By Jorge A. Arizmendi-Penaloza
By Jorge A. Arizmendi-Penaloza
The view through the glass of the double doors shows nothing out of the ordinary is happening in Menagerie nightclub.
The club in downtown Riverside that mainly caters to gay patrons offers different themes almost every day of the week, like Monday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. is karaoke night.
David St. Pierre, 41-year-old former candidate for City Council Ward 1, bought the night club in July 1999 with the idea to turn the gay nightclub into a gender blind club where everyone can mingle without worrying about sexual preferences, although “Menagerie will always be a gay club,” he said.
The second day of the week is the slowest night so there is no special theme. The club is just open to people who like to go to a bar, listen to music and have a drink.
“I can tell that my dream came true little by little,” St. Pierre said. “Wednesday, the ’80s night is the busiest day of the week and we can see a combination of straight and gay people mingling. It seems that on Wednesdays Menagerie is the place to be in Riverside.”
He noticed that when he removed the wall that used to make the entrance dark, straight people no longer thought that behind the doors of a gay club the clients were having sex on the bar: “Once straight people noticed that a gay nightclub and straight club have nothing different to offer, more straight couples started mixing in the gay oriented club.”Since 2002 the theme for Thursdays is a transvestite show that gave Philip Bailey a small taste of what the “Fant-a-She” show could be. The show starts at 11 p.m. and ends at 12 a.m.
Bailey, the founder of the Fant-a-she show, that since 1998 is featured in the Municipal Auditorium, said that his production is as good as one on Broadway or in Hollywood. The rehearsals for this year’s presentation of Fant-a-She started as early as February.
Bailey said that he and the rest of the cast members are preparing a quality show. The male performers who imitate women singers work as hard as the people they are portraying, if not more. They have to learn the person’s moves and gestures.
In September of this year the Fant-a-she show, “Where all your Fant-a-shes come true,” will have Latin, Broadway and ’80s montages.The “All that Glitters” show that was featured every Thursday until August of last year had a different theme than the one “Raven,” David Petrucci has presented since 2004.
“In the first one we used to make people laugh or cry and Raven is offering just a female impersonator show,” Bailey said.St. Pierre said that DJ Shane recently started a Friday ’90s night and hopes to attract more people who like the last decade’s music.
St. Pierre also said that on Saturdays they offer a Go-Go dancers show. For Sundays he is working on a new theme that will be a big surprise for all of his customers.
“Since August last year I think the crowd on Thursdays is increasing,” Johnny “Vanity” Halston said. “The show that Raven is offering every Thursday is targeting a younger crowd.”
The 25-year-old dance student is featured in “Snatch” every other Thursday at Menagerie and said that he loves to be part of the transvestite show at the downtown nightclub.
St. Pierre is hoping to start a political career and is currently a member of many community boards in the city of Riverside.