1 min

The business of pleasure

In the weeks since our last issue hit stands in December, there has been a lot of news on the business front in Ottawa.

After a period of relative stability in the entertainment market, a new gay bar, The Flamingo, is set to open on the corner of Elgin and Gladstone.

Over on Bank St, One in Ten is giving up its street-level storefront in favour of a more “private” (and, I gather, warmer) second-storey location a couple of blocks south. Meanwhile, After Stonewall and Wilde’s have both been harassed by a letter-writing religious nutcase.

In January, Venus Envy celebrates its 10th anniversary in Ottawa. Over that period, it’s seen a lot of queer businesses come and go — including Polo, Icon, VIP, Pink and gay nights at countless straight bars. Right? Remember Tainted Tuesdays at Touché?

For many people, businesses — not community groups — are the most memorable part of their gay life in Ottawa. Whether you’re a barfly at Centretown Pub, a spanking aficionado at Wicked Wanda’s or a begging bathhouse bottom at Club Ottawa, you’ve been shaped by business.

Some gay businesses are highly responsive to their community. Venus Envy is a good example. It administers a small charitable venture (the Venus Envy Bursary Fund), hosts events and donates to dozens of community groups. A couple of years ago, it greased the palms of the Dyke March, preventing plans from grinding to a halt.

Venus Envy is hardly alone in this.

When I was organizing the Naughty Thoughts Book Club at The Buzz (part of the same family of businesses as The Lookout), the space was donated, and, for a year, staff welcomed our oddball Sunday afternoon klatsch into their family. It’s a similar story at Swizzles and Shanghai.

The Second Cup at Bank and Somerset streets has been building links for some time now. Over the years, Centretown Pub has developed a good relationship with the Ottawa Knights. Wicked Wanda’s helps ACO and Breathless; Wilde’s and After Stonewall are Bank St anchors.

So let’s raise a glass to businesses that give back.