Robert’s Lafitte Carries On

September 21, 2008

I’m not at all surprised to read this news:

As Galveston told its remaining residents on Monday to leave the Texas island devastated by Hurricane Ike, Robert’s Lafitte, a gay bar, was planning a pre-curfew drag show and Tina Turner sing-along.

The first of two bars to reopen after Ike’s onslaught on Saturday, Robert’s Lafitte is a haven in the storm — for gays, straights, anyone who needs a place to drink and find comfort.

“You can see there’s not too much worry and stress on people’s faces,” said Dixie Monroe, a transgender barmaid who wore a tiger-print cowboy hat and a low-cut top…

The establishment, if it can be dignified by that word, is one of the oldest gay bars in Texas.  Located in a unprepossessing brick building just up the street from the crippled Flagship Hotel, It’s know for the holiday events where Robert, the owner stages a drag “puppet show” Punch-and-Judy style with another performer.  Both of them are gentlemen “of a certain age,” as we say of aging queens and divas.  The show is first-time hilarious, second-time old, third-time a tradition.  It is not to be missed.

There’s a lot of colorful history with this bar.  I had read that when Robert Durst was living as a fugitive on the Island, sometimes disguised as a deaf woman, he used to frequent the gay bars there.  He smoked quite a lot — a kilo of marijuana was found in his freezer when he ran off from Galveston after the murder — and one time in the bar he set his wig on fire.  I always pictured that happening at Robert’s Lafitte, maybe in the dark main room near the small stage, maybe on the back patio where assorted characters gather on lazy afternoons to pass around a cigarette of dubious repute.

The regulars are a hard-living, hard-drinking, and, well, hardened crowd, but nonetheless warm and friendly, if you don’t mind them pickled.  Typical of old-time Galveston’s sin-city ways, they’ve washed up from assorted origins, and they’re here to stay.  They’re not the sort to evacuate, and not the sort to let a storm, however fierce, blow them away.

2 Responses to “Robert’s Lafitte Carries On”

  1. Ray Says:

    Inquiring minds are concerned … Bob wrote: “Both of them are gentlemen “of a certain age,” as we say of aging queens and divas.”

    Does this mean that the term “lady of a certain age” – like the term “gay” – has taken on extra meaning? I hope not; I’ve been referring to women who I believe to be on my side of age 40 as LoaCA for years. It would be inconvenient to have to come up with a new appellation now.

  2. robertangelo Says:

    It really depends on context. In this case, the two fellows are in their 70s, and I’m being kind.

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