It was a leather bar, but not what one would consider a serious leather bar. More like a leatherette bar, or possibly nauga. It had a notorious past, but the first wave of the plague had changed the clientele. Decimated it actually, and so to survive it was becoming more of a neighborhood pub. This did not particularly please the remainder of the old guard. It had one of those nondescript masculine names that leather bars are supposed to have, The Rawhide. With its less than serious attitude (not to mention the grand sing along piano inside), we referred to it as the Chew Toy. It was located just off Water Street, across the street from an antiques warehouse and a couple doors down from the M and M Club, which was Milwaukee's version of a gay Cheers.
The M, as we called it, was a hangout. On the Corner of first and water, it had large picture windows and a horseshoe bar inside. It was not one of those dark back alley gay bars I had been used to in small Midwestern town. It was OUT for all to see, and in that fall of 1987, I had decided to be out as well. I guess we synched.
There was a small restaurant attached to the back of the pub, which was known for its Friday fish fry. In a German Catholic city, this made for a very busy night. Often, we would meet at the M and then wander a couple doors down to the Chew Toy until the dinner crowd thinned out.
I'm sure the three of us were in Izod polos. We always were. We probably looked like rainbow Sherbet. Dan, Gary and I had become close friends hanging out at the M. Gary and I were both recent transplants attempting to get our arms around gay life in the city. Being winter, I'm sure we parked my Saab 900 SPG at the curb, the black one with the baseball glove leather seats. My Hartman attache' was probably on the back seat. We could not have been more 80's without Voguing.
Grizzled fiftyish Leather Dude in chaps listened as we discussed our news of the week, and finalized weekend plans. Finally he looked over at us and asked sarcastically, "What are you guys, the Guppies from Hell?"
Perfect! We had been racking our brains trying to come up with a name for our bowling team, and the season was about to start. We wore our badge proudly.