Gary Taylor — Auld Lang Syne & Robbie Says Good Bye

Robbie - Photograph - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Some 27 years ago Gary Taylor invited Rosemary and me for New Year’s celebrations at his Rock Room in Vancouver. B.C.. The entertainer was Roy Forbes who then went by the name of Bim. I remember being astounded when it came time for the countdown as he took out a sheet of music that had the lyrics for Auld Lang Syne! As soon as it was midnight Forbes sang, reading from the sheet. Just as he finished he opened a bottle of Moët Chandon (my fave) and sprayed the crowd. I was in the front so I was soaked. Three Polish sailors came up to me and told me I had an uncanny resemblance to Roman Polanski. For many years later I received a Christmas card from them wishing me a long life! 
 Rosemary would certainly no longer go to a New Year’s party of any kind. We would rather stay at home and read and even make it an early night to bed. The concept of being hugged by complete strangers at the strike of midnight now feels alien.
 But as I try to navigate away from porn sites when I look up what I think are innocent words on Google I remember fondly (so much nicer because of the distance of time, perhaps?) the days when my friends and I haunted the Vancouver strip parlours which were euphemistically called show lounges. For many reasons, including assignments for Vancouver Magazine and the Globe & Mail I had managed to photograph most of the luminary dancers and the proprietors of the bars. One of them was Gary Taylor who had a double-bill club on Hornby called Gary Taylor’s Rock Room. It was the Rock Room (Johnny Thunders performed there) on the first level but it was a show lounge below. My friend Vancouver Magazine Rock writer Les Wiseman would often go to listen to bands and as soon as our interest waned we would go below.

Gary Taylor & friends - Photograph - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

As far as I can figure it, Vancouver, known at one time for the best strip parlours now only has three within its city. They are Brandy’s (not far from where Gary Talor used to hold court), the Cecil Hotel and Tony Ricci’s No 5 Orange ( as 2015 wanes the Orange is the only one left that counts). I would assert that the days remaining for these three are limited. They are unable to compete in this age of instant communication with ever so “intimate” chats on line with people we don’t know or “visits” to porn sites with our credit cards in hand. While the strip joints were loud we could at least say we were going to converse with friends. How can that compete with the comfort of a monitor at home. The beer in one hand and the other….

In those days I could walk to any of the joints and the man at the bar would slide a glass of soda water in my direction with a smile. They all knew my preferences. And so did I. But I no longer go to those remaining strip joints of our city. Peter Busby’s architect firm is going to soon demolish the Cecil. Not too long ago I was chatting with Ricci and asked him if he had any plans. His answer, “I don’t know how to do anything else. This joint, for better or worse is my life.” I was reunited with Taylor this year. In spite of everything that others might say these men (Ricci and Taylor) did give us pleasure, that in retrospect wasn’t all that shabby.

Link to: Gary Taylor — Auld Lang Syne & Robbie Says Good Bye

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