Driving through the Island City with a newbie promises plenty of laughs: Who knew you could shop at both a Gay Mart and a Bottoms and Tops -- in the same strip mall?
There's an awful lot of creativity flowing through Wilton Manors, the little Broward enclave that's mighty welcoming to boys who like boys. In fact, according to the Urban Institute, it's got a whopping 1,270 percent more gay men per capita than the national average.
Gays have long known that Wilton Manors is a comfortable place to call home
-- a safe suburban idyll to put down some roots and a white picket
fence; a place to grow a garden and establish a business;
where you go to settle down once you've played out South Beach's party-hard scene.
From the signage that currently blares across the WM landscape, you'd
never know that sexual orientation was ever a thing to hide. The
Manors' gay-friendly vibe is evident even to passersby just making their way
down the rainbow-flag-studded main drag, Wilton Drive.
Signs declare the names of retail outlets like Bottoms and Tops
(purveyors of fine designer threads), Rock Hard Video (not the place to
find the Pamela/Tommy Lee tape), and our all-time fave, Gay Mart (where
buff boys find beach apparel).
The clever double-entendres extend to Wilton Manors' restaurants and
bars, where men mingle with men, the ladies' restrooms are used infrequently by actual ladies, and Cher -- lots of Cher -- pipes in as background
Here are our favorite-named eateries and drinkeries:
10. Humpy's Pizza: Somehow this conjured up an vision of an anthropomorphic Volkswagen Beetle at first -- a fairly innocuous image. Then we started imagine crusts getting stuck in all kinds of bad places...
9. Painted Pickle:
Likewise, there's nothing wrong with the name of this sandwich shop. Maybe it's their slogan that got us all worked up: "Our goal is to stuff people with our huge... sandwiches." [Ellipsis ours.]
8. The Stable:
The name implies that an any old outlaw can mosey on down to the Stable and find a stud to saddle up with. Yes, nitpickers, this C/W gay bar is actually just inside Oakland Park's borders, because that's how gay folks and their agenda begin the invasion -- with mechanical bulls on the front line, baby.
7. The Naked Grape Wine Bar:
This wine refuge caters to guys who like beer, too. And the Naked Grape says its beers range from "light and fruity to dark and bold," which, come to think of it, are characteristics in common with the potential hook-ups.
6. Dairy Queen:
Do you know how easy it is to change a D
to an F
? Tougher than you'd think: Wilton Manors has been boldly trying to pass an ordinance changing the name to Fairy Queen for years now -- just for the sake of fun and a little notoriety. But the Minneapolis chain keeps batting its eyes and coyly resisting, sexy little scamp that it is.
5. Big Louie's:
Actually hung up on us rather than just answer a few simple questions: Exactly how big is Louie; does he work at that store, or does he service more than one location; can we run a photo?
4. Java Boys Coffee House:
Now, we don't know if the name is supposed to be a tongue-in-cheeker, but about.com points out that Java Boys makes its home in "what might just be the world's gayest strip mall," and you won't find us arguing. "In fact," about.com continues, "on many afternoons it's as cruisy in here
as it is a few storefronts away at Georgie's Alibi bar." Hey, about.com! We don't remember asking you! You don't know me,
3. The Cubby Hole:
Yes, we know it's not in Wilton Manors either, but we just can't leave it off the list. Because when you advertise yourself as a "Bear Bar" and you throw a Cub and a hole into the picture, you're just asking people to think of some wicked shit. At the very least, a toilet-paper or fabric softener commercial.
2. Bill's Filling Station:
A name that simply sashays right into the punch line of so many juvenile jokes. Many times, you'll just hear this old-school institution going by its first name only, but the whole mouthful looks so great up there on the sign.
1. The Ramrod:
The gay biker bar with the best name on the list. For maximum cruisiness and double-entrendre brilliance, the Ramrod on Wilton Drive, which bills itself as "A Levi/Leather/Uniform Bar," sets the standard.