An Open Letter to Blaze Waters

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Dear Blaze,

I’m sorry I didn’t attend your fundraiser featuring Nina Flowers last Friday at Voyeur, though I was able to peek in on it while on my way in to hang with the regulars in the Ruby Lounge. It looks like you drew a nice crowd to the event, and judging from the laughter and cheers, everyone enjoyed themselves.  It looks like your upcoming floating party and performance at the Piazza at Schmidt’s on Friday will be just as good.

I understand that these shows and parties are also fundraisers to help you in your running battle with the owner of Albert’s on Grant Avenue in the Northeast, where you had been operating the first successful gay nightspot in the Northeast until Albert Buoncristiano locked you out in a rent dispute.  I sympathize with your plight and understand the frustration and anger you feel at how he has treated you. I would, however, like to offer a suggestion at this point:

Use the proceeds from these events towards the deposit on a new space elsewhere in the Northeast, then open there, declare victory and move on.
Unfortunately, your trusting nature got you in trouble once your club took off. And it’s all because you forgot to do one thing I trust you will do this time around:

Get it in writing.

As you’ve now learned, a handshake agreement can come back to bite you if you’re dealing with a less than honorable individual. And from what I’ve heard and read, that pretty much describes Albert Buoncristiano to a T. That’s made it easy to rally the LGBT community to your cause, but all the demonstrations and fundraisers probably aren’t going to sway him – and it isn’t because he’s homophobic, though he may be that.

It’s because he smells money.

From what I’ve read and heard, you’ve managed to launch a successful gay club in a part of the city where no one thought that could be done. It’s been successful enough that – again, from what I’ve heard – it does more business than Albert’s Café downstairs.

Do the math: Owner of struggling café has successful gay club as a tenant. Owner wants to augment his income and can’t seem to do it by attracting more customers to the café.  Tenant has only a verbal agreement. Solution: jawbone the rent up on the tenant. That’s you.

Which brings me to my second bit of advice going forward: Never ascribe to homophobia what can be explained by simple greed.

Now, Albert may indeed have a thing about gay people – I’ve heard that some of his patrons do. But I’ll wager that, like many businesspeople, making money trumps prejudice for him. He has certainly behaved that way by upping the rent month after month.

Perhaps that’s Albert’s way of saying he doesn’t want you around, though in this case, I suspect it isn’t. Still, why would you want to continue to do business with someone as shady as this?

You’ve proved you can draw a crowd with your entertainment. You’ve got people on your side both in the Gayborhood and in the Northeast. And you have for a landlord a man who will never get hemorrhoids.

You don’t need him, he needs you. Time to exercise your power by leaving – you can sue for your equipment back later. And don’t forget: Get it in writing this time.


Sandy Smith

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