The Gilmore empire was not realized without great struggle. In the early days, Douglass Gilmore was a local entrepreneur that built a string of small grocery stores that operated in the remote urban areas of Mt Vernon, New York. At the time, such an enterprise was known as a Convenience Store. And as the decade and his business affairs progressed, Gilmore added on a Laundromat and then a liquor store to his achievements. By now, as the owner of more profit producing undertakings than any other attempt in the community, Mr. Gilmore (most affectionately referred to as “Gil”) was one of the areas most aggressive businessmen. As the business expanded further, Gil introduced his 8 year old son Douglass Jr. to the tasks of stocking and pricing groceries, counting inventory and eventually, operating the cash register. The young boy was a fast learner. He was reliable and skilled at giving change precisely and quickly. He enjoyed challenging himself to complete sales faster and more efficiently than all of his dad’s employees. More than just making a sport out of it, Jr. also wanted to gain his father’s approval. He saw his father as a role model and an image towards which he could reach. Yet, the youngster never quite felt complete. There was never a time that his father stopped everything to say “son, I want you to know that I’m really proud of you.” And
thus, the father-son relationship was never a rich one. Years took their toll on the Gilmore enterprise. And the city of Mt. Vernon was also a victim of that change, as opposed to growing with or preparing for the ever changing times. Crime and poverty, weakened property values and joblessness imposed a sense of helplessness upon the working class. As property values dropped, Low income housing attracted hundreds and hundreds of families that were forced out of neighboring middleclass communities. The only choice for many of these families was projects and housing developments.
And the 70’s still show signs of segregation—as youngsters swallowed realities such as bussing and lingering racism. Naturally, barber shops, Laundromats, grocery and liquor stores would continue to prosper due to the growing need. But a few robberies by gunpoint and a burdensome work schedule pressured Gil into downsizing. He eventually consolidated all of his resources into a single property on the south side of Mt. Vernon. This was a corner property, and quite a property it was too. There was the convenience store, a liquor store, a bar and 5 apartments overhead. In addition to simplifying his business interests, Gil was also very innovative. To combat the crime that threatened his business, he had a permanent partition built in the liquor store. It was made with 1 ½ inch thick bullet-proof glass. The idea was such a success that Gil had a partition built for the convenience store to accommodate the after-hours crowd. It could be pushed up to the front entrance of the store and secured as a makeshift walk-up window. Clearly, Mr. Gilmore was adjusting with the ever changing times, preparing for the weathers of the world in order to protect his business and sole source of income.
By the early 80’s the grocery and liquor stores were rented to an Arab family. The new occupants converted both stores into one large supermarket. But Gil remained a staple in the neighborhood, eventually concentrating all of his attentions on the bar and lounge which anchored one end of his now subleased property.
The bar & lounge, formerly known as Denny’s Irish House, was renamed as Gil’s Irish House. The façade of the establishment was red brick with a section of thick block glass. Two windows, with exterior grills to prevent break-ins, were draped with dark red curtains hung on the inside of the bar. And when the bar was open for business, orange neon signs for Ballentine Ale and Miller beer would shine brightly in both windows. The green canopy above the outside entrance was altered with a neat patch affixed over the old name. Now that Gil had solely concentrated on the lounge business, new activities began to evolve. Previously a watering hole for local blue collar workers, the business now began to expand its attractions. First, porno videos were introduced on Wednesday nights. When that feature became boring and predictable, Gil brought in a topless dancer that performed at the same time the movie played. Soon enough the word spread, drawing new customers. Wednesday night attendance began to surpass all other days of the week combined. Popular demand cried out for more, until dancers were eventually showcased every night. The entertainment filled the club beyond its legal capacity of 150 persons. Now, instead of a local tavern, Gilmore’s was the spot where pretty, young Black women stripped down to their panties. Things had taken a major shift. Englebert Humperdinct’s “After the Lovin’” replaced by Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” The clientele
that had consisted of White, Latino and Black factory workers was now made up of White collar workers, sports celebrities and all-night party goers. The hours of Gil’s Irish House were once 11am to 8pm. Now, the club opened at 12 noon and closed at 4 AM. Naturally, prostitution worked its way into the fold as Gil made a musty-smelling back room available to close friends and customers. To no one’s surprise that was a big hit. Gil began to rent the room for $20 per half hour so that anyone (including police officers, firemen and sports stars) could take their pick of private dancers to the back room. The individual dancer charged a separate amount for her services. Depending upon the girl, and if she was good at what she did, a romp in the back room could cost $50 to $200. Gil also got a percentage of that from the dancers. Essentially, Gilmore’s had become the area’s ultimate inner city brothel—a money machine that featured live dancers, porn videos on the big screen and a back room for sex. Worth its weight in gold, the club attracted Army personnel who traveled from North Carolina; it attracted players of various New York sports teams after their various games; and, of course, the local patrons simply ate it up. It was an
excitement that was ever-peaking and never ending. As fate would have it, too much of a good thing became a problem. There were very few parking spaces available by the roadside, and cars were often parked recklessly along the sidewalks and in the
driveways and on the lawns of nearby residents. After a long night men would also leave the club intoxicated and flagrant, loudly reviewing the evenings highlights at 2 and 3 am. Many customers made it a routine to urinate against trees, fences, hedges and other people’s vehicles. Apparently, stepping out into the night air to relieve their
bladders was sort of signature to suit the animal in them. And the restroom inside the club was too good for that. As a small bar, the Gilmore enterprise never really raised eyebrows. People grew up in the neighborhood to accept it as a landmark of sorts. If anything, locals were accepting the operation just as they were the trees and street signs. But never did the neighborhood expect such a dramatic change in clientele, in traffic and the overall growth; how the business grew so fast. Nobody was prepared for this big fish in their small pond. The spill-over from Gilmore’s affected homes for blocks, whether it was noise, urine odor, or empty beer cans tossed in the front yard. Things seemed to get that much worse on weekends and holidays. All told, Gil could not keep those homeowners at bay. Customers who happened to live in the neighborhood accepted the excitement. But others merely dialed 911 when their tempers hit high. In response, police attacked wrongly parked cars with parking tickets. And because Mt .Vernon didn’t have a towing or impounding routine like the big city did, the city’s only alternative was high penalties. At the time, $30 and $40 tickets were considered high, and that was for double and triple parked cars. However, customers continued to do as they pleased, parking however they wanted. The tickets were not a deterrent. No match for the pleasure customers experienced. So the police were forced to step it up. They raided the club. They did shakedowns and even arrested dancers once or twice for “inappropriate attire.” But, in Gilmore’s to show as much skin as possible was the “attire.” And yet, business was as strong as usual the next day. Customers weren’t the least bit intimidated by the attempts. And since the club had local policemen who worked on staff, these scare tactics were all but disregarded. Besides, Mt. Vernon was only 4 square miles, and everybody knew everybody who was anybody. Truth be told, since half of the police force were backroom clients themselves, the city couldn’t withstand the scandal that could surface. At the least, wives would find out where their husbands had been for all those long nights that were said to be spent doing overtime. And yet, the club continued to bump and grind. A typical night inside of Gilmore’s promoted the aura of sex. Dimmed lighting. Gyrating music. Musty air. Nicotine was built up on the wood paneling and ceilings as if it was intended varnish. But it added a particular element of authenticity. The chairs and stools that were either broken or breaking.—more authenticity. The plywood stage with the cheesy linoleum surface was rickety and squeaky. Mirrors throughout the club (and especially behind the dancers on stage) were cracked and exposed enough for 2nd and 3rd degree cuts. Still, more authenticity. But this was all of what made Gilmore’s the real thing. That raw, undeniable climate of smut and lust, with the young, shapely, sexy women at the center of it all. The whole picture was just one big adventure. Since the local law enforcement was partly under the club’s influence, and that no significant penalty was in place, further action was pursued. The State Liquor Authority (S.L.A.) began to make visits. This was a subtle, quiet approach in addressing the lawlessness of Gilmore’s. But effective and mighty for sure. It was the word on the streets that Gilmore’s provided a nightly ritual of illicit activities. And the hype that came with it all made for a great diversion for S.L.A. agents to go and visit the club to observe the outrageous claims of neighbors. Since S.L.A. was the authority which granted permission to sell alcoholic beverages, the investigators were essentially the rightful individuals to police such matters. And it just so happened that S.L.A. investigators were present on one of the many evenings when things at Gilmore’s got a little out of hand. Although it was perfectly normal for patrons in the busy venue to touch and fondle the dancers. Everything in this environment was okay, so long as it felt good. Yet while the risqué activities proceeded, they were also serving to build new standards for amendments to antique liquor laws. It was an untold history in the world of adult entertainment, but in those circles of thrill seeking men, the art and the term of lap-dancing began right there in Mt. Vernon. This rough, fully clothed version of simulated sex, (where dancers sat on the patrons lap while gyrating until friction became fantasy; where a drought turned into a drip) was actually what S.L.A. reps came to witness. But to their surprise, there were events that were even more awakening.
A bachelor party of 12 was celebrating late into the night. Party animals all of them. The group and the groom occupied the whole front row of chairs. Loud. Frolic. Intense. The club was so busy that the stage seemed to extend into the immediate audience. Everyone, including the bachelor’s friends and the clubs regulars, were immersed in the anticipation of just how far all of the excitement would go. The
group continuously tossed singles, fives and tens at the feet of different dancers who came to the stage for their 20 minute sets. The more lude the dancers became, the more expressive her actions, the more provocative she was, the more money she got. The scene was a seduction for dancers to do whatever, however. Sometime around 1am, after Juicy was introduced to the stage to join 4 other dancers, the group hollered in excitement. The bachelor’s entourage enticed Juicy to “put it on” the groom with a wave of their 20 dollar bills.
Already sliding her bare feet through a modest pile of singles, Juicy agreed. She approached the blushing husband-to-be in a seductive wiggle, eventually swinging her body around until her back was facing him. With his chair and knees flush against the foot-high stage, the bachelor found his face in a unique position. Juicy backed up until her perfectly round, brown cheeks and the split of her ass hugged his face. A tremendous ROAR! followed as the club’s standing-room-only crowd howled in appreciation. The thundering oneness of voices could be heard for blocks as the groom’s nose and tongue disappeared between Juicy’s cheeks for close to two minutes. But that evening, and on through the ensuing months, that ROAR! proved to be the sound that rocked Gilmore’s. Juicy and Gil were arrested that night. They spent the night in jail until the judge permitted them free on bail the next morning. Furthermore, the club’s license was revoked. But, Gilmore was relentless. He reopened the club the very next day and it was business as usual. Instead of liquor, he sold soda, water and “no-beer,” a beer-flavored beverage that had less than 10% alcohol content. For the same $4-per-drink price, customers would unconsciously gulp down the alternative to booze and act just as intoxicated as if it were 80 proof vodka. After all, it was the main attraction that was intoxicating. Dancers now had liberty to perform all-nude, drawing even bigger crowds, despite the loss of liquor privileges. It was during the subsequent months that Gil realized that his club—his concept would survive virtually anywhere.
The time had come for a location change. The pressure from the city of Mt. Vernon was mounting. The local paper maintained headlines that seemed to focus on the descent of the area’s most successful Black businessman. Gil was steadfast however, keeping his long hours and routine unchanged. The face-between-the-cheeks incident resulted in a small fine and a suspended jail sentence for Gil and Juicy. But now, without the S.L.A. jurisdiction, without liquor sales, and with the rights and freedoms of speech to protect nude dancing, Gilmore’s was now back to square one—under the laws and jurisdiction of the locals. The state had exhausted its every procedure in attempts to close the club, but Gilmore’s was no longer an SLA problem… (Click Here To Purchase TOPLESS e-book