Audio Interview, Bob Crystal, December 7, 2011

  • BOB CRYSTAL: I came out my freshman year
  • at college, which was 1967.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You don't mind if I tape?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No.
  • I was going to Cornell University.
  • And I came out in 1967.
  • And--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do I dare ask how old you were then?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Well, you just add twenty-one--
  • CREW: Well he was a freshman.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Freshman in 1967.
  • I'm sixty-two.
  • And I was very blessed.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's just kind of slow down just a little bit.
  • So if we were to talk to you a little bit about what
  • it was like being gay in the 1960s,
  • even though you were out into 1967,
  • I'm sure you probably had some sort of sense of--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yes I did.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, tell me about the '60s-- well I mean,
  • how far back do you--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Remember.
  • Recall, remember.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: If you remember the '60s, you didn't live it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, right.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: There was something that
  • affected my life very strongly.
  • There was a phrase in New York state
  • law called moral turpitude.
  • And if you had moral turpitude, you
  • couldn't hold a New York State license,
  • which meant that you couldn't even be a hairdresser.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: So that if you had a conviction
  • of any kind of moral--
  • on any morals charge at all, and that included solicitation,
  • the first thing that happened was your license was revoked.
  • So that created a huge fear.
  • And when people talk about the Stonewall Riots,
  • they don't understand that there were people in that bar who
  • are willing to give up their livelihood, not just
  • an evening in jail, but they were willing to give up
  • their livelihood.
  • And when we talk about Gordon Urlacher being
  • willing to be the liaison between the gay community
  • and the police department in 1972,
  • he was doing a tremendous service to the gay community
  • by being able to erase or change the arrest records.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Hm.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Because there there were people who were teachers.
  • You had to be licensed to be a teacher,
  • you had be a license to be a hair dresser,
  • you had to be a license to be a plumber.
  • And if anybody filed a complaint against you,
  • and there was an arrest record to go with it,
  • at the Department of the Regents, which Regents
  • didn't used to be just education of high schools.
  • It was-- they took charge of licensing.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh wow.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And so on a guy or gal who was arrested on morals
  • charges was no longer able to work
  • and with reciprocity could not work in other states either.
  • Could no longer work in New York state,
  • in the licensed category-- doctor, lawyer--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Plumber.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Hairdresser, plumber--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Teacher.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Teacher--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Carpenter
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Well, carpentry, yeah,
  • because it was a union job.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Probably stonemason.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Well, most of the construction trades
  • were union in the '60s.
  • Unions were amongst the most liberal.
  • The individuals of the unions weren't, but the unions
  • themselves were most liberal.
  • They didn't do any of that stuff.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Were you born in Rochester?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, I'm an Army brat,
  • I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • My parents met under the GI Bill.
  • My mother was a Navy nurse, and my father was an Army Sergeant.
  • And he served in the Ardennes and they both got out and went
  • to University of Michigan, and discovered that the GI Bill was
  • not generous if you had one GI Bill
  • person in marrying another GI Bill person,
  • you ended up one GI Bill income.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Hm.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: So my arrival was--
  • my conception was not a joyous event.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So when did you then come to Rochester?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: After I graduated from Cornell.
  • I had a choice of either going home
  • to live with mother and dad, or coming here and looking
  • for work.
  • I was getting unemployment at twenty-five dollars a week,
  • because--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Now, at Cornell, was there--
  • was the Mattachine Society--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, it wasn't the Mattachine,
  • it was the Cornell University Gay Liberation Front.
  • And I've never been able to find anybody in the records,
  • and I have a really memory for names,
  • but the one name I remember is Bob Roth, R-O-T-H,
  • and he and his lover founded the CUGLF,
  • and that had to be a pseudonym.
  • Because I've never been able to find him.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And he and Bob Osborn born knew each other.
  • And Bob Osborn founded U of R GLF in 1960--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: 1970.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: 1970.
  • And Bob Roth founded CUGLF the right
  • after the Stonewall Riots.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And did you know Larry Fine?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Mm-hm.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So Bob Osborn and Larry Fine--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And RJ Alcala--
  • was the triumvirate.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And Larry Fine is still tuning pianos in Boston.
  • And Bob Osborn was also a tax resistor
  • and an anti-war protester, and the IRS drove him out
  • of the United States.
  • And he went to Canada and he got a job working for Canadian
  • Bell, and he is the guy who designed the optical system
  • for the cable for--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Fiberoptics.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: He was a fiberoptics genius.
  • He's also the guy who tried to convince Xerox
  • that they should get into the computer business,
  • but they sold it to IBM.
  • It used to frost him.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Lesson learned.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Well, he worked out of this kitchen,
  • and I worked with him, and he was
  • trying to teach me how to speak amaslan and all that stuff.
  • And he had a Xerox computer on our kitchen table.
  • We could never eat in the kitchen
  • because it was occupied by this huge computer hooked up
  • to the phone system.
  • And when Xerox made the decision to sell everything to IBM,
  • they literally made him give back his Xerox computer, which
  • was a keyboard built in, and a typewriter,
  • and the computer would take over and type right back.
  • And they delivered to him an IBM Selectric,
  • which did the same thing.
  • And it just-- you could see the steam coming out of his ears,
  • going, they don't know what the-- they're doing--
  • They'll be out of business in fifty years.
  • And sure enough--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Was right.
  • So Let's go back to 1967 then.
  • So freshman in college.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: It was the best of times
  • because it was the year of the generation of love, the love
  • generation.
  • There was a lot of sexual freedom going on
  • amongst the under-thirty crowd.
  • But as soon as people started thinking about their futures,
  • it became paranoid.
  • But there was a lot of free love going on.
  • It was pre-AIDS and post-penicillin,
  • so nothing was scary. (phone rings) I'm not us.
  • I'm on call.
  • They'll call back.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK so let's just talk to me
  • a little bit about then being at Cornell University.
  • There for four years?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yep.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right, OK.
  • Did you get involved with the CUGLF?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Sure did.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, so talk to me about that experience.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: It was--
  • we were very young.
  • Our faculty sponsor was Dan Berrigan
  • We were very optimistic.
  • He taught us passive, peaceful resistance.
  • He encouraged us to go to the education route rather than
  • the demonstration route.
  • He encouraged us to ask for help from the administration rather
  • than demand concessions.
  • And it worked very well.
  • And when I graduated, I moved to Rochester to look for work,
  • and hooked up with Bob Osborn and Patti Evans.
  • Patti Evans was a student on campus at the time.
  • Bob Osborn was already a graduate student in physics.
  • And I forget what RJ and Larry were.
  • I think they were both graduate students, too.
  • I think Patti was the only undergraduate.
  • And they really were doing things like educating people.
  • That's how the Empty Closet started.
  • It started as a flier about what are gay people, why
  • do we want to be called gay, some of the lost issues
  • were why it's unfair why moral turpitude should not
  • apply to us, why the arrests of the police department
  • should not be condoned, and telling people
  • that if you get into trouble, give us a call.
  • We'll do what we can to help.
  • But it was an educational thing rather than a newspaper.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now, moving to Rochester,
  • that would have been, what, 1971? '72?
  • '71.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Winter of '71, '72.
  • kEVIN INDOVINO: So tell me, how did
  • you meet Bob and Patti and--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: They were handing out Empty Closets at Jim's.
  • And I and I wanted to meet somebody
  • who was going to do that because it was right up what
  • I had been trained.
  • I was hanging out at Jim's because there
  • was no place else for a young man who didn't
  • know anybody in town to go.
  • There was Jim's, and there was the Bachelor Forum,
  • and there was another one out at--
  • I forget where it was--
  • you had to get in a car.
  • The nice thing about Jim's was you could walk to The Bachelor
  • Forum and back.
  • Those were the days when walking didn't hurt.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Was it Dick's?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, Dick's was downtown.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Dick's 43.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: The only one I know that was
  • way out there was the Dutch 22.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: That doesn't sound right.
  • It had blacklight.
  • It was two stories.
  • You walk in, and there was a room on the first floor.
  • There was just a bar, and you go up the stairs,
  • and you could see the blacklight reflecting,
  • and the walls were painted black with stars and Jupiter and--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember what area?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: It was on the east side,
  • and you had to go past the Bachelor Forum to get to it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, I'm assuming the Bachelor
  • Forum was on Goodman?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The Avenue Pub?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, that was Monroe.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • I'll have to do some research on that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: We'll have to do some--
  • yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: But it was--
  • but those were the three.
  • And there was very little going on anywhere else.
  • And I was very angry at the church,
  • because the church was not offering a haven.
  • I was on an ordination track back in the '60s and '70s,
  • and I got very angry at the church,
  • and even though there were people
  • in the church who were very sympathetic,
  • they too were afraid.
  • And they didn't want to lose--
  • what happened to me in Ithaca about moral turpitude
  • was one of the ladies from the local church came to worship
  • on campus and she plucked me aside and she said,
  • I know you--
  • you're anti-war, and you're a communist, and you're gay,
  • you're a homosexual, and you're an evil, immoral person,
  • and you shouldn't be in the church,
  • but I'll tell you one thing, my son
  • works for the Regent's Department in Albany,
  • and you'll never be a doctor.
  • Because she even knew I was a pre-med.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Hm.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And I went to the chaplain
  • and said, (sound effects) and he said,
  • I have no control over her.
  • She's from downtown.
  • I said, can you talk to her pastor,
  • get her pastor back off?
  • Tell her to back off?
  • And he did and the pastor said, no she's
  • one of the biggest donors to the church.
  • And I said, to the chaplain, can you call the bishop?
  • The bishop said, no, it's a pastoral thing from local.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Sure.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: So I got very, very angry at the church at the time
  • and came to Rochester.
  • And so I didn't get back into the church until mid-80s.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • Talk to me--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What was Jim's like?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, that's what I was going to ask.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: What Jim's was like?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Tell me what Jim's was like.
  • I mean, I've always heard about Jim's, but nobody really
  • told me what Jim's was like.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I never went to Jim's on Stone Street--
  • I never got-- or Front Street.
  • I never got to go there.
  • It was knocked down by the time I got there.
  • So was the Opera House.
  • But Jim's was opened up where it is now,
  • but it was only one storefront.
  • Right now it's four storefronts.
  • It's been remodeled so you don't see that it's four,
  • but it was just one.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, where is it now?
  • Because I came out after Jim's.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Liberty Pole Way.
  • (interposing voices)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So Eventually came
  • from either Liberty or Idles or Marcelo's? or one of those.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I haven't been in ten years, so--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So that's--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: It was Marcelo's on Liberty Pole Way.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And it started off with one storefront.
  • And it was just the bar--
  • ran the whole length.
  • And then there was double tables, booths.
  • Not booths, but just two seaters all the way back,
  • and then there was a little tiny dance floor.
  • And then beyond that was the kitchen, which was I
  • think maybe a two burner gas stove and a refrigerator
  • and an ice maker.
  • And that was Jim's.
  • And then almost immediately they took over the next storefront
  • and knocked out the wall and made it into--
  • which was a restaurant-- or at least
  • they set it up as a restaurant.
  • And then they knocked out-- then they got the next one
  • and knocked that out and made it into a dance bar.
  • And then they got the next one.
  • So it eventually spread out to be a fairly substantial place.
  • When they got the fourth one, I was already not going there,
  • because it had turned into a let's go
  • hang out with gays, as soon as they
  • started referring to me as one of the gays, I stopped going.
  • Also, I paired off, and one phenomenon--
  • phenomena-- of gay culture is you pair off and disappear.
  • Yeah.
  • Well, talk me through a little bit more
  • about Jim's, about the kind of people
  • that you were meeting there.
  • I mean, what kind of crowd was hanging out there?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: It was--
  • every room had a different--
  • and that's what was really nice about it.
  • The front bar, the first room, by the time
  • it got to be three stores wide, and it stayed three bars wide
  • for a long time--
  • the front bar was the bar.
  • And people who tended to sit on the stool and lean on there
  • and talk to the bartender stay there.
  • And if you hooked up with somebody
  • in the other parts you wanted to talk to them quietly,
  • you would go into the one of the two seaters.
  • The middle part was the dining room during the day.
  • And in the evening, the music from the dance floor
  • came in there.
  • But you could hold conversations.
  • And that's where a lot of clubby--
  • you know, nightclubby stuff--
  • not nightclub, social center type of clubs.
  • Functions happen.
  • People would go there, have dinner, and then
  • stay after and having drinks, hear the music, dance.
  • You wanted to get up and dance, you
  • could go and get up and dance.
  • But there were tables that seated ten, eight, or ten,
  • and you could--
  • it was, the colonials chairs.
  • Who says people have good taste?
  • At any rate, but we would hang around there.
  • You could get something to--
  • bar food to eat if you--
  • I worked at the shoe store, so I wasn't getting there
  • until ten o'clock.
  • I was getting there cold because the last bus,
  • Rochester is very inhospitable to people who don't drive.
  • The last bus from Chili comes in at ten o'clock,
  • and the store closed at ten o'clock.
  • So I had to walk to Nick Tahou's to catch a bus
  • from Whiskey Plaza.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: But I would get there about ten o'clock,
  • and that would be just as when it was starting to crank up.
  • Mark Hull used to have his own table.
  • We joked about, it should be engraved.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Why does that not surprise me?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: You know him?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes, we've interviewed him.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Recently?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: How's he doing?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Did he--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Besides being in a wheelchair,
  • I mean he's still pretty--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Did he put his hands on you?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Out there.
  • He did not.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Then he's changed.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I was expecting him to,
  • because I had been warned.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Did he play?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yep.
  • Yep.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • The third room at Jim's, the third storefront, was--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: The third storefront was the dance floor.
  • And that was the one with the strobes,
  • and the mirrored ball, the disco.
  • That was the disco.
  • And that was very loud and very crowded and very sweaty
  • and towards the end of my traveling there,
  • it got to be straight people coming
  • to dance with the gay people, because the gay people
  • are so free and easy.
  • And it got to be--
  • I don't like being a tourist trap.
  • And Jim had started to age, and mellow out and be
  • a little bit more conservative.
  • And he was looking for what his life was going to be like.
  • He was only nine years older than I am,
  • and he was starting to wonder whether it
  • was going to ever have a two car garage and a house
  • in the suburbs.
  • And so he was thinking in those terms.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So when you first arrived in Rochester,
  • and this is kind of an extension of what we just asked,
  • what was your first sense of the gay scene in Rochester?
  • Was Jim's it?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, it wasn't.
  • Jim-- I don't know where I got the knowledge from,
  • maybe from talking to people in New York City,
  • but Rochester had the reputation of being
  • the oldest gay community in New York outside of New York City.
  • There was a gay bar where the liberty pool is right now.
  • There was-- there's always been a baths.
  • Dick's was not anywhere near the first bar that was just
  • a neighborhood gay bar.
  • I went to Betty's.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Betty's?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Up on Lake Avenue.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, it's--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, Bullwinkle's?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Bullwinkles.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Bullwinkles, right.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And Rochester just had that reputation.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Why do you think that is?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Because we had a very active gay community here.
  • Not gay community, we had a very active homosexual community
  • here, people who knew each other,
  • knew each other to be gay, who were not embarrassed about it,
  • and we're not married and living in the closet.
  • We had a lot of people like that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Were you at Jim's when it was raided?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What was that like?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I had just left, and I saw the cop cars coming.
  • And I-- it was not my finest moment.
  • I went home.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So you weren't in the bar.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I would have.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I was in the parking lot.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • And did that occur often?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No.
  • It only occurred when they wanted more money.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Pay-offs.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Jim was paying somebody off.
  • I have no idea who.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • And were you--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And so was somebody at the Bachelors,
  • and so was somebody at--
  • even Bullwinkles, she was always giving somebody a free drink,
  • and I could never figure out why a guy would come in and sit
  • down and have a free drink.
  • But even if it was only that, there
  • was still ethical shadows.
  • But I think Jim was paying big money in the '70s.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I'm sure.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Were you in town when Whitey organized
  • the Top of the Plaza thing?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No.
  • I may have been in town, but I wasn't involved in it.
  • I don't-- my timeline is getting fuzzy from this distance.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So let's go back to then meeting with Bob
  • and Patti and Larry and Whitey.
  • It was on the Empty Closet when the meetings were
  • and where they were.
  • And I just--
  • I happened to live on Plymouth avenue.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And where were the meetings?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: On campus.
  • In the student union.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And what was it about that
  • that drew your interest?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: That was the kind of gay liberation
  • that I had learned at school.
  • And it wasn't very long--
  • I mean, we're talking about, I got to Rochester
  • in November of--
  • November?
  • October of '71, and I went to my first meeting in '71.
  • So it wasn't like I was looking very long before I found them.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What was your first impression?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Of them?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Of your first--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah, it was like coming home.
  • It was young people, optimistic, determined, hopeful,
  • and going about it with a plan.
  • That it was-- what they didn't have plans for
  • is what they were going to do if they succeeded.
  • All right.
  • So the Empty Closet was a flyer.
  • They had no idea what they were going
  • to do if it got to be the point where people
  • wanted to take ads out in it.
  • They had no idea what to do if they
  • had so much stuff to put in it that they needed two pages.
  • But Bob had a Gestetner and we ran it off on the Gestetner,
  • and I can remember sitting there,
  • after I moved in with them, I can remember sitting there
  • with the candle wax trying to cover up
  • the little hole in the silk because we'd hit the--
  • IBM had hit it too hard and taken off too much wax,
  • and we had to repair it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Is there, that you know of, any photos of you
  • guys doing this at all?
  • Somebody have any photos hiding in the back of their closets,
  • or--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: They may.
  • I, when Bob died, I went up and got
  • all of the photos out of his closets
  • that I could get that he had saved.
  • Bjorna might have some.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Bjorn.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Bjorn Borg.
  • Bjorn--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Borg.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Borg.
  • She's not Borg anymore, she had a sex change operation,
  • she's Bjorna, and I can't remember her last name.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you have a way of contacting her?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No.
  • But she's in Fairport somewhere.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: We can to track her down somewhere.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: RJ I don't think was into photographs.
  • Larry was, but I think he gave Bob all the ones that he had.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I was just curious, I would just
  • make note of that, that you have maybe some of Bob's photos
  • that might be of interest to us.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Oh, I've shown them to you--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I scanned them all in and shared--
  • I think I emailed them to you.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Wait a minute, you
  • sent me a disk or something.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yes.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, so I may already have them.
  • That's right.
  • OK.
  • They're on a DVD, right.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Bruce Woolley.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You gave then to Bruce,
  • and Bruce gave them to me.
  • Right, OK.
  • Good.
  • All right.
  • So those are photos.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I'm trying to think of the--
  • couple other people might--
  • Joe Alongi is another--
  • see, the problem is is that everybody was using--
  • I was, Bob and I were unique in that we were the only ones who
  • weren't using pseudonyms.
  • And Larry Fine and RJ were using their own names
  • on campus, but in a lot of stuff correspondence, out of town,
  • until they graduated.
  • Or until they got their degrees and certification.
  • I think that-- yeah, at any rate,
  • Bob Osborn was already so much in trouble with the government
  • that he didn't give a damn.
  • And he was so confident that his skills were so marketable.
  • And I didn't give a damn.
  • I just was so angry at everything.
  • That I just said, I'll starve to death
  • and then they can put it on my tombstone
  • that I was starved to death by being forthright.
  • So Joe Alongi the photographer.
  • He had a camera everywhere.
  • But that's not his real name.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • I don't know who that would be.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: We'll have to put something of Facebook-- who
  • was Joe Alongi?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • He was an undergraduate in 1972.
  • And he was either in photography or in--
  • what did the U of R have that would have attracted
  • photographers and writers?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Optics?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No he wasn't scientific.
  • He was-- maybe he was pre-law or something.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Police department.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So, well all right,
  • so let's talk about the GLF.
  • And talk to me about your involvement with them.
  • And again, what was it like?
  • I mean, what were the kind of the conversations
  • that you were having?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Bob was constantly bringing items to us
  • from Albany, and from the city hall,
  • that we should be discussing and we
  • were discussing how to go about educating people, and getting
  • people on our side.
  • We had the Mattachine as a good example,
  • but we wanted to be more active, and we didn't want
  • to be straitlaced about it.
  • I was there for the Mattachine's triumph, which
  • was only one year, and that was the Stonewall Riots,
  • was the best year for the New York Mattachine,
  • because the government came to the Mattachine and said,
  • the young folks are revolting, get them to behave.
  • So Mattachine provided the--
  • what do you call the people on that parade
  • route that have the armbands?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Peacekeepers.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Well they were more than that.
  • They were the organizers.
  • They were the first year of the organized march,
  • they were the people that took out the licenses
  • and interacted with the police department and the parks
  • department.
  • And that was their finest hour, because they
  • had been laying the groundwork for so long, and so
  • somebody in my position, somebody
  • who is not from New York--
  • I was from Long Island at the time--
  • but I was observing that.
  • And then I went down for the Stonewall riots.
  • First Stonewall Riots, I got there
  • after it was all over with.
  • Because I was a poor student, I couldn't get down there.
  • You have to raise the money for the Greyhound tickets.
  • But the second year I was there in advance, and Cornell--
  • we did ask silkscreen t-shirts.
  • They were lavender, tie-dyed, and then they
  • had two male and two female signs across the chest.
  • And there is a picture of Osborn and the GLF, and that's--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We met, but that didn't count.
  • That's not how I got connected with them.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, yeah, I seem to remember that picture.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • So at the university--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: At U of R.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: U of R--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We met in the conference--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What role did you play in that group?
  • Were you a speaker?
  • Of Speaker's Bureau?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I was a Speakers Bureau, I worked with Karen,
  • and Patti and I went to Brockport a couple of times.
  • But we also went to the U of R, and spoke.
  • We spoke at RIT.
  • MCC was not in the picture at that time.
  • We were also foot soldiers in Bob Osborn's campaign.
  • I mean, if you see the picture of Bob Osborn marching to City
  • Hall, that was '72, or--
  • yeah '72, when he sat down with Mayor Ryan?
  • Or was it Mayor Lamb.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I think it was Ryan in '72.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: But at any rate
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It seems like a little early for him.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Maybe.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: If you see that picture
  • of Bob and RJ and Larry, there's a set of pictures of them
  • in Albany.
  • And then there's a set of pictures of them
  • on Broad Street marching from the Central Trust Building
  • into the old city hall.
  • And when they-- on both of those--
  • Pattu and I and Joe Alongi, several other members
  • of the URGLF were there too.
  • But the fearsome threesome were the photography.
  • The newspaper, the media got a hold of their pictures better.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now, was this a march to city hall?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, and what was the goal
  • or the mission behind it?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: To get publicity.
  • To get an article that gave our side of the story.
  • And it was to end the discrimination
  • to get the city of Rochester to write a nondiscrimination
  • clause.
  • It was that early that we were asking for that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, we didn't really
  • you ever get that until--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Now.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Johnson, right?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • Were you involved in the radio show?
  • The--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • Green Thursdays.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What was it?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Green Thursdays.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Green Thursday.
  • And where was it?
  • CMF?
  • No, WCMF.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, let's go back, why was it
  • called Green Thursdays?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Because if you wore green socks on Thursday,
  • you were queer.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So this was a queer show, then?
  • It wasn't a--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh, OK.
  • On WCMF.
  • How things change.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Maybe we should institute Green Thursday again.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So I don't want to lose sight of the GLF.
  • We'll get back to the Green Thursdays things in a second.
  • So you're doing marches on city hall,
  • and just take me on through throughout your involving
  • with the GLF.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And then the other thing as a soldier, that I did,
  • was, I was the one who took over and handing out
  • the Empty Closets in the bars.
  • And I was also the one, when the police were putting the good
  • looking blonde guy in tight blue jeans on Court Street
  • Bridge with his thumb out, and people stopped and asked him
  • where he was going, he would hop in and say,
  • I'm going to Jim's, and if they knew where it was,
  • he arrested them.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Police entrapment.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And they had a black Maria in RSBs parking
  • lot, and that was where Jim's patrons parked
  • after six o'clock.
  • RSB just shut down.
  • And the person giving him the ride would pull in and park,
  • and he'd get out and he'd be arrested, put in handcuffs,
  • and the decoy would take a little bow,
  • and the guys in the black Maria would (claps)
  • and then the guy would be put in the black Maria and left there.
  • So the first guy arrested was in that black Maria
  • for at least three hours.
  • In handcuffs, on a hard bench, in a black truck that you
  • didn't know what was going on.
  • Not allowed to talk.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And this was what, still 1970's?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: '72.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: 1972.
  • OK.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And what happened was
  • is that as a result of our protests, first of all,
  • everybody denied that there was--
  • I also noted, and and tried to get pictures
  • of, and I couldn't do it, the cops writing down the license
  • plates in the RSB parking lot.
  • And they had a little card file--
  • this is pre-computer, so it was three by five cards,
  • and you can pretty much see when somebody is getting out,
  • he's got a little box with a lid that opens he pulls cards
  • out and writes on them.
  • You know damn well what he's doing.
  • This is not just always discussing recipes
  • with the cop next to him.
  • So we argued that with Mayor Ryan also.
  • We had more than one meeting with him, or we tried to.
  • But we did do several demand letters to him.
  • And one of them was that we demanded
  • that this behavior stop.
  • And he wrote back saying that there was no such thing.
  • That that didn't happen.
  • And at the same time, the sheriff--
  • name just went right out of my mind-- his son was gay.
  • I can't remember his name.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Pat Mahoney?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I think John Noble mentioned it once before.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: At any rate--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And this would have been in '72, '73?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: '72, '73.
  • And what we did was we appealed to all the men
  • who could possibly have any influence at all to please
  • if they are out at all, tell people
  • that could affect the police department.
  • And as a result, those card files
  • never did get acknowledged.
  • But they stopped being used and in '73, late '73, early
  • '74, Gordon Urlacher was appointed as the liaison.
  • And he started off with me, and he moved over to--
  • who took my place?
  • At any rate--
  • Whitey, maybe?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Possibly.
  • It will be in the Empty Closet.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: But it started off, I
  • was one who had the first meeting with him.
  • So when he had his scandal, I was so sorry for him.
  • The poor guy, he had a heart of gold
  • when he was dealing with me.
  • He was young.
  • He was very sincere.
  • He couldn't possibly believe that the police department
  • would be doing things like that.
  • And he promised that he would help.
  • And then apparently he found out a lot of crap going on.
  • At any rate-- but he was a good guy.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Who, at this time,
  • was editing the Empty Closet?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Jay.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Jay Baker.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Jay Baker was?
  • OK.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And you moved off campus.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We moved off campus because we were asked to,
  • and Mark Hull let us rent for a minimal amount the building
  • that he owned at Bull's Head, where his stamp store was
  • upstairs from.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Do you know why you were
  • asked to move off of campus?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I think because Joe and Patti were the only members
  • who were still students.
  • Again, it was not the University of Rochester
  • wanting to help a community organization.
  • They were very much, how much of this is a student body?
  • And when we left, the students tried
  • to keep it going as the U of R GLF, and we just--
  • all the townies just formed the GAGV.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Was that women as well as men?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: The first year, yeah.
  • That was also the period when the women
  • were pretty upset with us men for being gay male chauvinist
  • pigs.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's talk about the move, when
  • you moved over to Brown Street.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • It was an old pharmacy.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, did you still retain the Gay Liberation
  • Front name, or did that stay with the U of R?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We left that with the U of R.
  • That was intentional.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, so what did the men's group
  • become known as?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We formed the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley.
  • So that groups could form under it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right, OK.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: But the name came from the--
  • the big argument was, were we going
  • to be the Rochester Gay Liberation Front,
  • or are we going to be--
  • my argument was Gay Alliance of Rochester, GAR, Gay Activist
  • Alliance, GAAR.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So when you guys were over in Mark Hull's space
  • on Brown Street, you were already Gay Alliance?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But there was a woman's group that
  • went over to Monroe Avenue.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: There was a women's group within the GAGV called
  • the Greater Organization--
  • Greater Rochester Organization of Women.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And they were part of our group,
  • but they wanted to meet separately
  • and they wanted to be separate just to circle their wagons.
  • And they were-- they wanted to ensure to all the members
  • that they would continue to work with the GAGV,
  • so that the GAGV would be the GLBT presence,
  • but they needed to work their own issues out,
  • and so they formed the GROW to do that.
  • And there was a meeting still on the U of R campus
  • when that was happening.
  • I can remember Karen Hagberg giving me a ride home
  • and tell me I shouldn't worry so hard about it, that it was not
  • the end of the world, and that the women were not
  • abandoning the men.
  • My own personal perspective was at the time was
  • the women were the grown ups and the men were the boys,
  • and the older grown up amongst the men was Osborn,
  • everybody else was running around, having a good time.
  • Osborn was the only one who was working every day.
  • And the women were the ones who were working every day.
  • And they pretty much agreed with me.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And the women went to the co-op?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: They didn't start at the co-op.
  • They went-- I forget where they went.
  • They went to Liz Bell's house for a couple months.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Could be.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: On, not Gregory.
  • What's that, the one way street that runs
  • between South and Mount Hope?
  • Sanford.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Sanford.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: So I think they met on Sanford Street
  • for a couple months.
  • And then they found the coop.
  • And then they got told that they couldn't use GROW
  • because there was an organization already started--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Gay Revolution of Women was--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Was theirs.
  • They were Gay Revolution of Women,
  • and then there was the the Greater Rochester
  • Older Workers.
  • that had founded itself and had actually formed corporation.
  • So they had priority, because they had a corporate name.
  • And Gay Revolution of Women, yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: But they also were involved
  • in the women's magazine.
  • That had a lot to do with it.
  • And that was on Meigs Street, and--
  • Meigs and-- Meigs and--
  • starts with a C.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Why can't I?
  • Yes, I know the newspaper.
  • New Women's Times.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: New Women's Times, right, I knew that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: New Women's Times, right.
  • With, oh, what was her name--
  • Rose?
  • Not Rose.
  • Anyway.
  • Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: You should have interviewed us ten years ago
  • when our memories weren't so bad.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well it'll all come back.
  • After the interview's over, you're
  • like, oh, now I remember.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So, OK, so from this point on,
  • you guys are off on your own.
  • Pretty much, I mean the women are
  • kind of off doing their thing.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: So we did our best to improve the building
  • to the point where it could be used as a community center.
  • We are very optimistic that we wouldn't run into any problems
  • with it being a community center.
  • Mark was very paranoid.
  • He rented it to us, he was very glad to rent it to us.
  • And then after about three months of us talking about,
  • well, we're going to have a dance,
  • and we're going to use the storefront
  • to open a counseling center and a youth center,
  • and he what's going, oh, I'm going
  • to have my house burned down.
  • Because that was still--
  • St. Mary's was the only really progressive force
  • in that neighborhood at the time.
  • You had a very conservative neighborhood,
  • even amongst the blacks.
  • It was slow to--
  • that was the northern end of the white flight
  • I had reached there.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So then just continue on.
  • I mean, you weren't there too long.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We were there a couple of years.
  • It was cold.
  • Mark did not pay for a lot of heat.
  • So it was hard to have meetings in the wintertime.
  • I was the first vice president and CW--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Michael Robertson?
  • NO.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: CW was the first president.
  • Michael Robertson-- my memory is--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: CW.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: CW Davis.
  • He was a rejected Mormon from Ithaca
  • who move to Rochester to go to Brockport.
  • That's how we got speaking engagements in Brockport
  • is he gave us the name of professors who
  • would be willing to invite us.
  • But he lived in, what's the little tiny--
  • Fancher.
  • He lived in Fancher, went to school at Brockport,
  • and he came into town to be active at Jim's and the GAGV.
  • So I was--
  • I know I wasn't president.
  • But I was vice president for one term when we first
  • got off campus.
  • And I don't remember whether Mike Robertson was
  • the first president and CW took over for me,
  • or whether CW was the first president
  • and Mike Robertson took over for him.
  • It was something like that.
  • But we did have one dance there.
  • We waited until May so that we didn't
  • have to see our breath while we danced.
  • We weren't able to get a band, so it was just a stereo system.
  • Somebody brought a stereo system from home.
  • And it didn't work.
  • So we started casting about for another place to go.
  • And that's how we ended up on Monroe Avenue.
  • The women had already been there.
  • They told us about it.
  • We knew that there was space available.
  • And--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The story that's told, anyway,
  • is the women had the heat, the men had money,
  • and together you could form a marriage, and being
  • warm and happier.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We never had a divorce.
  • All right?
  • There was still-- the Speaker's Bureau
  • was the child that we had in common,
  • and the women didn't want to do Speaker's Bureau just
  • for women, and the men didn't want to do it just for men.
  • We had to have mixed couples.
  • We had a lot of fun with that.
  • That was me going as the--
  • I had a three piece wool suit with a herringbone pattern,
  • and a silk tie and a white shirt, and brogues.
  • And CW used to hang around in elephant bell bottoms
  • and he had really, really skin tight
  • down just below his knee caps, and then elephant bell out
  • so that you didn't know what kind of shoes he was wearing.
  • And he was a pretty skinny fella.
  • And so he would wear tank tops.
  • And the two of us would go out and I
  • would be the raving queen and liberal
  • and he would be the conservative.
  • We had a great time.
  • And the women would just be entertained.
  • The women who-- there would be four of us going, and women
  • would just sit there going, what a show.
  • But it was making a point is that, education, Speaker's
  • Bureau, was the heart of what I loved
  • about GAGV and the U of R GLF.
  • And that was education.
  • And it's still true.
  • The families the have somebody who's out and about
  • have a much less problem voting for a politician
  • who's in favor of anti-discrimination laws.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What kind of reaction
  • were you getting from the community?
  • For being out in the Speaker's Bureaus,
  • or being out there with a gay newspaper, or--
  • I mean, it wasn't all, hi, here we are, now you all love us.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: There was still the paranoia.
  • There was still, until the '70s, there
  • was still fear of loss of job.
  • And so it self regulated in that,
  • the people who were in the Speaker's Bureau
  • were a certain type of people who
  • didn't care whether or not they could get a license or not.
  • And we were young enough that we were immortal.
  • None of us thought that we were ever
  • going to be mugged or raped.
  • I remember Kenny White coming back from going to Florida.
  • He thought that he was going to have a great time in Florida.
  • And he was raped.
  • And he came back and we were all aghast at that.
  • I can remember when Ted Aldrich decided to pick up
  • stakes and move to California.
  • It was not because he was not being well received
  • as a gay guy who was teaching kids how to dance.
  • It was that he didn't think that there was any room for a dance
  • studio in Rochester after--
  • because we're too small of a city to support three.
  • So he moved to California.
  • But we had all this positive--
  • we had the groundwork.
  • Rochester was a city that didn't rape and beat up gay people.
  • We had a police department that did blackmail them,
  • and did round them up, and did get money from the bartenders.
  • But we but it was all low key.
  • It wasn't there was nothing New Jersey about it.
  • It was all smug town.
  • We were all-- we were doing things in a civilized manner.
  • And so we had that optimism, this is a civilized town.
  • We can do these things and achieve our goal
  • without being in danger.
  • We were wrong.
  • There was violence.
  • We just-- minimized it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Was the violence toward homosexuals
  • or toward women or toward gay men?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Queers.
  • Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Queers.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And generally speaking, you say queer
  • to a straight person who's willing to be violent,
  • and you're going to get the picture
  • in his mind of an effeminate gay man,
  • and that's who was in danger.
  • Kenny White was a very effeminate gay man.
  • And he just didn't get mugged in Rochester, that's all.
  • But there were twenty-somethings hanging around Jim's.
  • There were twenty-somethings hanging around Bachelor Forum.
  • That's one of the reasons why people went to the Bachelor
  • Forum, is because it was--
  • if you got mugged, you could always go inside
  • and say, I just got mugged, and they go out chasing him.
  • All right, that didn't happen at Jim's.
  • If you got mugged?
  • Too bad.
  • You should have been more careful.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And Arnie owned the Bachelor Forum, then.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • But Arnie had some big friends who
  • liked to hang out in the Bachelor Forum.
  • Big nasty friends.
  • I loved them.
  • To the point where my friends were saying,
  • oh, are you into that?
  • but it was the sort of thing where even that was smug town.
  • We were quiet about it.
  • It was never going to make the papers.
  • And that's what Bob and RJ and Larry
  • were pushing against was, they did
  • want us to get in the papers, but they wanted the good stuff
  • to get in the papers, not--
  • they didn't want any of the bad stuff happening.
  • And so it was that tension which was an exciting place to live,
  • when you've got two things going on like that,
  • it's a great place to--
  • I've been told that there's an old Hebrew curse, may
  • you live in interesting times.
  • I don't think of it as a curse.
  • I think living in interesting times is a blessing.
  • And I did.
  • And I got paired off in 1976.
  • And I disappeared from the scene really quickly.
  • Curtis is a very private person.
  • Took me three years to meet his mother.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: My next question was to be, OK, and take me
  • through the '70s, but you just kind of just
  • did that for me, in '76 you kind of stepped out of it.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Well, it took a while for him to pull me away
  • from it I was involved in--
  • in the late '70s, I got involved in the Corn Hill district,
  • and that was also a new thing for the gay community,
  • is that we actually had a Georgetown.
  • But how Rochester can you get, that it was the third ward,
  • it was the Corn Hill district.
  • We had little retired--
  • the first woman a pharmacist in Rochester was Katie Miller,
  • and she was my landlady.
  • And she was in--
  • she loved renting to gay boys, because they'd
  • so easy on her property.
  • And she was a sweetheart.
  • And there were a couple gay men who
  • owned houses that had a rental property in the back.
  • And it was just a great neighborhood
  • to grow up, to have fun in.
  • And the large part of the Corn Hill Arts Festival
  • was the fusion of the arts community
  • and the gay community saying, let's have a really good time.
  • Anne Frank's husband, was his first name?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Who?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Mr. Frank.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Mr. Frank.
  • He was the de facto mayor of Corn Hill,
  • and he was big, big guy with a big beard,
  • and Anne was a little, short, skinny woman.
  • Really-- but they were hippy dippy freaks grown up,
  • and they were really good folks.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Were you on Channel 21 with Karen
  • and I think it was Bob and Patti, a morning show?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I think that was RJ.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: RJ?
  • OK.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Now, Bruce and I, Bruce started the Green
  • Thursdays on WCMF.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Bruce--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Jewel.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Jewel.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Everybody thought that, because we
  • were in the era of pseudonyms, it was
  • Bob Crystal and Bruce Jewel--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now, what year are we talking about now?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: '72.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: 1972, still.
  • OK.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Did everyone know that if you wore green socks
  • on Thursday, you were queer?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: In Buffalo it's yellow.
  • I don't know why.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I would have thought
  • it would have been Irish, but--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: It's if you wear green on Thursday,
  • and it was specifically green socks,
  • but it was green on Thursdays.
  • Then you were gay.
  • You're a queer.
  • Because that was in my high school, too.
  • I don't know about you, but--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No, well--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Nothing.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Mine was late '70s, early '80s,
  • so it was all about bandana, you know,
  • what color bandana, or what side of the bandana
  • do you wear it on?
  • But how does Green Thursdays get started,
  • and where does the concept come from,
  • and how did you even get away with it?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Well, it was Wednesday night at midnight.
  • So it was WCMF--
  • somebody at WCMF said hey, let's be leading, let's
  • be growing edge here.
  • And back then, they were the musically growing edge.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: They would have been privately
  • owned, too, back then.
  • Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And they were this far away
  • from being alternative.
  • And so they said, sure, and that somebody--
  • Bruce was a cardiologist at Genesee hospital.
  • And pretty out.
  • And they knew him, and they said,
  • well, they didn't even know that he
  • was thinking in terms of that, but they said,
  • we want to do something weird at midnight,
  • and we're looking for a program.
  • And Bruce said well, there is no gay program in Rochester,
  • why don't we do that?
  • And they go, well, I'd have to talk to my boss.
  • And it came back, and Bruce did it for almost four months all
  • by himself.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now, he went by Bruce Jewel but what
  • as his real last name?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Jewel.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was Jewel?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh, OK.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: They thought it was a pseudonym.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: It was--
  • but it was-- when I came on board, then they said,
  • oh it's got to be fake, because Jewel and Crystal.
  • But he used to go in on Tuesday afternoons, when
  • he had off from work, and he would
  • go in and sit-in the library, and go through all
  • the dumb promos that they got.
  • They got all these forty-fives were coming in,
  • and all these LPs were coming in, and he'd go through
  • and he's listen to them, and if they
  • had non-gender specific songs, he listened to them,
  • and then if he liked the music, then he put it on.
  • And he was the first person in Rochester
  • to play "Sunshine on my Shoulders," by John Denver.
  • Because there's no mention of whose shoulders they're on.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Wow.
  • And what was it called?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: It was called Green Thursdays.
  • CMF couldn't go that far.
  • But during the course of its existence,
  • he explained that over the air.
  • But it just never got written down anywhere.
  • But it was Green Thursdays.
  • After two years, he couldn't sustain it anymore at that rate
  • of every-- every--
  • Wednesday night, especially since he was doing it for free,
  • and CMF was loving that.
  • And so he went to--
  • Marge David?-- Who was the presider at GROW in '74?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: At where?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: At GROW.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: At GROW.
  • Were they still around?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah, it would have been Patti Evans.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, she was never president.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Then it would have been Marge David.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: So he went to the women and said,
  • we've been doing it for two years.
  • I can't do it any more all by myself.
  • I want to-- and you need to be helped.
  • And Patti Evans and somebody else
  • took over at alternative Wednesdays.
  • But it was Wednesday night at midnight, it was lots of fun.
  • I was the color commentator, he was-- it was his show.
  • So I sat on the couch and laughed at his jokes.
  • But we did some really good stuff.
  • He read the news.
  • It was the start of the column that
  • is now in the Empty Closet of things
  • happening elsewhere in the world.
  • Because when he got done giving that stuff,
  • he always turned it over to the Empty Closet editors.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And the women called it Queer Nation?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No.
  • Women Nation.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Womenish?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Woman Nation.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Woman Nation.
  • Me
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No, it was Queer Nation.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We're going to settle this one.
  • This one I know Patti Evans knows the answer to.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: It's in the Empty Closet.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: If she answers her phone.
  • But they took the alternate Wednesdays.
  • But CMF taped everything on cassettes.
  • And--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Where are they now?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Bruce has them.
  • If they're still in--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Bruce Woolley?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Bruce Jewel.
  • Patti, what, was the name of the women's radio show
  • that was alternating with Green Thursdays?
  • PATTI EVANS: Lesbian Nation
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Lesbian Nation?
  • PATTI EVANS: Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: OK.
  • Thank you.
  • You go back to your internet.
  • We're just having a discussion and I was having a brain block.
  • PATTI EVANS: Oh, OK.
  • (unintelligible)
  • BOB CRYSTAL: OK, bye.
  • PATTI EVANS: She is really into the internet.
  • She's talking to people in Australia, England, France.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So Lesbian Nation.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Lesbian Nation.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: How long did the show then continue?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Another two years.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So about four years total?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: And CMF ended it.
  • We would have gone on long much longer.
  • That was one of the reasons why Bruce decided
  • to go back to San Francisco.
  • Was that there was nothing holding him here.
  • Genesee hospital was glad to see him go.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Is he still alive?
  • Still in California?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Who, Bruce?
  • Yeah.
  • He's in Fresno.
  • He's retired.
  • He's living with his partner, Mike,
  • and they just sold the big house and moved into a condo.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You and he, I think, came to an event
  • at the Alliance, and we spoke about the tapes, from--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: '72 to '74.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: WCMF.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And you were sure--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I encouraged him to give them to you.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • And he has not.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Would you like his address
  • where you could write to him and ask him again?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I would.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Doesn't even need to send them all.
  • Just some that would be a good example.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Does he still have them?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Unless he threw them away.
  • I don't see why he would do that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: OK.
  • And could you give me his phone number, if you have it.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Don't write on his stuff, write on your own stuff.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I can give you paper.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Is-- wow.
  • 6260 North Palm Avenue.
  • Apartment 122.
  • I don't know whether this is the current phone
  • number, because he just moved.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well I can--
  • if he doesn't use a cell phone, I'm sure I can find it.
  • That's 533 or 593?
  • 433?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: 433-5379.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So that lasted four years.
  • We're just kind of going with this
  • in a kind of a linear fashion here.
  • Back to the Gay Alliance.
  • How long did you remain working with the Alliance in--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Started working for Monroe County in September
  • of '77, and having an asocial lover
  • and a full time job sort of faded me out pretty quickly.
  • I was still going to meetings as late as '78 or '79.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So you were pretty much
  • there in the early years, getting it up and going,
  • and [INAUDIBLE]
  • BOB CRYSTAL: I'd say, yeah, by the time it was institutional,
  • I was gone.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Why do you think something
  • like the Gay Alliance was so significant for a city
  • the size of Rochester?
  • I mean, does it surprise you--
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That a community like this one
  • would be so proactive?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, it doesn't.
  • I think that Rochester is much more liberal than it thinks.
  • And I think the suburbs of Rochester
  • are much more liberal than they think.
  • Their own self-image is over-conservative.
  • But if you ask them their opinions on topics,
  • aside from politics, and I think that there
  • are enough people out in Rochester
  • that the effect of that is stronger here than it is.
  • The percentage of gay people who are out in Buffalo
  • is significantly smaller than here.
  • I have friends who moved to Buffalo,
  • and they're saying that people are amazed that they're out.
  • I would never tell my landlord that I'm gay.
  • Why not?
  • Well, she's a conservative little Italian Catholic.
  • So what?
  • So's my landlady.
  • That's what my friend told me people he was meeting.
  • So was my landlady.
  • And she loves it.
  • She even has a gay nephew that she wants me to meet.
  • You know, it's one of those--
  • give an ethnic grandmother a chance,
  • and she'll do matchmaking.
  • No matter what.
  • But Rochester has got a higher proportion
  • of people who are out--
  • I think Tim Mains, when they write his epitaph,
  • is going to say, he was out.
  • We've had mayors and sheriffs who have
  • had gay people in their family.
  • We've had we've had mayors who were
  • hugely sympathetic councilpeople who were hugely sympathetic.
  • What was-- lonely what's-his-name, even he was--
  • the lone Republican on the city council?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Shiano?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: It started with a D.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Daschino.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: He's a defense lawyer.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Now?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Paul-- no, not now.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Not Dinapoli?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, Paul--
  • at any rate.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: We had one lone Republican on the city council
  • back in the '70s and '80s, and he that was his motto,
  • is, I'm the lonely little Republican on the council.
  • And even he-- put him up against any Republican
  • from Syracuse or Buffalo, and he looked like a Democrat.
  • He would look like a raving lunatic
  • compared to some of them.
  • Rochester may call itself Smug Town,
  • but it is really a very progressive town.
  • We are the west end of the burned overlands.
  • We have come up with some of the most radical stuff
  • in the country out of this neighborhood.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I always say it's something in the water.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Finger Lakes.
  • Water from the Finger Lakes.
  • It's the feng shui of the Finger Lakes, they're all pointing--
  • (laughter)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Aside from getting out there
  • with the Speaker's Bureaus and really addressing people
  • at city hall about the issues, police harassment and whatever,
  • what are some of the other greatest challenges
  • that you found throughout the '70s and '80s and into the '90s
  • or whatever?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Failures?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Not failures, but challenges.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Well, challenges that we didn't quite meet.
  • Until the last ten years, getting
  • Gannett to run articles about gay people.
  • And I think that our biggest argument with Gannett
  • was, if we can fill the Empty Closet,
  • why can't you fill one page in the B section.
  • And we never did convince anybody until--
  • ten years ago they started doing that one article on page 3B.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: With Deb Price?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Was it Deb-- no, no.
  • I was shocked when the Deb Price column started,
  • but for the longest time--
  • it hasn't been happening lately--
  • but there was on page 3B of the DNC,
  • there was always an article about DOMA
  • or Don't Ask Don't Tell, or gay marriage
  • in Spain, or in Brazil.
  • There was always some article.
  • Sometimes they weren't so great articles,
  • but they were actually looking at the gay articles
  • on the newswire and actually using them.
  • But that was--
  • I don't know who--
  • maybe that's because Gannett finally has a gay caucus
  • amongst its employees.
  • I don't know.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Maybe they realized they're not
  • selling as many papers?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Maybe they should start
  • appealing to more than just--
  • yes, one demographic.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Some challenges that
  • were hard fought and, I didn't fight them,
  • but I'm really pleased they were won,
  • were the gay caucuses and amongst the employees of Xerox
  • and Kodak.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Were you here for CEDA
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • I played bridge with--
  • senility is an awful thing in the young.
  • The head of CEDA was a friend of mine.
  • And he--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Bob Sweeney?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: He lived over where I live now.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The head of CEDA it was administered
  • through the Urban League.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, there was a guy in the county CEDA Monroe
  • county CEDA.
  • He's dead, and we now say that he was the memorial devil.
  • Toby Hayes.
  • Toby Hayes.
  • Sweetest guy, most tolerant guy, very, very proactively liberal.
  • Talking people into doing things because it's the right thing
  • to do.
  • And you'll make a profit, oh by the way.
  • But we had a lot of difficulty getting
  • Lucian Moran to do anything.
  • He was a really nice guy, that he would never say shit
  • even if he had a mouthful, but you would not
  • get off his conservative dime.
  • But he was not aggressive about it.
  • If there was a liberal, that liberal didn't lose his job.
  • If somebody spoke out for us, they
  • didn't get unemployed real quick.
  • He was just, eh, it's not my, it's not my--
  • some of the ragamuffins who got promoted
  • to take his place, and the head of the Republican parties--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Enough said.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What are some of your favorite memories?
  • Favorite triumphs?
  • Most exciting times?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: There's a picture in that group
  • that I gave you of Bridget playing soccer
  • in Genesee Valley Park.
  • That was just idyllic.
  • It was a beautiful day.
  • It's a beautiful park.
  • The gays-- "the gays"--
  • took it over.
  • We owned Genesee Valley Park that day.
  • It was just fantastic.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember what year that was?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: '73.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: '73.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: 1973.
  • OK.
  • Was that the first time there was that kind of gay picnic?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: No, we had done it under the radar.
  • And Jim's--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: --forever
  • BOB CRYSTAL: --Jim's had been doing a picnic in the park,
  • but they didn't publicize it.
  • This was the first one-- and Jim's got behind it too.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The bars paid for the picnic.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: Yeah.
  • But it was-- we took over the whole park.
  • If you were in the park, it was--
  • you weren't cruising, you were eating hot dogs
  • and drinking beer.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: How many people?
  • Do you remember?
  • BOB CRYSTAL: At least 500 that I counted.
  • And and it was during the day.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • BOB CRYSTAL: So that it was like, nobody who had a job
  • was there.
  • Nobody who couldn't get away from--
  • you had to get away from work to get there.
  • So it was-- again, it was the young, optimistic kids.
  • but there were solid, steady people.
  • I mean Whitey was there, Jay was there, Karen Hagberg was there.
  • But they all were able to get away from their jobs.
  • But it was a fun time.
  • The radio show-- great.
  • I mean, it was like, I'm a celebrity.
  • I'm on at midnight.
  • And it was a wonderful time.
  • It was a time to be optimistic.
  • The flower children were maturing and getting jobs
  • and having an influence.
  • As I said, AIDS hadn't arrived and penicillin had.
  • And so it was free love.
  • And it wasn't dirty.
  • I remember sex in the '60s--
  • I was the only person who didn't think it was dirty.
  • I remember arriving at Cornell and going to the bar
  • and getting picked up.
  • It was a chanticleer.
  • It was a dive, and it was dirty, and it was obviously--
  • the cops were obviously being paid off.
  • And so was the health department.
  • And this guy picked me up.
  • And it was like, eww, it was--
  • I was out there, and he was going,
  • no we've got to be quiet.
  • Got to be da da da da da.
  • Once we're outside the bar, you can't be flaming or anything.
  • And every gay guy has to swing all the way over to this end
  • before he comes back to where he's really is.
  • And so it-- Ithaca and Rochester both had
  • places where young men who were finding out how much they