near a pipe that had water come out to wash your feet it was were gay beach is 1st time i whent to gay beach and see the pipe i ??? what i thought about my dad
and a few yearrs later we were in washington d c and he had me sit on a bench across from the FBI with brother & sister and he whwnt for a drink years later i was in the same bar with a frend it was a gay bar
1st time i was on the ave is almost 50 years i think i was 14 or 15 years old
george next to Rio Grande was jackson hotel were the fort pit was now theres a cond. is photo of chester
on the alley are about4 or5 houses the photo not allways up to date i was on line and found may old postcard for a c doug
I just typed in 146 S. New York Avenue which was the former address of the Rio Grande Hotel on the Corner of New York Avenue and Westminster Avenue or better known as Snake Alley. This hotel was destroyed by fire early around Memorial Day 1973 or 74. I actually have a pic of the hotel after the fire as I was on New York Avenue shortly after. My point being...I clicked on the satellite view and was shocked to see everything totally gone New York Avenue to Pacific is now just parking lots. I knew most of it was gone, but I guess it was just to see it from that view made me realize a part of my life is no longer their....Everything is said to happen for a reason as it had been in this case. It truly is a shame that the legacy on what was a true gay summer resort during the seventies will never truly be known by future g
in photo of chester on right side of photo is small part of a bulding this is were vals was 1967 and befor
Val’s Bar vs. Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control was argued before the N.J. Supreme Court September 11 and 12, 1967, and decided November 6th, 1967.
found out the bar that was in parking garge was vals it closed about 1967 and allen weber bought the linces and moved it to the chester inn
the only gay hotel or bar in a c is the ocean house on ocean ave a guest house every other thing is gone a lot of empty lots
thanks for the memories when i 1st worked at the chester allen w grand mother work the desk with his mother dont rember if it was that year or next but frank hicks came from washing d c and rented the hotel next door to the parking lot were the pool was many years thanks
allen would sit by the doors with boby jones allen k. [at the time he had a taxicab
THANKS For all the great stories
forgot when i was of the ave the bulding that was the rev bar was also there most of a c is just gone
Louise's now gone last owner was david hunt for a long time he was own the deck house with lee
at the end of the alley now gone last time i was there only 4or 5 house left on the alley
Doug, I have not been there in a long time. I might run by there Thurs or Fri this week since a friend is coming in town. Where is a good spot to go now in AC?
the last time i was on the ave the buldings for the Saratoga &Chez Paree, were still there only other bulding was one that had nartin's rest. in it 1968 dont know if they were open or not about 2 or 3 years ago?
George, yeah, we have those memories and NOW technology, we have it all man...at 52, I can say that guys like us know how to live life and those coming up yearn for what we have....so, we got it. :)
Thanks Ted for your kind words .....I agree those were the days you actually made face to face contact with people ,unlike today. And as you said....Those day unfortunately are gone. But I have those great memories I will take to my grave.... lol
What is where the Chester Inn use to be?
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just a dirt lot
Thanks, George, that was really a cool story. I remember well the days long gone by when you could be out at a bar all night, having fun, then find your way to a place for breakfast...eventually to the beach to sleep it off............fun times, long, long, gone. I think we will see a resurgence in real meetings, real friendships as people become more and more disillusioned with the internet "community" In those days, we really made it happen, we really lived.
The first bar you came to after exiting the boardwalk on the left side was The Lark which in fact was pretty much an after beach bar. It was small, but many guys went directly to it after a day on the beach. It had two levels on seating along the window on alcohol soaked carpeting if you chose to sit .lol.......
After about 6 pm it basically had a few people drifting in and out . but not much of a crowd unless a drag show was happening in the later evening hours. The bar above it was the Ramrod, which was to be a leather bar, but in all honestly all the times I paid it a visit, it never appeared to be to busy.. I recall walking up New York Avenue early on a Saturday or Sunday morning , heading to Lyle's for coffee. The sun just peeking through and as you walked up the street towards the beach you had a smell of the ocean , mixed with stale liquor, cigarette smoke, and Pine Sol from the early morning floor cleanings.. That was forty years ago . and I remember it like yesterday...
Thanks, I do not remember that name at all, The Lark, I am trying to remember, it must have been around 1987. The bar was at the end of NY right before the boardwalk ramp, but over on the other alley street.....white stucco building? I was only there a few times when I was living in Ocean City...It was a nice crowd, but the end days of AC. Saratoga was torn down, I think Rendouvous was there, but they did not open until later at night....there was a huge parking lot there where I could park. By 1987, plenty of parking right there. Sometimes they had it chained off.
What was the hotel behind The Saratoga, sorta behind and to the right...closer to the boardwalk? Like at the end of that next alley street over? I stayed there one night.
Just to let you guys know the bar at the end of New York avenue was the Lark. I was a bartender there for a season. It was a cool bar for after the beach and also late night Drag shows were held there.
Dee Dee Lewis was the main attraction. She would do a wedding song (It Should have Been Me) I loved it she would throw glass ash trays and break them.
doug | Sep 29, 2014 | 7:52 am
ted the samall bar at theramp ny ave was the lark inn and upstairs was the loft randy was bartender
the lark was a shot and beer bar befor it whent gay
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*** Thanks, Doug, I do not remember much about that bar other than in the late 80's it was the only car left. I would go in and sit and talk to a few people. Seemed very sleepy.
ted the samall bar at theramp ny ave was the lark inn and upstairs was the loft randy was bartender
the lark was a shot and beer bar befor it whent gay
I had another thought about Atlantic City and mentioned it to somebody who remembered it, too. Do you recall when Caesars Casino had the live Roman Warrior models standing on the boardwalk trying to get people to go into the casino? That was so hot. I probably walked by then like a hundred times to check them out. Long before cell phones or digital cameras and only the brave would snap a photo. Besides, nobody would carry around a Polaroid Point and Shoot camera back then. Also, there was a small bar at the end of NY AVE right before the boardwalk on the right side? I cannot remember its name, but it might have actually been on the next street over with its back entrance to NYC. It operated a lot longer than the Saratoga bar -it was just a place to have a drink and hang out. I think once Bottoms Up opened, many of us never ventured out to Atlantic City since we had a good local bar in the burbs. What is the bar they have now on Rt. 30 in Hammonton? Is it the Bus Stop?
i just got a email from a c no dates but the person said frank hicks died years ago
I used to work at the Chester Lounge and Hotel ("We Pamper") in 1975 over the summer while attending PSU. Dated an Ice Capades skater that summer. Allan was interesting, he loved to stir s***. I remember "Fat" Frank as the manager. Frank died later that year while going to IHOP of a heart attack. Frank was slightly smaller than Allan which was not small (300 lbs plus). Frank had a house he would rent rooms to 18-25 year old guys over the summer. I had a huge crush on Tommy Martin who worked at the bar at the end of the street and lived with Tinsel Garland. Wonderful era. I used to visit until 1978 when at that time a bar/disco had opened with a Club Bath a block or two away. Funny for an entire summer in AC I think I was sunning on the beach maybe 2-3 times. Also, great drags shows at the club across the street, lots of Shirley Bassey. Many French Canadians on weekends from Quebec. At a small club at the corner near beach was Zsa Zsa (a holocaust survivor). What an era.
The first time I was to NY Avenue was in 1985 when I was on leave in the service. I remember walking down New York After passed The Saratoga Bar in the afternoon and guys whistling and hooting at me from the outside deck. In those days, the gay beach was in front of Bally's, people would just say the gay beach in front of Bally's. The Rendezvous "sp" was mostly a pick up bar, but I liked it better than the disco bars. There was the other bars on that snake avenue...like The Brass Rail and etc. I remember behind the Saratoga there was a hotel which actually was on the next street over. Do you remember Bottoms Up in Mays Landing across from Atlantic Community Collge? We used to dance there a lot. I would always dance to Noel Pagan and Silent Morning as well as Corey Hart. Good times. I have said again and again if they may Atlantic City a gay resort, all the business will come back in town. In seems like everything went down hill when the gay bars closed.
Made a mistake in the post befor this about the widened steps...lounge area was to the left and if you turned right at the top of the stepsister where the steps that went to the different floors of the hotel. Wish Alan was still with us to see if what I recall about this is true...even though I am sure it is.
I had talked earlier about a big front porch that went all across the front of the second floor. Someone stated it was closed in th create a restuarant. As I look at the picture of the Chester picture on this site, and I look it appears to me there was never any addition put on the building as all of the building materials appear to be the same. I remember the office Was on the right side on the street level and right beside it was a wide staircase that widened at the top. If you turned left at the top of the staircase there was a large room with sofas, large lounge chairs and a television, there was also a back wall with rows of pay phones...long before cell phones. You had to go through this room to go onto the front porch. Once you came up the huge staircase and looked left there were more stairs to go up to the other floors. I am wondering if the restuarant was built where the large TV room was? I just cannot see any new construction where the big porch was located ...I can vividly remember running down the steps each day to begin my job at the restuarant across the street. Talk about convince...how much closer can one live to go to and from work!
Great stories. I am in the process of making a documentary on 1970 New York Avenue. If anyone would like to talk to me about the project please feel free to contact me at email@example.com Its a story that must be told!
i rember bob annie most of the time tsome year are foggie
one one of the sites some one said about another bob with his dog a yokie
I started going to the Chester in 1977, and the bartenders that I remember were Mike S., Chris P., Frank H., among others. I didn't start working there until 1980, both in the restaurant and behind the bar. By the way, that is definitely NOT Allan in the photo with Mabel; that is the one and only Sandy Beach! Thanks for all the great Salt Water Tuffies shows, Bobby H!
I used to love the equis also. I was from dc but got down to Philly a lot. Did any of You remember me, I was the big muscular guy with dark hair and a mustache. I would often wear bib overhauls without a shirt underneath. I worked at the Chester, Rendevous, and Lark inn (bar at thr boardwalk. loved those days
Alan Kachin was the owner of Equus in Philadelphia. I had the pleasure of working both at the Chester in Atlantic City and Equus in Philly. Both places were at the top of their games, and working at each was a blast. Both Allan Werber and Alan Kachin took good care of their employees. Bob "Annie" was also sometimes the maitre'd at The Front Porch Restaurant when Jim Bell wasn't acting in that capacity. Such great memories of those places and wonderful people! To see more about Equus: http://www.discomusic.com/clubs-more/10937_0_6_0_C/
think about i when to he north about fall of 73 and return about75
ed i worked the the front desk most of the time
sorry that was before my time lol I was a bartender at the chester middle 70's
ed it was in the paRKING GARAGE. bulding but was gone befor the chester open that were alan go his license
I did not remember any bar on the corner near Lyles. It was just a car paRKING GARAGE. IN THE 70's
Lyle's, dose anyone known name of bar just up the street from lyle later it was a car rent office? back in late 60's
in photos i think is alan w with mabel the only time alan got dressed
who was much thinner than Allen he was allen k in later days he was owner of equs in philia [A
been built. I agree with others about Allen being a wonderful guy. Does anyone know about the Allen who was much thinner than Allen who also worked there? thinner allen open a bar in philia callefd equs?
he past anumber of year ago
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gus's later was moma motts for many years run by bille mott
next to chester was small hotel call bell?some thing
the dorm room end about the time the bar open
MAMA MIA'S ? I think your think of mama roses? it was next to rev. bar
yes it wasquestion of where they had Christmas in Aug. that was probably the Rendevous,
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i use to come to new york ave from baltimore with 5 of my friends all packed in my purple dart swinger. does anyone remember a guy , joe cappachone? he was from philly but moved up to a.c. and lived with a girl named debby, who was ruby red lips dresser and assistant. i worked at dirty ednas as a bartender the back bar and my shift was 2am to 8am. jack was the manager at the time 1974. i remember he use to smoke a pack of cigs in like 5 mins and chew on the ends of them. if any body knows joe please let me know
I used to love to go to Kornblaughs at 6 am for breakfast.
No, the spruce was on the same side as the Chester, there were 2 hotels side by side. As for the question of where they had Christmas in Aug. that was probably the Rendevous, owned by Jerry Vatale. I believe I remember the guy you called Bob Annie. Those were the days my friend.
After reading Ed L"s comment on the Spruce Hotel It came back to me, but I think it was across the street from the Chester. and up the street closer to the ocean . I am still banging my head to try and remember the hotel on the right side of the Chester if you are looking at it straight ahead. I remember it had steps going up to the lobby , and a few steps to a landing then a staircase going to the left to the next floor...As stated previously, I remember the Carroll being to the left . Sometimes it is just a shame that the years have effected some of the memories. If anyone else by chance remembers the hotel's name please advise.....The Deville keeps coming to me as the it's name, but that was the name of the hotel that housed the M&M lounge and bar on Delaware Avenue.
has anyone any photos of the Chester Inn. from any time until it closed? I thought that the deli at the corner was called Kornbluth's but see it iS KORNBLAU'S. THERE WAS ALSO A N OLDER MAN ON THE STREET CALLED BOB ANNIE DRESSED AS A GREEN SANTA AND OFFERED PLATTERS OF FINGER FOOD TO CUSTOMERS IN THE BAR OPPOSITE .... WAS IT THE CHEZ PARIS OR MORE LIKELY MAMA MIA'S ?
WHO WAS VERY FUNNY THIN WORE LONG SHORTS AND GOOD LOAFERS BALD HEAD AND GLASSES AND HAD A YANKEE DRAWL.CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST WHEN JUNIOR MARY
Also, Alan was a great guy to work for. I had a lot of fun at the Chester and on New York avenue in general.
Love all the comments. I was a bartendar at the
Chester for several years in the middle 70's. I was the bodybuilder type who wore bib overhauls with no shirt if anybody remembers,. lol A hotel down from the Chester was the Spruce.
Since NY Ave is no longer...where is the gay location? also, Michael the young man from Ireland. Does or did Ireland have some sort of summer places to work and AC was one of them? I ask because there were two girls from Ireland who worked at waitresses at the same place I did. I am sure they told me...but too long ago to remember. As you can tell, I really enjoy the site, especially the old pic. Of the C. inn. just wish there were more...come on someone has to have more...would love to see changes both inside and out...or do I want to remember it as it was when I spent my summer there...many people came there in 1969, there has to be pictures...I always regret I never took any!
Thanks George A! The info you posted is really jogging my memory! I remember the white tinsel garland and red mini lights in Louise's. However, we rarely went in. It catered to the "older" crowd ( to which I now belong)! LOL. And I also remember going thru Snake Alley to get to the M&M although the Chester was always my favorite. The photos on this site are great too. If anyone has any additional photos it would be awesome to see them as well. It would be great to see a photo of the pool area or inside the disco. I remember seeing photos back in the day. They were taken for the little local AC magazine that was published back then. It would be nice to see some of them if they still exist. I remember one specifically of the Chester bartenders. My friend Albert was in it. It would be greatly appreciated, if anyone has access to them , to see them added to this site!
To answer the questions as to what the names of the hotels on either side of the Chester Inn were . The Carroll which was the closest to the ocean If your looking straight at the Chester was the hotel on the left. I do not remember the name of the one on the right but I believe it started with the letter D. The story I was always told about the gay beach in front of the Claridge came to be that the dome at the top of the building was shaped liked the head of a p**** which was true and that was how everyone knew where the gay beach was located... I did an earlier post indicated that my coming out was the result of a hotel fire close to Memorial Day 1973 or 74 at the corner of New York Avenue and Westminster Avenue ( Snake Alley) which was the Rio Grande which I could not recall at the time of my posting. As far as I can recall the Lark was the first bar on the left side which also housed the Ramrod leather bar upstairs followed by Sugar and Spice and Dirty Edna's coming down the ramp just before Snake Alley . then a parking lot The Carroll, Lyle's, and the Chester . That is pretty much my recollection of the order. The Deville Hotel on Kentucky housed the M&M and a quaint Piano bar. The Fleetwood Hotel on Tennessee on the opposite side of New York was run by a charming couple Joel & Arlene which also catered to the gay community. We entered the M&M from Snake Alley. Louise's Entertainers club was right around the corner on Snake Alley and I remember many , many window and porch boxes of cascading petunia's along the short and narrow snake alley. A portrait of Louise Mack herself under a picture light hung in the bar with white tinsel garland with red miniature Christmas lights circling the room...a lot of polyester pants suits and big hair ,International Male hot pants, Daisy Dukes, bikini's and tight tight apparel were everywhere... Those were the days my friends and beautiful memories made forever
What a wonderful walk down memory lane...for me it was about different memories. so many things changed in your era of New York Ave. The people were the same, the atmosphere was different. There were only 2 restuarants on the street. Gus' where I worked and a deli on the corner. There were only 2 bars on the street, and they were up at the boardwalk corner. I was not 21, but I begged Alan to just take me to see the drag queens...I would not drink. He would say to me on many occasions, "Absolutely not." On each side of the Chester Inn there was a hotel, what were the names of them. I am sorry you missed the relaxing time of sitting on the second floor porch, just rocking away. I also remember running up and down the stairs before and after work each day. My room was on the second floor. I do not remember any maid service, but there had to be some...the hotel was immaculate and I always remember a clean room and bed. This site really is a walk down memory lane...my memories going back a lot farther than yours! I am sorry I always ask questions but I want to remove the fog of my memories.
Thank you for some of the questions I asked. Was Kornblaus deli torn down also? Wow, the Chester really made a great many improvements. My husband, me and a couple of friends went down to AC many years ago...at that time Allen was very anxious to show us the new disco that had been built. I agree with others about Allen being a wonderful guy. Does anyone know about the Allen who was much thinner than Allen who also worked there? Times were so much more peaceful and laid back when I was there that Allen had no need to have a dog sitting with him. I like many of you would like to relive my summer there. It was actually my first experience at being completely independent.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to Allan and his Mom. May they RIP ! They provided an awesome venue which included the fabulous disco, resteraunt ,hotel and pool for the gay community at the same time when Anita Bryant and others were trying to abolish the few rights we had. Obviously his mom believed her son and others like him deserved to enjoy life as much as the straight community , and provided that opportunity for us. RIP !
Also, I think it was very un-common for a small hotel, like the Chester, in AC to even HAVE a pool back in the day! Leave it to the gays to b so creative ! If I remember correctly the pool was small but adequate and "kidney" shaped. I also remember, and it sounds tacky now, but it was fine at the time, the area around the pool and bar area was covered with green outdoor carpeting. I also remember Al, my bartender friend, taking me to what I believe was the top floor of the Chester to a "group" shower room. I also remember the shower had a window that had a great view to the ocean. That was a LONG time ago !
Many fabulous times were INDEED had on the Puka Lanai terrace! I had a blast tending bar by the pool there in the summer of 1980. The diner in question was most likely "Lyle's", right next door to the Chester, lovingly run by Lyle Schwartz. The deli at the other end of the street at New York and Pacific Avenues was called "Kornblau's" and was very well-known and popular back then. It's a shame that we'll never see the likes of the gay scene on New York Avenue again. To answer another of the previous writer's questions: Chester owner Allan Werber passed away some years ago. He provided a great place for customers and employees alike to enjoy for many years. Miss those times!
To answer a couple of your questions: 1 - the beach in front of the Claridge was the "gay" beach. Why that happened to be I have no answer. 2 - The photo shows the Chester (to the left) and another building (on the right). You can see the front porch on the Chester which was "enclosed" in order to become the resteraunt. There is a sign for "Mama Motts" parking on the building to the right of the photo. I remember a diner on NY Ave near the Chester. It might have been "Mama Motts" and it may have been located in that building. The Chester's little pool and outdoor bar were located in the space between the 2 buildings in the photo. A lot of fabulous times were had there!!!!
Please explain to me the importance of the Claridge hotel. Also, as I look at the picture on this site I realize there is no front porch...wonder where it went. Where was the front porch restuarant located in the hotel? When I worked through that summer there were a few men who stayed all week, but it got very busy for the weekends. I got to know many of the guys, but it has been so many years ago, I forget names. Also, most of the weekend arrives were from Washington DC. I do not remember any women coming there at that time. I wish someone had some pictures around the end of 60's and early 70's. I was always sorry I never too k pictures. There was an apartment on the second floor, a short distance from the Chester Inn, and when I sat rocking on the porch, I would be able to see everything going on on the street. I noticed at the apartment across the street a girl and a man would walk out of the apartment and about a half hour later she would return with another man. This would go on through the evening. It was not until my boyfriend came down for Fourth of July weekend that he explained what was happening. Someone mentioned a dormitory, I never knew that existed. Where was it located? I know this contains many questions and it someone can answer them I would be grateful. Thank you, is there a street that took over for New Your Ave. after it was gone?
Already, I thought of another question...what were the name of the hotels on each side of the Chester Inn?
What is where the Chester Inn use to be?
It was the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. I was going to be a senior in college in the fall. 1999....so long ago, but so many wonderful memories. Across the street from the Chester Inn was a restuarant named Gus's. I got a waitressing job there and needed a place to live. I walked out and looked across the street and ended up staying in the Chester all summer long. The first afternoon I was there, a man yelled down the hall,"Does anyone have a hair dryer my wife can use." I yelled back, "I do." a gentleman came to my door to get the dryer and he asked me if I was gay or straight. My reply was, "I am happy." He then wanted to know if when I went to a movie did I look at the girls or the guys. I said the guys and he replied, so do I. He then called for his wife to come and get the hair dryer and I noticed it was a very handsome man. It was at this point he explained I was staying at a gay hotel. He then explained what it meant and it would be a very safe place for me. Since I at this point cannot see what I have written, I think I may have typed the incorrect year, it was 1969. I remember the bathrooms in the hall and sinks in the rooms. I know the hotel was very old with the glass above each door and the place was spotless. Alan only garaged me $15.00a week. I do not remember a woman working there at all. There were 2 men and they were both named Alan. There was a heavy set Alan and a very thin Alan. I looked at the picture above and it is different than I remember...there was a large porch outside on the front on the floor with all sofas, TV, chairs etc. I spent many evenings sitting and rocking. I learned so many things that summer, would love to relive that summer again. So, does anyone know if Alan is still alive and what he is doing. I was there long before there was any place to eat, drink, or dance there. I have wanted to go back to look at the place where I worked and lived for the summer of 1969...but I would rather keep the old way it looked as my memory. What is at the site of The Chester Inn and the restaurant across the street? The owners of the restaurant lived above it. If anyone can share , I would appreciate you telling me. by the way up on the corner , not the boardwalk corner, but the one on the other end of the street there was a delicious deli. I had the best work hours. 8-12noon, and back to work from 4 to 8. it meant the entire afternoon at the beach. Right before I would get back to the Chester Inn from the beach there was a coke machine with the coldest coke I ever drank. I always made sure I had money with me to buy one each afternoon. Someone discussed not having safes, back then I was never nervous about anyone getting into my room and taking anything. So many, many fond and educational moments I cherish even until today of the summer I spent in AC. I wish I had pictures of the Chester Inn when there was still a long porch along the front with the green rocking chairs. I am happy I came upon this site.
bells and whistles from the rides and sea gull cries above the crowds and lights.... lights swirling people pinballing along and the d ocean off scene whispering and rushing.. retreating from the darkened shore just wrote a long and wistful remembrance of the Boardwalk , Steel Pier sights and sounds of 1972. N York AvenueDuke ellington playing on the Steel Pier one afternoon and an audience of kids parents and old timers walking past, stopping listening , eating iucecream and rushing to see the Diving horse or a dancing duck which came from behind a curtain and dance on a moving turntable to some 1930s if you put a dime or was it a quarter ....Atlantic City.... say it ...LANTIC cityor was i really there all those years ago . SOME NIGHTS A MIST CAME IN AND FILLE DTHE AIR WITH A SALTY STILLNESS AND DIMMED THE LIGHTS AND MUFFLED THE SOUNDS .... AND THAT TOO WAS WONDERFUL AND MAGIC AND THERE WAS A POSSIBILITY FOR LOVE AND ROMANCE WITH THAT GIRL WITH THE GREEN EYES A WHO SMILED AND CAUGHT YOUR EYE... THAT GIRL WITH THE STRAW BOATER AND APRON AND WHITE SHOES WHO DANCED PAST LIKE A FEATHER AND INTO THE GATHERING MIST. WHILE YOU COLLECTED IMAGES AND SOUNDS AND BROKEN MEMORIES OF A LOST AND LOVING TIME IN THE BEAUTIFUL SAD AND LOVELY , FADING BOARDWALK ON THE THE ATLANTIC SHORES OF AN AMERICAN DREAMTIME.
1972 I arrived from Belfast N. Ireland with another student friend called Tony. We stayed in St. James' Place and several blocks away went looking for work in hotels and bars. We finally landed at the Chester and there in the lobby we met Al Werber he sat with his mother Temmy in her rhinestone glasses. He seemed very large but friendly and gave us a job that very night helping build the Chester Lounge which had been a dormitory . Al asked us if we had any problem workingin a gay hotel. we didn,t really know what he meant! I know ... gullible. He seemed so decent and his mother smiled at us kindly so we said we would have no problem working there. we worked all night laying the stainless steel dance floor of four rectangular sheets of steel which were stuck to the floor with glue. there were a lot of workmen and I remember painting and trying to drill screws into the padded bar top. we worked until morning and Al's partner Bob??had The Diving Horse on the Steel Pier. He too was a decent guy and bought us breakfast at the restaurant across the street..... Steak and fries at 6.00am. Eventually two other Irish friends got jobs with us. Paul C. and Tom M. We worked long shifts without a day off for the first two weeks. Al had an alsatian dog which he used to move any undesirables who came and sat in the lobby.
I remember Junior Mary!! from across the street One time a load of Drag queens came to stay and one was drowned in a boating accident. . There was s guy who came from Pittsburgh where he taught musicals . He was called Bob Jones and his favourite musical was SHOWBOAT . He stayed for around six weeks and bought a little yorkie called Michelle. Most of the gay guests were funny and very pleasant. They said to us straight Irish youngsters " youll be gay by Labour Day". It never happened although I did get engaged on the boardwalk to my girlfriend who was working in Wildwood.The happiest summer, time of my life. I remember the old fading Atlantic city and an old man named Frank who was Als eyes and ears during the night shifts.. I would love to see some photos from that time. I did not have a camera and regret that all that time was lost... more later ,...
Just a few quick correction..the Manager of the bar was Michael Sperenzella..then Frank Hicks..the guy who did the displays was Bob Zanger..The Original Salt Water Tuffies were Mabel Redtop, Tanya Treetop, and Myself...we played at the Rendezvous..the act went to Florida ..I left the act in Act in Florida and returned to AC and formed the "Gimmick Show: with my dear partners Tinsel Garland, and Terry Daniels, Terry was replaced by Joey Dior, then Kelly Peters was added to the act the following year..In 1979 the act disbanded after a long 3 yr run..and The Salt Water Tuffies returned..With Mabel Kelly and Carotta and Nosmo.Treetop became part of the Fantasy Follies at the Saratoga//].David (Tinsel) and myself went to work for the Casino's I returned to the Tuffies show for the New York City appearances at The Ice Palace..
GREAT SITE ! sure brings back memories, old friends, good times, AND hang overs ! i owned REFLECTIONS at south carolina and the boardwalk...... " in the later A.C. years " OH, how i wish i could "turn back time" hugs&kisses...stan
After I commented on May 11, many other memories came flooding back! My parents always took us to AC for vaca and I would walk by NY Ave wondering what went on there. It was after coming out with my friends in grad school, in upstate NY in 1976, I realized I BELONGED on NY Ave! The following summer of '77 would be my first at the Chester. The ride from northeast PA was long and hot. Neither me nor my friends had air conditionoing in our cars. Traffic on the Schuylkill Xprswy would come to a stand still during shore season. You could literally turn your car off and get out and stretch your legs. The Blue Rt. and other highways didn't exist then, neither did cell phones or ipads. How did we survive! I can remember checking into the Chester. The owner and his mom were always there in the lobby which I believe was on the lower level in front of the disco. They were always welcoming and there was always a lot of commotion. You received a safe deposit box in which you kept your valuables. There were no room safes in those days. Nor did we have debit cards and credit cards were rarely used. When returning from the beach in our wet cut-offs, we would drop a wad of soggy dollar bills back in out safe deposit boxes which were kept in the office behind the lobby. I don't remember an elevator at the Chester but I do remember walking down a grand staircase and seeing people sitting at nicely set dining tables. It might have been the Front Porch Restaurant. I only ate there once, being fresh out of college I did not have the funds for fancy meals. Nor could I afford a room with air conditiong or private bath. I remember a large fan high up on the wall near the ceiling. There was a small sink for shaving but the showers and bath rooms were in the hall. If we could not get rooms at the Chester we would stay at a little hotel across the street, I think it was called the Pine Inn. It was run by an older man and his wife and they seemed gay friendly. I don't think they actually liked us but being on NY Ave they really had no choice. I often lament the decline and demolition of NY Ave and have always blamed the casinos. However, I wonder if our fabulous gay ghetto would have survived the advent of on-line dating, h/u apps and social media. Many of the young guys go to the straight clubs with their straight friends these days. It seems as though we have lost that unique fabulousness which was such a large part of the gay community. We are assimilating into the everyday culture. I miss that uniqueness and the camaraderie. I also tried to track down my friend Al. the bartender I met one summer at the Chester. I searched the web and found his name in the Death Record for AC. At least I think it was him. It says he passed away in 1993 at age 38. We have lost so many and so much. I was 23 yrs old the 1st time I went to the Chester, I turned 60 this spring. These memories have remained in my heart all of these years and I am sure they will remain there for the rest of my life as well.
I fondly remember those good old days. Dirty Edna's was the first bar I wondered into back during the summer of 1973. I was only 17, and was with my family for the weekend. I wondered off by myself and noticed all the action going on down New York Ave. I kind of knew I was gay, but couldn't imagine there was a gay nightlife heaven like N.Y. Ave. A big heavy set guy, I think his name was George, was selling tickets for Edna's at the door. He looked at me and said, "3 dollars 2 drinks" I thought WOW, I think I can get in this bar and just happened to have 3 dollars in my pocket. Ruby Redlips was preforming at the time, oh what a night!!!
Spent just about every weekend during the summer in A.C. for years. Anyone remember Frank, the bartender at the Saratoga and of course Schultz & Marino.
Wow!!!! Thanks for the web page...It was truly great reading all of thoughts and memories of an era gone , but not forgotten I came out in Atlantic City, NJ on Memorial Day weekend 1974..I well remember it ... I had read an article on a hotel fire on New York Avenue about that time...( I do not remember the name of it , but it made headlines in my local paper and said it was patronized by mostly gay men.....It was the beginning of my life and unfortunately the end of the hotel's It stood on the corner of New York Ave & Westminster Avenue( Snake Alley).
I remember Timmy who performed drag on the beach.... The social director of A.C... Boris ( Buddy ) Norris !!!!! A good , witty, & fun man who seemed to know EVERYONE..... The Lark, Ramrod, Dirty Edna's, Sugar & Spice, Chester, Chez Paree, M&M, Deville Hotel, Carroll , and Chester & Louise's...( The mature men of the time in white polyester pants and jackets with hair sprayed to the nine.
White garland surround the ceiling with solid red lights shimmering brightly on the tables and chairs on each side of the room and a perfect run way down the middle, As the younger buff men would parade through with our tight tee's and hot pants. ( International Male). I was then one of them...Now 40 years later....I can also sit along the side and watch......Oh how the years seem to slip by... I remember it like yesterday and have that perfect gift of rich memories forever in my life...I often think of the people I knew who past through those doors, and wonder where they are today..I am sure many have gone to the next world...and how many sit and often reflect on what it was, and how far we have come today....I feel blessed to have been able to live that part of my life......and had the experience, fun, laughter, and love of that era...
I have many fond memories from NY Ave and the Chester from the late 70's and early 80's. My friends and I would drive down often from Wilkes Barre PA. I loved the steel dance floor which was occasionally covered with "fog" from a machine. And the outside bar was always packed in the summer with hot guys! We always had a great time ! One summer I was fortunate enough to meet one of the bartenders. His name was Al. He was handsome ! He used to do handstands on the bar for tips! I used to spend weekends with him over that summer and we would drive around AC in his convertible. When we would go to the beach in front of the Claridge there was one local who always commented "O Al u are picking up the tourists again!" LOL ! I'm sure glad I was one of those tourists! Over the years I lost touch with him but ran in to him many years ago in the gayborhood in Philly. I will remember him and the many fabulous times my friends and I had on NY Ave and AC for the rest of my life!
Oh, sure! I remember Tommy. I worked with him at the Front Porch during my time there. I remember him being a funny guy and fun to work with. I think the other chef's name was Bill who later went on to work at The Pearl in Ocean City. What great times they were!
George, thaks for sharing those memories! Do you.remember Tommy Mullen? He was a chef at the Front Porch from 79 until around 81, he was a very good friend of mine.
Wow, I discovered this site yesterday, along with the site for Equus in Philly (check out: http://www.discomusic.com/clubs-more/10937_0_6_0_C/ What memories both of those sites brought back. I worked at the Chester in 1980-81, and what a time that was for gay life in Atlantic City! Bars and restaurants all up and down New York Avenue, and the streets filled with people, and more hot men than the eye could take in! "So Many Men, So Little Time"! Who could ever forget going to Lyle's for the famous "Elton Melt" (rest his soul), as well as a chat with "Muzzy", or to Mama Mott's, or the Chez or Saratoga. And I can't forget to mention the M & M, or the Rendezvous (my first gay bar), or most of all, the Brass Rail, where bartender Billy Cover would entertain me until 6AM when I would catch the first bus back to Ocean City (no car for me back then). I was one of the cooks at The Front Porch, which was one of the most popular restaurants in Atlantic City at the time. When time and schedule permitted, I also tended bar at the Puka Lanai poolside bar, as well as the bar in the disco. There were bartenders Mike and Frank, bar manager Chris, hotel manager Tommy, and all the other wonderful men of the Chester. How lucky we were to have lived through this exciting time in gay history, the likes of which will never be seen again. I thank the late Allan Werber for the opportunity to have been part of it all. And I thank him for trying to recreate the Chester out in Mays Landing, where he opened Bottoms Up, which drew many of the former Chester customers. I remember it all like it was yesterday. By the way, Allan's mother was called "Temmy", and his sister was Sandy. They both played a big part in the Chester's operations, and despite her small stature, Temmy was an imposing figure, as was her daughter! I was unable to find any photos of the restaurant or bar, but did manage to find a few from one of the memorable Chester road trips to "Great Adventure", an employee trip sponsored by Allan. Thanks for the memories of the early days of my coming out. Some of the most enduring friendships of my life were made during that time, and continue to this day. After the Chester, I headed to Philly and worked at Equus. Those were the days.
How well I remember New York Avenue as if it were yesterday instead of 40 years ago !974...The bars were numerous as mentioned,,Sugar and spice, Dirty Edna's the Carroll Hotel( beside the Chester) The Ramrod above the Lark.and Louise's..Lyle's with her Mom...Would be great to go back to those times, but unfortunately they are gone, but always a beautiful memory in my mind and where I first came out.....
My first gay bar, the Lark. I came off the beach and there it was. Draft beer and peanuts. The year was probably 1975. I was nervous and had been in the sun all day and now was drinking beer. Someone put God Bless America on the jute box. The flyers were hot and had won the Stanley Cup. As Kate Smith began to belt a large Drag Queen entered with an American flag hung across her arm and lip sang the song. Wow. I got picked up by the bartender, Larry and was boy friends with him for a couple of weeks. I have many great memories of AC.
Tommy Beneck was my roommate during the summer of 1980. We lived in the last house on the left of snake alley before the double turn to Pacific ave.
The Chester Inn's co-owner was The Family Matriarch, Alan Werber's mother "Timmi" (not "Teppi") , nickname for Thelma but one didn't dare call her Thelma. At first, one had to wonder why the "Gay Beach" was not at the end of New York Avenue instead of two blocks down-beach; all one had to do was look at the top of the Claridge! Other late stars of "The Salt Water Tuffies" were Tanya Treetop, Nosmo King (elide the words to get "no smoking"), and "Killer" Kelly Peters. David Smith was one of the top DJs in The Chester Disco and the beloved Tommy ("Hortense") Howell was The Lark's closing Manager Labor Day Weekend of 1979 , becoming longtime night bartender at The Rendezvous Lounge (Bobby ("Joanne") Johnson was the Manager). Tommy Beneck was the last Manager of The Chester Inn Hotel and Joe Rushkowsil, organist extraordinnaire (no pun intended!), and Jim Bell were stars of The Fronch Porch staff in it's latter days. Wonderful memoies!
Alan Werber was the owner of The Chester. I was a DJ there in 1980, along with Michael C. and Dennis B.from the DCA club in Philadelphia.
One of the best and happiest weeks of my life was spent in Atlantic City back in August 1985. My Best Friend Bill and a I stayed a The Claridge and partied at most of the clubs while we were there. It was a diffrent time and place that is for sure. When I am feeling down and old....I just take a minute and think back to that week and it makes me smile.
I was 16 when I went to the Chester for the first time. It was my first gay club. It was the mid-eigties and New York Avenue was already in decline. Still, I spent some of the best nights of my life dancing the night away there that summer. It was my introction to gay life. I'll never forget going in and there were all these guys walking on the dance floor in their underwear! Later the Brass Rail and Studio Six, about a block away, became my favorite stops whenever I visited Atlantic City. It's a shame that while once Atlantic City had a thriving gay section and population, it now can barely support one gay bar.
The stainless steel dance floor was added at The Chester during the Winter of 79/80 renovation, before for that it was glass with lights in it. What a time! Some of the DJ's names where Michael and Charlie.
I was there back then New York Ave was 99.9% gay.Next to the Chez Paree was the Saratoga with it's raised dance floor..I loved the Chester Lounge it had a stainless stell dance floor. The Rendevous was across the street ..good cruise bar with no dancing..M and M lounge was hot around the corner as well as the Entertainer's club..it was a gay destination..people from all over the world came there and went to Gay beach In front of the Claridge..Fun fun times..and the best part...there was no Aids or Hiv...