The Black Eagle, touted as “Toronto's original leather denim cruising bar,” has been preening its feathers.
Carlos Filetti, the Eagle's co-owner and general manager, has reimagined the 1994 layout and aesthetic. In doing so, he’s created “a sexy warehouse/factory/dungeon atmosphere that is suitable for men to cruise each other in.”
Filetti’s overhaul has done more than expand the DJ booth and double the main-floor bar area; this major renovation has exposed original architectural features and uncovered some of 457 Church St’s former incarnations. Aluminum placards surrounded by industrial light fixtures highlight the space’s first use by sign-painting company Alexander & Son and commemorate its second life as the mid-1960s secret headquarters of homoerotic physique magazine Two.
The panels prominently display a queer history lesson rarely (if ever) seen in the Village; it is heartening to read stories that extend beyond Alexander Wood’s 19th-century romps. Hopefully, this example will encourage other businesses in the neighbourhood to do the same.
In addition to adding a gay page to the Village’s queer history books, Filetti has made his establishment sexier and more refined. The cruising area is now upstairs, not far from the best (hidden) patio on Church Street, while the main-floor bar is decorated with antique pulley light fixtures, all custom-designed and constructed by Filetti himself. Large-scale photographs printed on aluminum by local kink photographer Inked Kenny face the service area. The staircase is lined with wooden paddles.
The fetish appeal is not meant to be exclusive, Filetti says. Everyone is welcome, even on a fetish night. “We keep the atmosphere sexy and cruisy, but there is never a dress code to get in the front door. If we do have a dress code, which happens on occasion for special events, it is only in one section of the bar. Women are welcome here, too.”
In addition to providing new digs for the loyal regulars, the Black Eagle update may attract some new faces, too. Upcoming events are listed on the website and range from Fetish Funhouse Night (“for those new to BDSM/kink and curious about the scene”) to DJ Scooter McCreight's new “bad-boy dance party Trade with guest DJs and lots of sexy lads.”
Whatever your reason for visiting, the Black Eagle has certainly become Church Street’s slicker picker-upper.