In 1960, Dick Boyd became the owner of Pierre's.(4)
"At Pierre’s there were a few surprising gay experiences. Our Schlitz beer salesman said he belonged to the Mattachine Society (a gay political organization formed in the 1930’s lobbying for gay rights). My partner and I never had a clue what it was, and the guy was anything but swishy. Dave Kopay was one of the 49ers that came in on Sundays after 49er games then played at Kezar Stadium. His nickname in training camp was “Animal.” He was the first professional football player to “come out” publicly, a very courageous act at the time. Bill Paul, who was our bouncer for two years (1962 to 1964) and left to train for the US Judo team, becoming captain of the 1964 Olympic team in Tokyo, came out a few years later. He became president of the Stonewall Gay Democratic Club. He died in 1988 from a brain tumor associated with the HIV virus."(4)
In 1960-61 Pierre's was a Latin dance hall.
"When we opened Pierre's, it was a matter of getting pupus that broke da mout," recalls Boyd. "And we wanted something different. So we set up little hibachis everywhere and bought the absolute best meat we could find and cooked it right on the spot. Sounds good, right? Didn't work."
They also tried stunts like snail races, with the snails cooked up afterward as escargot. The bottom line, it turned out, was simple: "Good entertainment and good food geared for families, at an affordable price. That simple. A nice place. A place where patrons don't get killed."
Boyd and his crew aimed for "gals from the San Francisco financial district, and wound up as a hangout for '49ers football players. We were a sports bar before anyone had even thought of putting a TV in a bar."
even at its height, Pierre's only had six brands of beer by the bottle. ("I'm a bottle baby, no cans in my restaurants!") And that's because it isn't the booze, it's the company that makes a tavern work.
Good bartenders and friendly waitresses are invaluable. Pierre's first waitress was Margo St. James, who later became a fiery mouthpiece for Bay Area sex workers, but at the time was a memorable waitress who helped design the decor.
Even then, the accent was on salty.
"That's the key. Pretzels. Nuts. We had big popcorn popper that patrons could just go up to and refill their bowls. We were the only guys to try hibachis, but they didn't work. Most of the well-known San Francisco bars had kitchens but didn't use them. The thing was entertainment, Gay '90s groups, singalongs, banjo bands ..."(4)
Pierre's closed in 1965.
Jerry performed here in
At some point, The Warlocks made Phil Lesh's former roommate, Hank Harrison, into their manager. Harrison did very little for the group in his brief tenure. One gig he did get them was playing at a topless joint on North Beach called Pierre's. Pierre's, on the corner of Broadway in Columbus, the same corner as City Lights Bookstore, had been a popular Latin Jazz nightspot in the early 1960's. As topless joints took over Broadway, Pierre's went topless as well, but the club was fading.
Topless dancing in the 1960's was considerably tamer than strip clubs today. The Warlocks had at least intermittently backed topless dancers at The In Room. Club owners didn't care what weirdness a band played as long as they kept the beat going, so topless clubs were a chance for fledgling bands to work on their chops.
The Warlocks played a brief and unsuccessful stint at Pierre's in early November of 1965. A friend of the band wandered in and found them playing to a nearly empty house. The Warlocks had made it to San Francisco, but they were in a club that was past its prime, where music wasn't even the main attraction.(1)
"I saw them at Pierre's on Broadway in San Francisco. They played behind a strip teaser. It was the funniest show I ever saw. Here were my old friends playing rock and roll music and "In The Midnight Hour". Pigpen was playing behind this girl with these tassels. this was an old fashioned type stripteaser. It was before totally nude dancing. I was sitting behind three sailors and they were going, "Take it off!" This girl was down to these little things and there were these air holes in the floor. That was real entertaining. The tassels would go up whenever someone pressed a button. Air would shoot up, the tassels would flap, and you'd see the boobies. Can you imagine the Grateful Dead playing behind a stripper? But after a while, the sailor's eyes turned away from the girl and began watching Garcia and the band. The girl was boring. She was just dancing. Her tits were flopping. So what?"(1)(3)
1.)^Arnold, Corry, Lost Live Dead, North To San Francisco
2.)^Albin, Peter, Greenfield, Robert, Dark Star, pg. 68, http://books.google.com/books?id=XJmzvXLJmjoC&pg=PA28&lpg=PA28&dq=chateau,+garcia&source=bl&ots=B_08shUCVN&sig=DfBvQvl7O1rhauX1o01eSo7qwMM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Fq46UKX1FOiGjAKptoGwCw&ved=0CFgQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=chateau%2C%20garcia&f=false
3.)^Jackson, Blair, 20 Years Dead: Tall Tales, Golden Road No. 05, Winter 1985
4.)^Boyd, Dick, The Semaphore #189, winter 2010, http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=Before_the_Castro:_North_Beach,_a_Gay_Mecca