Audio Interview, Tim Tompkins, August 23, 2011

  • ANNOUNCER: Saskatchewan up ahead.
  • It had just skipped a right turn.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I have done the--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I'm not the most tech savvy type.
  • Most things, I prefer to have someone else do.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: They've long passed.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Oh my goodness.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But in terms of the AIDS crisis,
  • and the police chief, when I talked to John Arnie
  • last night--
  • see this, it just blows my mind.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It was actually Gordon Urlacher
  • that was helpful with that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • But prior to that, we didn't have a liaison.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I don't think so.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You came into the business of entrepreneurship
  • in Rochester around 1961, 1962.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Oh no.
  • I didn't come into business until--
  • the gay business?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: My first gay business, I think,
  • was buying into that Roman sauna,
  • which is now the Rochester Spa and Body Club, in 1982.
  • Then I opened The Liberty, which was a really popular gay bar,
  • obviously, in June of 1984.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And then you had The Pentagon?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Oh, well, I did t hat with Mark.
  • But I had thirteen or fourteen clubs over the years, so yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But when did you get--
  • I thought you told me the Rochester Body Club came
  • to you in payment for a--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: They actually sort of got
  • me involved in the ownership.
  • Because two of the partners really wanted
  • me to be a partner, apparently.
  • Which was unbeknownst to me, at the time.
  • So they had to do some work up there as a contractor.
  • And then they, well we don't necessarily have all the money
  • right at the moment.
  • And then they said, this partner wants out.
  • And they sort of talked me into buying his share.
  • In lieu of payment, to a degree. and doing something out
  • of this--
  • (phone rings)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I said to Tim, he got the business--
  • the gay business-- when he did some work at the Rochester Body
  • Club--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah, I was reading about that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: As a construction company.
  • And they couldn't pay him.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Or they didn't want to.
  • I'm not quite sure, still to this day.
  • But actually, my first--
  • when I got to Saint Bonaventure, I did a little contracting
  • company with my father.
  • He was a carpenter, Rick Ample type.
  • So I actually remodeled Friar's Inn for Jesse Bulo.
  • And Jesse and I became buddies.
  • And then I ended up--
  • then Jesse recommended me to the guys down at the spa.
  • So then I went over there did a job for them.
  • And that's how I got involved with that.
  • Yeah, it's funny.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You brought your recorder?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I did.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • The best way to handle this is, one person ask the questions
  • while the recorder is going, and the other person just
  • keeps writing notes.
  • Which are you more comfortable with?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I'll write the notes.
  • You ask the questions.
  • I've already asked Tim--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I'm sure you've probably asked half of them
  • already.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Well, no.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you want a pad, or?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I got this.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • Tim, this is just, more of us, our way
  • of getting to know you a little bit better.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Sure.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And how we might be able to fit you
  • into this eventual documentary.
  • So that we have a better idea, when we do,
  • maybe, find the company with the camera, a better idea of what
  • we're going to be asking you.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Sure.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So it's just a casual conversation,
  • just to get to know you, and how you've
  • come up through the ranks, particularly
  • in the gay community.
  • And very supportive of the gay community.
  • But now I want to turn the focus on the gay community.
  • I really want to look at the community as a whole,
  • and what you've done for it.
  • Fair enough?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Sure.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Are you recording?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes, it's on.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So why don't we just first start--
  • you grew up in the area.
  • Just talk me about your childhood, your boyhood.
  • You know, what was the Rochester area--
  • and I know you grew up in Wayne County, eventually.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah, actually it was the last couple
  • of years of high school.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • So, what was this community, this area, like, growing up?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, I had a very good childhood, I think.
  • We did move every four or five years,
  • partially because my father was remodeling properties like,
  • got it done.
  • So we went twice on Black Creek and Chili, Churchville area.
  • So I can remember being in seventh grade
  • at Churchville-Chili.
  • Then we moved to Gates Chili.
  • Then eventually, the last few years were at Wayne Central.
  • So a lot of Chili operating, Spencerport Chili area.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: When are we talking about?
  • Late '60s, '70s?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I was born in '54.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: '54, OK.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Graduated high school '74, '73 I think.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So '60s early '70s,
  • were a good, kind of formative, years of your youth?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah, right.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Looking back at those years in Rochester,
  • what was your sense about Rochester
  • being either a very progressive city, or a very conservative,
  • or did you get a sense of that?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: No, I think I had a sense of that.
  • I thought it was a good place to live.
  • Clearly we were proud of Xerox, Kodak.
  • Bausch and Lomb doing it in those years.
  • And I think business overall was good.
  • I can remember feeling very positive about eventually
  • probably becoming an intern--
  • you know, even as a little boy, I always
  • knew I'd be in my own business.
  • (unintelligible) Definitely.
  • I still feel good about Rochester, overall.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: We're going to get to that a little later.
  • Just kind of moving on, I read that you--
  • in one of these interviews that you did--
  • that you didn't actually come out as a gay person
  • until college years.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Right.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But you had a sense of it
  • when you were in high school, which most of us did.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Right.
  • I had a sense of it when I was seven or eight years old.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • Were there years before college that you
  • got a sense of the gay community in Rochester?
  • Did you know of it?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: No, really didn't.
  • I had a couple liaisons with people,
  • I think in junior or senior high school.
  • That was it.
  • Lived a pretty much straight life, at that point.
  • Went to Saint Bonaventure.
  • And then, I do remember being at Saint Bonaventure, quite
  • a few priests and brothers hitting on me
  • sexually, quite frankly.
  • And at the time, it kind of a turnoff.
  • Because maybe I was even a little conservative--
  • it's much more conservative, then.
  • In terms of values, I would show little life, or whatever.
  • Kind of a strict Catholic upbringing on my mother's side
  • of the family.
  • Although we weren't Catholic, because my father and mother
  • couldn't marry, because my father wasn't a Catholic.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh, no, really?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • I think I was brought up in a pretty conservative fashion.
  • And I was certainly nervous about being the number one
  • child, the oldest child.
  • Probably dad and mom's favorite, if there is one, right?
  • Certainly my father was living vicariously through me
  • later in life.
  • That was clear to all of my family members.
  • I didn't want to disappoint them, and come home
  • and say I was gay.
  • I finally did in, I think, my sophomore or junior year
  • of college.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What brought you to that point?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think I was borderline
  • depressed about living a lie.
  • And not being able to-- my father
  • brought me up not to ever lie.
  • Certainly not to defraud him or my mother, especially.
  • And I was on my conscience that I was not
  • being honest with the two people I probably love the most.
  • So it was just constantly building up.
  • It's kind of a funny story, how I did come out.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let's hear it.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I came home.
  • And it was Friday afternoon.
  • And my mother said, what's wrong?
  • I said, I'm just not that happy.
  • And I didn't really want to discuss it
  • with her, at that point.
  • And she worked at the Genesee Mental Health Center
  • at the time.
  • And I had met boss.
  • Everyone may know the name, Dr. Susan Hanson.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I've heard of the name.
  • But yeah.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: We're very proud of this psychiatrist for years,
  • here.
  • And one of the first female psychiatrists,
  • I think, in the Rochester area.
  • And eventually ran the mental health center for
  • Genesee Hospital.
  • And so my mother called her up.
  • She said, Susan-- my mother worked for her full-time--
  • my son, he's just-- it's not him.
  • It's not like him.
  • So she was opening up the in-house unit for Genesee
  • Hospital, late Saturday.
  • She said, bring him in, eight o'clock in the morning.
  • So I actually was with her from eight o'clock
  • on Saturday to 11:00 a.m.
  • And this is absolutely the truth.
  • I never felt bad about being gay again.
  • So it was interesting, you know?
  • She really made me feel totally different.
  • And I never did.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And that's interesting, back
  • in that decade.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah, that was like 1976 or so.
  • To have that meeting with her.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well also interesting that your mother
  • would have the foresight that--
  • know that something was wrong.
  • Of course, I think all mothers do, probably.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think my mother was waiting.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, definitely.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It wasn't that easy, then.
  • You know people were--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: A lot of them, they weren't exposed to it.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Especially my father,
  • was a man's man type of guy.
  • I used to go out deer hunting with him,
  • and hunting pheasants with him, and you know what I mean?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So how did they take it?
  • It seems to me like they took it fairly well.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think at first they were a little shocked.
  • Maybe at first my father was a little disappointed.
  • He thought he might not have grandchildren with me,
  • or you know?
  • But it was evident within six months or so
  • that they both completely accepted it.
  • So I think went pretty smooth sailing, after.
  • Much better than some people have.
  • And I realize that.
  • And I think, just another facet of my live
  • where I was lucky, in a sense.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Sure.
  • So you graduated from Saint Bonaventure, '78?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: 1978.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • Was it at that point, then, you started getting out
  • into the gay community?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yep, definitely.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: In Rochester?
  • What was it like?
  • Talk to me about--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It was a lot of fun.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: How so?
  • Why?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, first of all, we were the baby boomers.
  • So there was a wide range of guys out there, right?
  • And it was fun times.
  • It really was.
  • If you were out raising hell a couple nights a week,
  • that's the way it was.
  • And I'm sure some people would say
  • today, well, it was excess partying, or whatever.
  • But I got to tell you, it was one of the most fun
  • times in my life.
  • Going to Friar's and knowing the owner,
  • and meeting all kinds of people, and having fun.
  • It really was.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: When did Friar's start?
  • How long was Friar's?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think Friar's probably started around 1970.
  • But he owned The Rathskeller before that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Jesse Bulo.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Jesse Bulo.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Owned the Rathskeller.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: B-U-L-O. Yeah.
  • And he was an amazing guy, to me.
  • Because again, I was a young guy,
  • and he was older, but quite a mentor.
  • A successful number of different enterprises, as well.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What was your sense
  • as far as the gay community goes, here in Rochester,
  • during that time period?
  • As far as the sense of people's openness about it?
  • Because as far as I hear, that's--
  • (interposing voices).
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think verbally, it certainly
  • wasn't like it was today.
  • But quietly, I think it was accepted.
  • There were suspicions that one mayor who wasn't--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Barry?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: An official mayor.
  • A city manager, the man--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • Before we started electing mayors.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: He was Stephen, what's his name?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Stephen May.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah, that he was gay, you know?
  • You had Midge Costanza.
  • I mean, right?
  • Let's face it, you had a huge liberal influence
  • at the U of R. And I think that's what
  • really helped fortify and project
  • the gay community in this area.
  • And I think you had a huge liberal influence in accepting,
  • in that regard.
  • I think there were some facets of the city, and the community,
  • that didn't accept it.
  • I can remember when I opened up my first gay bar in 1984.
  • Literally every Friday and Saturday
  • night, this old Sergeant would come in at 5:02,
  • and stare me and my customers down,
  • to make sure didn't go one minute past serving.
  • And you could just see, he was scowling at gay men.
  • Yeah.
  • And to Gordon Urlacher's credit--
  • later had a fall from grace--
  • I did call Gordon Urlacher, I think
  • he was a Lieutenant, then.
  • Because he was kind of friendly.
  • And he was in the downtown area.
  • And I said, I got a a real problem with this guy.
  • I can remember exactly what he said to me, today,
  • on the phone.
  • He said, Tim, you're never going to to see him again.
  • And you know what?
  • I never saw that Sergeant again.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Interesting.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: And it was interesting that he did that.
  • He didn't have to, right?
  • He was progressive enough to say that this guy is running
  • a good business, he's not in trouble with us,
  • he improved a building.
  • Why the hell should that Sergeant
  • be in there hassling him?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You're paying taxes.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I later paid Gordon Urlacher back for that,
  • in a number of way.
  • But I thought it was--
  • you kind of like Gordon Urlacher, too.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mm-hm.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It's a shame, what happened to the guy.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I don't really know him.
  • It's before my time.
  • I don't want to say before my time, but--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: He was the Chief of police, and very popular.
  • Very charismatic individual.
  • Went right up the ranks fast, became Chief.
  • But had a fall from grace, because he and his associate,
  • Roy Ruffin, were convicted--
  • or I don't know if Roy was--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh, no I who you're talking about, right.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Of taking money, or evidence, or money out
  • of the evidence fun.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yep.
  • Yep.
  • Now I know who you're talking about.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: So it was quite sad, because--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was like, in the '90s.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: He was a guy who could have been mayor, also.
  • He could have been a police Chief turned mayor, as well.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And Urlacher was the first police
  • liaison in the gay community?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • Now his name is coming back to me.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: But I think part of that
  • is because we were pals.
  • And it all worked nicely, it really did.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So it's fun times in the 1980s.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yep.
  • Late '70s, '80s.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Late '70s, a lot of good social outlets.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Until, you know, all of a sudden, I remember--
  • I can't remember which bar I had at that point.
  • It might have just been the Liberty, still.
  • And I started hearing rumblings about this disease.
  • San Francisco, New York, and no one
  • even had an acronym, or a name for it, yet.
  • It was even before they called it GRID.
  • Gay-Related Immune Disorder, before that.
  • And somehow I think Sue Cowell and I talked,
  • and I can't remember if I flew Tim Sweeney up,
  • or if he came up on his own.
  • But I organized a meeting with him, talking to gay men.
  • And he said, look, we've got a real problem on our hands.
  • This is going to really be scary.
  • You're going to-- you know.
  • And then, sadly, for me personally, at the same time,
  • Jesse Bulo got sick.
  • And yeah, I don't know if it was ever discussed
  • that he had AIDS, until--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What year?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think he died before the acronym
  • AIDS came about.
  • Can ask Bobby about that.
  • So we had Tim Sweeney up, and then, from that point
  • on, things changed.
  • At least for me.
  • Because I saw a lot of people get sick and die.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The '80s,
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Late '80s.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: And one time, I remember
  • we were naming rooms after people, AIDS Rochester,
  • and I was donating money for rooms,
  • and I actually just took a pad of paper.
  • And I stopped at sixty-five names.
  • That was a lot of people to know, personally,
  • in one way or another, that died.
  • So yeah, fun times hit a wall, in a sense.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, and we'll get into that.
  • It also changed who we were, in the community's eye.
  • Well let's talk about opening your first bar.
  • That was '84, you said?
  • Which bar was that?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: The Liberty.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was the Liberty, OK.
  • Let's talk about your choice of opening a bar like that.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, I spent a lot of time
  • over at Friar's, and I thought, gee, I could do this.
  • And although I just remodeled Friar's space,
  • I didn't really like way it looked, in terms
  • of spatial constraints.
  • It was a small building, and the dance floor was real tiny.
  • And I sort of thought, I could design a better space
  • than this.
  • So I didn't really want to compete with my friend, Jesse.
  • But then he said to me, you're going to do something.
  • And he wanted to be my partner.
  • But then he got real sick, and that all changed.
  • So eventually, I just did this project.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let me pull you back on that, a little bit,
  • then.
  • Because you hit something with it.
  • Your vision of what you wanted to do with the Liberty, what
  • do you think you were doing that wasn't already out there?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: You know, in my opinion, for the most part,
  • there just weren't really nice gay bars at that point.
  • Some were owned by straight people
  • just sort of taking advantage of gay people.
  • Some were--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Owned by the mob.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • The lesbian bar off of--
  • was owned by the mob for years.
  • At Allen Street.
  • And I just thought we were sort of
  • treated like second-class citizens,
  • to a degree, when it came to that.
  • I had an interest in creating something really nice.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: However, this was
  • in the midst of the whole AIDS epidemic,
  • really starting to come to a head.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It was started, yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What were some of the challenges in starting
  • a bar?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I don't think the bar was
  • affected by that at all.
  • Certainly spas were.
  • It was kind of ironic, right after I bought into the spa,
  • there was a cover of Newsweek.
  • The AIDS Crisis.
  • And then, this is literally right afterwards.
  • And the sales went down $2,500 a week.
  • I remember that.
  • And I remember saying to myself, what kind of investment
  • did you make here?
  • So that eventually took some of the business back.
  • But for a long time-- you know, they closed all of them
  • in New York City.
  • Except for someone-- who is now a friend of mine--
  • who I didn't that he owned two of the smallest ones.
  • And he got under the radar.
  • They closed all the ones in 700, or 800, 900 rooms.
  • Which, there was four to five of them at that point in time.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Wow.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • They closed them all.
  • And his two tiny places are open.
  • So he became an instant multi-millionaire
  • in New York City.
  • Because he had the two smallest ones, and they were open.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, so in '84 you got Liberty going.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Mm-hm.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That went into the '90s, didn't it?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think so, yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because I know I started coming out around '89,
  • and I remember going there.
  • Well, then this opportunity with the bathhouse came along?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: No, the bathhouse was first.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Was that first?
  • What year was that, then?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think it was '82.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That was '82.
  • Oh, OK.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Somewhere, '81 or '82.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, well then let's jump back a little bit.
  • There's this opportunity with the bathhouse.
  • To be blunt, I would just say to you, why?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • Well I sort of got tricked into it.
  • There was three partners.
  • Two of them didn't like the third partner, I guess.
  • So I did a remodeling job, and they sort of
  • said, well, we don't really have the cash right now.
  • They sort of fibbed a little bit.
  • But I realized later, they sort of wanted me in on the deal.
  • Maybe for real estate advice, or maybe for construction.
  • Or maybe because I was younger.
  • Maybe because they could see I was going to be up and coming.
  • I don't know for sure.
  • But it was clear to me, years later,
  • it was a calculated plan.
  • So I wasn't really--
  • you know, I had been to a bathhouse a couple times.
  • But it really isn't my style.
  • I'm more of a romantic type, quite frankly.
  • And this may sound odd that the guy owns the bathhouse.
  • But it was just another business, for me.
  • Do you know what I mean?
  • Right now I own five businesses.
  • It's just the way I am.
  • So it was a business.
  • It didn't really turn me on a personal level.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well I wanted to hit upon that.
  • Because it was like, OK, was this just a business decision?
  • Or did you think you were still offering something
  • to the community?
  • Or a little bit of both?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, again, I think
  • I made that place 100 times better.
  • I'm an improver.
  • I like to buy something that is in a state of disrepair,
  • or not looking good, and make it wonderful.
  • That's my MO.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But then again, we got hit with AIDS.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So then you're second guessing your choice
  • of taking on--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I got to second guess myself.
  • For one thing, I didn't really identify with it, personally.
  • It obviously seemed, now, not to me
  • a solid financial investment.
  • At times I thought, well, am I-- this is very, you know, oh,
  • was I contributing to AIDS by keeping it open?
  • But I quickly realized that actually, in essence,
  • I probably helped save lives.
  • Because we had safe sex literature in each room, and we
  • had condoms.
  • And people are going to have sex no matter what.
  • Young kids are still getting it, unfortunately.
  • They don't even go to bathhouses anymore.
  • Seven years ago, Forbes said--
  • they listed ten extinct businesses.
  • One of the items on the list, on the front page of Forbes,
  • was gay bars.
  • An I'll predict, within another five to ten years,
  • spas will be extinct, too.
  • So I've already got plans to change my building
  • into loft apartments.
  • The spa today is Grindr on someone's phone.
  • I was amazed.
  • This gay kid was showing me.
  • He was at one, and he goes, here.
  • Mr. Tompkins, look at this.
  • And he just-- all these pictures of these guys.
  • And it even shows you whether they're
  • half a mile from you, or not.
  • This is the bathhouse of this century.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well are you surprised that the bathhouse
  • has lasted as long as it has?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • I am, actually.
  • I think it's, again, because we have a higher per capita
  • of gay men in the city.
  • So we've got baby boomers.
  • It's been there since 1962, so it's, I think,
  • the oldest bathhouse in New York State, probably, at this point.
  • Certainly one of the oldest ones in North America.
  • Just a little bit of history.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Still In existence.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Still in existence.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So were there other competition?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: At one time, there were
  • three bathhouse in Rochester.
  • There might have only been two when I bought into the spa.
  • But you know, Tom and Joan when they did Emory's Restaurant.
  • I don't know if they like to tell a lot of people,
  • but they did.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: What were the three bathhouses?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I don't know if I can remember the names.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: The Roman.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: There was one, The Roman
  • was the one at Liberty Pole Way.
  • And the other side of Liberty Pole Way,
  • which used to be on the second floor of the building I
  • actually bought.
  • It had a fire, and they never reopened it.
  • So I actually bought that building.
  • That's where I did the Liberty.
  • So I remember the whole second floor was a bathhouse, burned.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh, interesting.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: So we took everything out.
  • When I opened, I just did the first floor,
  • did the Liberty, when it began.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: While we're in the '80s,
  • let's talk a little bit about AIDS activism.
  • Obviously, your name comes up because you
  • were at the forefront of it.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Again, talk to me
  • about the atmosphere of the community, then.
  • What was going on?
  • Obviously, a lot of people were scared.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: A lot of people were scared.
  • But there was people who just immediately rallied
  • in this community.
  • And again, because I own the spa,
  • I remember being called upon for a founders
  • meeting for AIDS Rochester.
  • But I was a little nervous about me owning the spa,
  • and going to the meeting.
  • So I actually sent Alan Davidson,
  • who worked for me, at the time.
  • He's now known as a founder of AIDS Rochester, in fact.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK.
  • I know Alan.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah, so he was Alan, and Sue, and John.
  • They got the credit for founding AIDS Rochester.
  • But I just didn't want to be on the TV cameras,
  • and own the spa, at the time.
  • So we got it organized.
  • And we used to meet then were really pulled away.
  • I can't remember if we met on top of Tara's first.
  • Or I think we moved over there.
  • We first met in a basement of Creative Plastics,
  • because Mike Scarfia owned it.
  • And he had a gay son.
  • Or he had a son that got AIDS.
  • Whether he was out or not--
  • I don't think he was, maybe.
  • So we used to actually meet in a basement of a building.
  • This is how this organization started.
  • In my opinion, really, Sue Cowell
  • was probably the most important impetus.
  • I don't want to take away from other people.
  • But I've always sort of associate it with Sue Cowell.
  • Strong leadership, and a wealth of knowledge.
  • Considering other people--
  • Chip, and Evelyn, and me, Channel Tiery lots of people
  • played in important roles.
  • I'm not going to be able to think of all their names.
  • But we really certainly rallied, and made AIDS Rochester happen.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And you mentioned something,
  • right at the beginning, that I don't
  • want to lose the thought on.
  • Is that, this community rallied.
  • And that you say that a number of different ways.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It's always rallied.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Why do you think that is?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Whether it was for ESPA,
  • whether it was for gay rights before ESPA, whether it was--
  • a group of the older guys I don't
  • mean to sound like my buddy Dan Meyers.
  • He is 10 years older than me.
  • Dan Meyers, and Tom, and Joe, and Duffy Hickey and all kinds
  • of people got together and just used
  • to do fundraising with what's Helping People with Aids, HPA.
  • And that was needed, because AIDS Rochester
  • was just a fledgling little service organization,
  • in the beginning.
  • And HPA really got people together.
  • Threw a party.
  • They raised some big bucks.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Oh yeah, I know, I attended a few.
  • But I want to back to, why do you think
  • this particular community of Rochester
  • has that rallying spirit?
  • I'm not even necessarily on the gay community.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well I think they have a huge intellectual
  • capability in the gay community here,
  • where other cities and towns didn't.
  • You had (unintelligible) U of R professors.
  • You had executives, quietly, at Xerox Kodak,
  • and Bausch and Lomb.
  • At one point, I think we were in the top 5 percent per capita
  • for gay people.
  • Now we're down to, I think, 15 percent, but at one point
  • we were top five in the nation.
  • So you had a lot of people rallying to causes.
  • Intelligent people.
  • And our economy was good, too.
  • People could contribute.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • Let's hope that comes back.
  • So let's move on from the bathhouse, Liberty.
  • Let's move on from that point.
  • You're also known not only just for owning gay bars,
  • or whatever, but also as just a prominent businessperson.
  • Talk me about that part of your life.
  • And how do you balance that part of your life with the--
  • OK, this is the Rochester business life that I lead.
  • But this is also the gay community life I lead.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I never really had a problem.
  • I don't think I'm a banner-waver, necessarily,
  • but you can't become as successful as I have
  • in business in a small town like this without people knowing
  • if you're married or not, if you have children, or--
  • I mean, no one ever made a joke in front of my face
  • that I was gay.
  • But I'm sure I walked out of some meetings sometimes,
  • and people said, oh, do you know he's gay?
  • But honest to god, I never really--
  • and feel sorry for other people.
  • I've never really suffered from discrimination, personally.
  • I was immensely accepted in the straight world.
  • (phone vibrates)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Why?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, you know, I don't know whether it's--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you want to answer that or?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: No.
  • I don't know whether it's because maybe, at times, I
  • appear so straight-acting, or I don't know what it is.
  • Maybe it's because I'm successful.
  • Maybe they like my personality.
  • I don't know.
  • But I just never really felt any discrimination.
  • It sounds crazy, doesn't it?
  • But I never really did.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: There was a time prior
  • to Urlacher when everyone in power--
  • or in authority-- in this city seemed
  • to be at the parties of gay men that were thrown.
  • And then, that changed somewhat.
  • Was it the fact that you were so involved in--
  • I don't want to say in an elite circle.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Me personally, do you mean?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • But certainly not with the person
  • who's walking the street.
  • Or you mentioned intellectual and educational ideas
  • being the reason why the community rallied,
  • and had a more positive view, perhaps, of LGBT people.
  • So perhaps it was because you ran in those circles.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Oh, maybe.
  • I might speak from a little prejudice, I suppose.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And I don't want to look down
  • on people who are not as educated, or not as open.
  • But--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let me ask this question.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, let me make this clear, then, maybe.
  • I never felt discrimination.
  • But I certainly was aware of how my gay brothers and sisters
  • were discriminated against.
  • And I was very concerned how people were treated.
  • So I converted this one gay kid that was just coming out,
  • making fun of a guy who was a drag
  • queen, who was very effeminate.
  • And he actually said to me, this young gay kid
  • said to me, well why does he act like that?
  • I looked at him, and I said, Steve,
  • because that's the way he is.
  • He thought the effeminate side of his personality was--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Wasn't out.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Something left to the shower.
  • Yeah.
  • So I was clearly always aware.
  • And I used to this one guy, Phil Tiery-- do you remember Phil?
  • This guy looked like he had AIDS before AIDS came out.
  • He was 380 pounds, apparently, in high school.
  • And all of the sudden, went on a diet, and lost the weight.
  • He's a real character.
  • But you know, I could see that people were not
  • necessarily accepting of Phil.
  • He was flamboyant, and he was a real, real character.
  • And his mother and father were Kodakers.
  • And his father was a mariner at the Rochester Yacht Club.
  • And it was probably a little bit of an embarrassment,
  • at times, for them to have Phil.
  • But nonetheless, they loved their son.
  • But I always felt sorry for Phil.
  • Because people would make fun of him.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And that's a question I wanted to get into.
  • Your perception of, is there more than one gay community
  • in Rochester?
  • I think there's a lot of prejudice
  • within our own community.
  • In regards to classism, or feminism, or whatever.
  • Have you seen that all along?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I've seen that all along.
  • I don't know if you can find the Empty Closet.
  • Posit I might have it in my archives, somewhere.
  • But at one time I noticed a lot--
  • just the bars used to fight.
  • So if you were loyal to the Forum,
  • if you were loyal to the Liberty,
  • if you were loyal to Friar's.
  • I mean there was just so much war going on.
  • Or certain drag queens were camped against this drag queen
  • farm team.
  • And I think at one time--
  • I can't remember exactly what I worded.
  • But I took out the back page of the Empty Closet.
  • I said, we have enough enemies on the outside.
  • We shouldn't fight from within, or something.
  • Do you remember when I did this?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: A lot of people were pissed at me,
  • because I put that in writing.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember about what year that was?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: And maybe I shouldn't
  • have done it or written it, but I felt that way.
  • Like, god, here we are in a little microcosm of society.
  • And people were at each other's throats, sometimes.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: It was probably late '80s, early '90s.
  • I'll check it out.
  • I'll find it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, it'd be interesting to find.
  • From the '80s, up until--
  • what is it?
  • Thirty years later, now?
  • Oh my god.
  • How have you seen things change within the community?
  • They've changed drastically, I think.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah, I think so.
  • I think we're in a much better state, obviously.
  • Everyone reminded me that I said,
  • the challenge was for marriage.
  • Here we are.
  • Five years later, we have it, right?
  • You might have heard that my buddy, Bob Duffy,
  • was the first mayor to endorse marriage here.
  • And then he took it to United States Conference, to mayors,
  • and got it approved there.
  • Which was ballsy of him to do, really.
  • And it's interesting that him and Cuomo teamed up.
  • And here we are.
  • So it's an interesting combination
  • of events and people.
  • But Bob was certainly helped greatly
  • by Mark Siewic and Tim Tompkins.
  • Two people that aren't just gay, but are successful, right?
  • And between just those two names,
  • certainly moved him along in his fight to win that democratic--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So was there a point somewhere along the way,
  • where people like you, or Mark, or maybe Duffy, or whatever,
  • realized that our energies could be
  • used more effectively if we got more
  • into some political influence?
  • Or some political change?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well I personally got involved politically
  • because of the AIDS thing.
  • I'm not going to speak for Mark and Duffy.
  • I think Mark has more interest in politics than I do.
  • I know I got involved in politics mainly for AIDS.
  • But then I also get re-involved, maybe.
  • Certainly I helped certain people
  • along the way that were candidates.
  • But I got really excited about Bob Duffy's candidacy.
  • Because I trusted Bob.
  • I knew him.
  • I used to be the landlord for the downtown police station.
  • So I had a few business dealings with him.
  • I'd certainly met him, socially and professionally.
  • And I liked him.
  • So I sort of got re-involved, politically.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Jump in here if you--
  • I'm kind of running out of questions.
  • But I do want to look back at these years
  • that you've been involved as a businessperson in Rochester.
  • As an activist in Rochester.
  • As a person actively involved in the social scene in Rochester.
  • What do you think has been your biggest impact?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: In terms of the gay community, or?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: In general.
  • Whatever comes to mind, of who you are.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think that I'm most proud of supporting
  • causes, or giving back.
  • Although it's been fun to be successful,
  • monetarily, and achieve business--
  • you know-- levels.
  • It's always nice to be able to throw a party for a cause,
  • pay for the whole thing, or write a check,
  • or persuade people to do certain things at certain times that
  • would make the AIDS cause get better.
  • I think you reach a point where--
  • I like business.
  • For me, it's like playing Monopoly.
  • It's just a fun thing for me.
  • It really is.
  • You know what I mean?
  • I'll be fifty-seven in December.
  • But I wake up every morning--
  • I'm trying to text my assistant.
  • As soon as he will respond.
  • You know-- it's just the way I am.
  • I wake up happy every morning, and I
  • can't wait to get started.
  • It's just my nature.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: One house, two house, three house, four house,
  • than a hotel, then the next street, and the next street,
  • then monopoly.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So a similar question
  • to what I just asked you.
  • Just a slightly different way of asking.
  • Years from now, many years from now,
  • when people look back at who you are,
  • and what you've done with this community,
  • or done in this community, how do you want to be remembered?
  • How do you want them to look at you, and say, oh yeah,
  • Tim Tompkins, he did this.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I guess I hear this
  • from certain people at certain times.
  • I think want to just be known, that I was generous.
  • I'll be happy with that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: As you know, this is involved with a project
  • that we're calling Shoulders to Stand On.
  • And the people who have had active influence
  • on who we are today, and as far as we've come today.
  • On many different levels.
  • Whose shoulders do you stand on?
  • Who do you think, besides yourself,
  • may either have had a real impact in your life--
  • particularly within the gay community-- or really--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think when you're successful,
  • and you feel good about yourself,
  • in order to be either one of those two of those things,
  • I think you need good mentors, all along the way.
  • And for whatever reasons, I was blessed with real good mentors.
  • Since I was a little boy.
  • And I think I had a degree of self confidence because
  • of that.
  • I can remember when I was poor as a church mouse.
  • My father went broke.
  • We moved from Chili to Wayne Central.
  • I used to work for Judge Haylor on Buffalo Road,
  • Saturday morning.
  • I was like twelve or thirteen, maybe, or eleven.
  • And this guy was a big man.
  • He's the judge of our town over (unintelligible).
  • And he was a successful attorney.
  • And to me, he lived in this big mansion on Buffalo Road.
  • And I used to mow the lawn.
  • But he liked me.
  • And he had no grandkids up here.
  • He had two grandchildren in Washington.
  • So I was like an adopted grandchild for him,
  • it was clear.
  • And we'd work.
  • And sometimes he would just have me
  • do things which, I now realize, was probably
  • his way of instilling some discipline in me.
  • And then we'd have lunch together.
  • Then we'd go out and work in his yard, again.
  • And then we'd have dinner together.
  • So I can remember him at dinner, one time, saying to me--
  • well he used to call me Timmy.
  • He'd say, Timmy, you probably don't
  • realize how lucky you are.
  • But you'll be able to do some good things.
  • And you're going to be successful.
  • And he said, I just want you to remember one thing.
  • Please remember to give back.
  • Now, at the time, when I was going home
  • to a room where there is no paneling,
  • or drywall on my bedroom wall, and I
  • can remember certain teeth saying Cobain Insulation
  • between two studs.
  • And on a bad winter storm, the snow
  • would blow on my face and back.
  • I'm thinking, what the hell is this guy talking about?
  • But it always stayed with me.
  • And so I like to think that I honored his statement there.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: To be generous.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: He was a great man, definitely.
  • Just one example of someone who was a good mentor for me.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: We kind of touched
  • on this, and how things have changed over the last thirty
  • years.
  • You're more in tune with the community than I am.
  • How are things now?
  • Where are we headed?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, I think we're
  • going to be challenged economically, unfortunately.
  • And I think for years this town was blessed
  • with a lot of really successful gay people that
  • could write big checks, or can throw parties and gather money.
  • And I think that was a blessing in this town.
  • Will that be happening as much as it
  • did in the next five years?
  • I don't know.
  • I really wonder.
  • Right now Mark Siewic and I are talking
  • about maybe doing something just under (unintelligible)
  • I can see that some people are hesitant about how much
  • the ticket price should be.
  • It's interesting how--
  • I mean we're certainly in, nationally, a bad economy.
  • I have lots of thoughts on that.
  • I think that's going to be one of the challenges.
  • How are we going to fund the Gay Alliance?
  • Certainly ESPA, and AIDS Care, and Gay Alliance
  • are going to be competing for a much smaller pot.
  • Both at the state budget level, and, clearly,
  • Cuomo is going to be probably the most fiscally
  • conservative governor.
  • There's more to come, in terms of his activity there.
  • I was a fiscal Democrat when it wasn't
  • popular to be a fiscal Democrat.
  • So I think economics are going to be the challenge, probably.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And its impact on everything that we do?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah, on what we can do.
  • Right.
  • Because, like it or not, in politics
  • money still has a big role.
  • And when it comes to supporting AIDS Care--
  • which is going to be hurting for money, probably, soon--
  • where is the money coming from, right?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • Particularly when a lot of people don't think AIDS
  • is an issue, anymore.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Mm-hm.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Go ahead.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You said three years ago,
  • marriage equality was the next challenge.
  • And we talked about this before Kevin got here.
  • Legally, what rights are next?
  • In other words, we've got marriage equality.
  • But where do we go from here?
  • Is this the end of the road?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I don't know if it's the end of the road.
  • I think we still have a long road to go,
  • In terms of overall acceptance.
  • I think we need to make it easier for very young people
  • to deal with it.
  • Maybe I was lucky.
  • What if I had not come home?
  • I was probably severely depressed
  • about being gay the last two years of high school
  • and the first two years of college.
  • What if I wasn't as strong, and then, you know.
  • Right?
  • It definitely was the bottom for me.
  • But certainly some kids still commit suicide.
  • So I think making a better life for youth
  • is still very important.
  • And I think overall acceptance still has some avenues
  • to travel, definitely.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Can I ask, just so we can get this on paper,
  • because I don't want to lose it.
  • Your involvement with AIDS Care, and AIDS activism,
  • it's pretty self-explanatory.
  • What other things have you been involved with?
  • Youth groups?
  • We know about the politics.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think at one time or another,
  • I supported just about every gay rights cause out there.
  • Quite frankly.
  • I think I had the first fundraiser for Tim Mains
  • at the Liberty.
  • I can remember loaning AIDS ration money to make payroll.
  • That's how bad it was in the beginning.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Now, talk to me about Jackie Nudd, Paula
  • Silvestrone, and Jay Redman.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • Well that's a happy scenario.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Were they the right people at the right time?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: That's a happy scenario for me.
  • I'm glad to talk about that.
  • Because originally, Jackie Nudd was certainly an activist,
  • and brought some attention to it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: And Jackie Nudd was with AIDS Rochester, right?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: She was the first executive director, right.
  • But the flip side of Jackie Nudd was,
  • she was educated, not sophisticated,
  • and she could be really mean-spirited with certain
  • people at certain times.
  • So obviously, she saw me as an ally,
  • because I was extremely supportive, financially.
  • And I was on the board at that point, too.
  • But you know what one of the golden rules for AIDS activism
  • was?
  • You never disclosed someone's status.
  • And I was having lunch with her one day,
  • and she told me about another gay man I knew,
  • and she told he was HIV positive.
  • You know?
  • And then there was a couple other things
  • that came up in the community, in relation to that.
  • And then I went back to Sue Cowell.
  • And I said, Sue, I think we got a couple of strange things
  • going on, here.
  • And eventually, Sue Cowell and I led the fight
  • to get rid of Jackie Nudd.
  • Which did not make me popular, for a while.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I remember the news reports.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Now she was a little bit of a hero.
  • She'd go out drinking with the boys.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I remember the news reports.
  • In fact, I have videotape of it, I think.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • But she really did a great disservice.
  • She played her role.
  • And then this became commonplace in many AIDS organizations
  • throughout the country.
  • That the volunteer activist who got the job
  • was actually not suited, once the organizations
  • began to grown.
  • But it was really brutal.
  • We had to get AIDS Institute in here.
  • And I had to give depositions.
  • I was threatened by Jackie, and Jackie's girlfriend
  • at the time.
  • She tried to go after the spa a little bit, at that point.
  • It was just really nasty.
  • And then some gay brothers turned against me.
  • Why are you chasing after Jackie Nudd?
  • So it was a disheartening period for me, actually.
  • For an organization that, basically, I helped get going.
  • And was supporting in lots of different ways.
  • Time, and money, and fundraisers.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So Jackie was out.
  • And then it was Paula that came in?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Jackie was out.
  • Paula came in.
  • And then Paula asked me to go back on the board.
  • She had read all the transcripts, and she said,
  • I'd like you to consider coming back on the board.
  • So I said yes.
  • Actually at the time, she said, you know, I'd
  • probably like to consider you being president someday.
  • So I started coming back on the board.
  • But, at that point, there was a lot of funding pouring in.
  • And make no mistake about it, at some point, Paula
  • and I didn't get along.
  • And it was mainly over this.
  • That I felt-- we had $3 million at one time in reserves.
  • And in certain deposit classifications.
  • And it was just about the time that we had another resurgence,
  • and people becoming seropositive, you know.
  • And younger guys becoming positive.
  • So I got very alarmed and nervous about it.
  • And at the time, I think we had thirty caseworkers.
  • But the caseworkers were making money for AIDS Rochester,
  • at the time.
  • And I think we had four or five people in prevention.
  • And outreach, and counseling.
  • So to me, the scale was way out of whack.
  • So as a board member, I started pushing for--
  • at the time, a prevention worker was
  • a total cost of $32,000 a year.
  • I'm sure it's $50,000 now.
  • So she and I really locked horns over that.
  • I ended up leaving AIDS Rochester.
  • I think I was on the executive committee, I resigned.
  • And then I became president of HPA right?
  • So then I started raising money for HBA.
  • I did give some money to AIDS Rochester
  • as the president for specific uses,
  • but I did not just want to pad the fund.
  • You know what I really did?
  • I took care of the clients.
  • Because I had the HPA wish list, and I
  • would raise money, and just give them money for wish lists,
  • only for a while.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Excellent.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: So Paula and I didn't end up getting along.
  • Definitely that.
  • And then, I was never really overly involved at CHN.
  • I was more involved at Strong.
  • And AIDS Rochester.
  • You sort of had to pick your team, at that point.
  • But Bill Valenti, I remember Bill Valenti calling me up.
  • I'd like you to meet this guy.
  • And you know what?
  • I always liked Jay Redman And I still like him today.
  • As a matter of fact, his son worked for me me
  • for the summer years.
  • I gave his son a summer job.
  • It's just that, he's a very collegial, smart guy.
  • Everyone likes him.
  • And look what he's done.
  • He really is responsible for taking CHN to AIDS care.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: About merging them, and--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: And this is kind of funny.
  • I brought up at a board meeting, when
  • Paula was at AIDS Rochester, maybe
  • we should look at combining CHN and AIDS Rochester.
  • Well that didn't go well with Paula, either.
  • And you realize, Paula didn't really
  • offer to combine the two till she
  • had a severe back operation.
  • And she was announcing her retirement.
  • But I was happy to see, finally--
  • maybe fifteen years after I suggested it--
  • that they did combine.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, they did.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Because it really--
  • and clearly, now-- it makes even more economic sense
  • that they combine.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now, what has happened with HPA?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I was the president that disbanded it.
  • It was why I did it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because I was never quite clear
  • if it got disbanded, or if it just kind of merged
  • in with CHN, or something.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It's a funny story.
  • It not only got disbanded, but we gave out all the money,
  • like fools.
  • And then we didn't save any of the money.
  • So I just finally paid the last legal and accounting.
  • It cost me $2,300 to close out HPA legally
  • with the IRS and New York State.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Wow.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: They kept giving me hassle.
  • They wanted this and that.
  • Anyway, it's closed out.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But wasn't true, by the time--
  • because I was on the board of HPA
  • that last year, when we voted to terminate it--
  • that many of the things that HPA was providing for AIDS patients
  • was being covered by social services,
  • and by other agencies?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yes.
  • To me we were competing raising funds
  • with AIDS Rochester, Strong.
  • Who doesn't really raise too much funds, but occasionally.
  • And CHN, who was starving for funds.
  • AIDS Rochester had better funding at the time
  • than CHN did.
  • So I thought, well, why am I heading
  • an organization that's competing with these nonprofits?
  • We don't offer any services.
  • The best thing about HPA was that we have that wishlist.
  • Because everything else-- we really would--
  • Bill Valenti would come, and say, how about this grant?
  • So we'd give CHN a grant.
  • And AIDS Rochester would say, would you
  • give us money for a van?
  • So things like that.
  • | was an economics major.
  • And I'm a little bit of a pragmatist, at time.
  • So I'd probably like to see things
  • organized from macroeconomic point of view.
  • I just didn't see HPA.
  • I didn't see the relevancy of it, really.
  • And I persuaded the board to agree, I guess.
  • When I did, finally, there was a few people disappointed.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • I was never really quite sure of why it even started.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It started because there was no fundraising group.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • And I think that's why.
  • It was more to kind of conduit.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And there was no money.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It was also successful at fundraising.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Right.
  • (interposing voices).
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It perpetuates.
  • Yeah, it perpetuated itself in parts of town.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well it was a great idea, great concept.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: It became more difficult to raise money
  • in the later years, definitely.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It's interesting that a lot
  • of organizations-- other nonprofits--
  • are still trying to follow that same model.
  • But I don't think they're as successful.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: No.
  • I don't think so, either.
  • There was a unique group of people, unique period of time.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, definitely.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: But there's lots of fundraisers, now.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, I know.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: There's seven in my calendar, right night.
  • People are-- LEC and Mark Siewic and I
  • are going back and forth on dates,
  • and who should be on a committee.
  • And Sandor Frankel is asking the gay community to do something.
  • And Tom Privitere is communicating with me
  • every other day, lately.
  • And you know, Matt's trying to have one for a new guy--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So let me ask you this.
  • This really isn't for the interview.
  • But who really got LEC to turn around?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, I think it's Michael Bloomberg.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you?
  • OK.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: And I think that, the meeting--
  • I think Andrew's people and Bloomberg got together, sat LEC
  • down, and said, look, you're going to be taken care of.
  • I'm sure ESPA played a little role.
  • But ESPA compared to Cuomo and Bloomberg,
  • ESPA going to want to say he it all, probably.
  • Let's keep this off--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, right, exactly.
  • It's not for the interview, I was just curious.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Clearly, in my mind, it was Michael Bloomberg.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Bloomberg, yeah.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Because he can write the check.
  • He can gather up ten people and say, send this guy
  • the maximum amount.
  • Right?
  • Plus he can send it five different ways.
  • So I think it was Michael Bloomberg.
  • And I don't mean to insult anyone.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No, no, I was just curious.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Let me Go.
  • Back to CHN.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: But ESPA has been doing a great thing
  • over the years, personally, I think.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • And AIDS care.
  • Do you think there is still a need in this community--
  • or in any community--
  • for a separate health care facility and clinic
  • for AIDS patients?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: OK.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Or is it time--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, here's the way I see it.
  • Just three months ago, we had a meeting at one.
  • And it's called the President's Advisory Council for AIDS care.
  • Bill Valenti was there.
  • Several other members, Sue Cowell was there.
  • Jay Redman.
  • What's the person's name, that new one?
  • Do you know his--?
  • He's President of AIDS Care, now.
  • I can't remember his first name.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I don't know.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Anyway, there was maybe ten or eleven of us
  • in the room.
  • And the discussion was about how we're going to keep this going.
  • And I actually said to Jay Redman, I said, look,
  • I don't necessarily see a future for AIDS organizations.
  • And I don't.
  • I said, I think you're going to have
  • to be able to reach out to other members of the community.
  • Friends of gay and AIDS people, for health care.
  • Offer other types of treatment, drug treatment, or whatever.
  • And he started laughing, he said,
  • you know, that's exactly what I think.
  • So I think you're going to eventually see, probably,
  • the word AIDS come out of that company's name.
  • That's my prediction.
  • That's another-- it'll go out.
  • It'll be something health care.
  • Because you may not get some straight people
  • through the doors, just because it says AIDS Care.
  • So why do we have to be stubborn on the issue, right?
  • I don't want to be stubborn on the issue.
  • Because if we can get a pocket out
  • there, and help support the real cause,
  • I don't care what we call it.
  • That's what I feel.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, you have community health networks.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: So I think AIDS organizations
  • are going to become a little extinct, too.
  • The bottom line, it was always, and always will be,
  • an infectious disease.
  • And it all started, really--
  • that strong infectious disease--
  • Dr. Richard Reichman, who now invented Gardasil,
  • is a happy multi-millionaire.
  • Great guy, but he ran that infectious disease department.
  • He was kind of shy.
  • Brilliant man.
  • But kind of shy.
  • Bill Valenti, who is gay, still in the closet,
  • was a member of the infectious disease team at Strong.
  • And Richard Reichman and Valenti probably didn't really
  • get along that well.
  • And Valenti started being more of a camera guy,
  • because Richard was a little shy.
  • And I think it rubbed Richard wrong, a little bit.
  • And next thing you know, Valenti was on the street, I
  • need money for an AIDS organization.
  • And that's how I got that started.
  • But really, Valenti was an infectious disease guy
  • at Strong.
  • And this is how it all happened, right?
  • And this is probably where it's going to go back.
  • Because for a while, we had to do
  • some of our own organizations.
  • But again, it's mainstream, accepted.
  • Now the infectious disease unit at Strong is right down from--
  • I don't know what.
  • But it's mainstream hospital, right?
  • So I will predict that that will be called something else, soon.
  • And it'll have to survive that way.
  • Because it won't get the funding to just support AIDS patient.
  • And then, how much treatment do AIDS patients need?
  • Now people are down to one or two drugs.
  • And they can go for six or seven years on one or two drugs.
  • So the state may come down and say, guess what?
  • Or Blue Cross may say, we're not going to reimburse you
  • every three months for tests.
  • Make them every six months.
  • What's that going to the budget at AIDS Care?
  • What do you do with that doctor?
  • What do you do with the hematology unit?
  • So you're going to have to become more mainstream.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Tim, if you could make one statement
  • to young people today who are gay, in terms of advice,
  • in terms of how and who they are, what would you say?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Be thankful.
  • Be thankful, because this generation
  • did so much for them, in terms of AIDS,
  • in terms of gay rights.
  • And I'm not so sure the young kids really
  • have a sense of appreciation for that, maybe, at times.
  • I'm amazed by that, because--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: They don't know about it.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: They may not know about it.
  • They may not care.
  • They may be obsessed with Grindr.
  • I don't know.
  • But I don't really see a sense of appreciation.
  • There's a few young gay people--
  • well, the ones I know are in their thirties now.
  • I don't know twenty-year-old gays anymore, really.
  • But some of those thirty-year-olds
  • that worked for me in a viral blast
  • will say, we appreciate all you did, at times.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But that younger generation coming up now
  • doesn't--
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • I don't think it's--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: They haven't had issues, really.
  • There's still the bullying issues in school, and that,
  • but we all went through that.
  • But once they get out of school, and they get out into community
  • like, Rochester there's very few issues for them to fight for.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: So I would say, be thankful.
  • Be appreciative.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And my next question
  • is, who should Kevin and I interview.
  • besides yourself, for this project?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: We have a whole list of names.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I'm sure.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Just, off the top of your head?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, I doubt I'm going to give you
  • anybody you don't already have.
  • But certainly heroes for me, you, and Chick, and Sue Cowell.
  • I really find Sue amazing, because she's
  • been all around the circle, several times.
  • Whether it was AIDS, or whether it was gay rights,
  • or whether it was-- you know?
  • And I'm certainly happy to see her in charge
  • of the Gay Alliance, now.
  • I think it's a great fit for her.
  • And I hope that--
  • I'm sure it will be till retirement.
  • I hope, anyway.
  • And this woman is probably one of the kindest, most sincere,
  • just totally dedicated to--
  • no pay, right?
  • She just has done, and done, and done.
  • And her and Chick are so involved, initially.
  • And certainly, even though Mark Siewic and I
  • have had our little tiffs over the years, I think that--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And Dan Meyers.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: They played an important role.
  • In Meyers is probably one of my closest male, gay friends.
  • He is, I guess.
  • Maybe him and Ryan Nelson.
  • And Dan is-- look at Dan.
  • He's president of the Al Sigl Center.
  • And he really-- he's on the board, with the bishop.
  • And he's really a much more conservative man than I am,
  • probably.
  • In terms of circles and (unintelligible).
  • And he has to appeal to Republicans, conservatives,
  • for funding.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well it's funny.
  • If you know who Dan is, and you know of the social circles
  • that he runs in, you realize he is very much out there.
  • But publically, he's not.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah, he's careful.
  • He's careful.
  • And I think part of it is his job.
  • But he teases them, every now and then, with certain things.
  • So that's his way of educating them.
  • So yeah, Dan has done a lot, too.
  • But there's a huge list of people.
  • This town has been lucky.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah.
  • I think we're not representative of a lot of communities.
  • I think we're very fortunate.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Look at Ernie Eaner with the Bachelor Forum.
  • Real nice guy.
  • Ran his business.
  • And just a real--
  • a true gentlemen.
  • All the time he owned the Forum and I ran the Liberty,
  • we never had a cross word with each other, ever.
  • And we'd get together and collaborate and some events.
  • Just, there's been some really nice people in this town.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well this guy--
  • looking back at some of the years,
  • and things you've been involved in,
  • what's some of your fondest memories?
  • Where you had the most fun?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well I certainly--
  • listen, I will never deny that being a nightclub
  • owner, a gay nightclub owner, and a straight nightclub
  • owner--
  • in 1984 and 1985, I really did have the most popular gay club
  • outside of New York City.
  • And there would be 700 or 800 guys in line, sometimes.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Was this The Liberty?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • And then I started Idols, which was a straight club.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I remember Idols.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: When Jim's went out of business.
  • To be a young guy, and own those type of businesses,
  • was an immense amount of fun.
  • I'm not going to say it wasn't.
  • Plus, they were cash cows.
  • Sometimes I trick myself to say, don't
  • get carried away with yourself.
  • Because when you're a nightclub owner,
  • people are all over you, at times.
  • But I would have to say, clearly,
  • being a nightclub owner was a lot of goddamn fun
  • for a long time. (laughter)
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You still are.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well, I don't know,
  • unfortunately, I can't even stay up past midnight! (laughter)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: So what clubs--
  • I know you owned one.
  • I know that.
  • But what else do you own?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I don't know.
  • At one time, I either owned or financed
  • or was the landlord for fifteen clubs around here.
  • So I had the Z on St. Paul Street.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I remember Z.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I set up Richard [? Caza ?]
  • as, first, a lesbian bar, known as Justice.
  • And then I did the Pentagon with Mark Siewic, for a while.
  • I did Mirage.
  • And I don't know, I had a club in Buffalo for a while.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Never went South?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Huh?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Never went South to Florida?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: No, no, I don't really like Florida.
  • It's not my type of look--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Actually, that was my last question for him.
  • Is, why did you choose to stay here?
  • What was it about Rochester?
  • I know you said, you loved growing up here.
  • And you love the community.
  • But really, a man of your vision, and fortitude,
  • could go anywhere to make it even bigger.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: I think it's because of my mother.
  • Yeah.
  • I actually asked my mother if she would move to somewhere.
  • Metropolitan cities.
  • But she didn't want to.
  • Because she had nieces, and she had
  • a grandson and a granddaughter.
  • My sister's kids.
  • My brother didn't have kids.
  • He went out with an older woman, she had already had kids.
  • And I didn't have kids, which, if you
  • want to ask me what my only regret in life is,
  • not having a child.
  • I had a couple offers, and if I could go back in time,
  • I would have taken up--
  • these girls knew I was gay.
  • But even back then, it was quite normal, correct?
  • They wanted to have my baby.
  • And it would have out fine, probably.
  • Given what we know, now.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I always ask this question at the end.
  • What is it about you that people don't normally
  • know about you, that you would like them to know?
  • They know you as a businessman, they know you
  • as a social person, they know you
  • as a community giver, a generous man.
  • But what is it about you that, god, you know, I
  • wish people knew this about me?
  • TIM TOMPKINS: Well I don't know if I wish people knew about me,
  • but I think that some people think that I just maybe tripped
  • on some success, or whatever.
  • But I don't know too many other people that
  • probably work as hard as I do.
  • Whether it's on a nonprofit cause, or business,
  • I'm just a very industrious person.
  • if I could get my assistant back here tonight and work
  • till 11 o'clock with me, I'd love to have him here.
  • It's just the way I am, you know?
  • I really am a worker.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Ambitious.
  • TIM TOMPKINS: But I don't know if it's even so much ambitious.
  • I'm just a worker.
  • And I think some people don't really know that about me.
  • They think, oh, well, he was smart to make
  • those private loans when people weren't doing it.
  • Or, oh, he opened a bar at the right time.
  • Or he sort of has a knack at taking a property
  • and making it look good.
  • But I really think people don't realize that maybe I'm
  • just such a hard worker.
  • Here's somebody from City Hall calling me.