The Anvil (gay club)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Anvil
General information
TypeGay BDSM sex club
LocationChelsea, Manhattan, New York City
Address500 West 14th Street, New York, NY
CountryUnited States

The Anvil was a gay BDSM after-hours sex club located at 500 West 14th Street, New York, NY, USA, that operated from 1974 to 1986.[1]


The club was housed in a building originally constructed in 1908, then known as "The Strand Hotel" with a saloon on the ground floor, that catered to sailors[note 1] and accepted only men as customers.[2] By the 1970s, the building was housing a pay-by-the-hour hotel named Liberty Inn.[2]

In the fall of 1974, The Anvil opened, with the main floor featuring a dance floor and a rectangular bar along with a performance area, all painted black. There was another small bar downstairs with a large screen on which gay male porn of the period was shown. Behind the screen, there was a "cavernous" and "dark" backroom that was used as a sex area.[2] There were reportedly mock crucifixions, golden showers, and "plenty of anonymous sex."[3] The club would accept "some drag queens" but not women.[2]

On the main floor, the shows varied from performances by drag queens to live fisting shows, with guys often being suspended on ropes over the bar. Between shows, and to the sounds of "loud" disco music, there was dancing that was described to be "as fierce as a bottle of fresh poppers."[4] Lou Reed was occasionally one of the many famous patrons.[5]

As a historian of that period wrote, "the spectators themselves were the performers."[1]

Closure and legacy[edit]

The Anvil was closed in 1986 by the city authorities amidst the AIDS scare.[2] It is now operating as a love hotel again. There are tours taking visiting tourists to the building that used to house The Anvil and to other infamous places marking New York's sexual history.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to a court document of the time, the establishment was catering “to the class of trade that has business at the river front.”


  1. ^ a b Miller, Neil (2008). Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. Advocate Books. ISBN 978-1555838706.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kohler, Will (February 12, 2018). "Forgotten Gay History – The Anvil". Back2Stonewall. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  3. ^ Hamill, Pete (April 4, 1988). "Our Times". New York Magazine. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  4. ^ Musto, Michael (March 19, 2015). "10 Sleazy Gay Places From NYC's Glory Days". Paper. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Krebs, Erik (March 1, 2019). "Lou Reed: The Man, The Mirror, The Music". Yale Herald. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  6. ^ Mikshe, Mike (January 11, 2016). "Tour the infamous sexual history of NYC's Meatpacking District". Daily Xtra. Retrieved April 12, 2019.

Further reading[edit]