Who Put the 'Dirty' in Dirty Sally's?
By Ed Martinez
There's these two bars, one in Austin and
in Houston, with the unlikely names of
"Dirty Sally's." Ever wonder how they got
their names? It makes for a good story,
and it came right from the "horse's"
mouth, Paul Stewart, better known as
Dirty Sally, himself.
According to Paul, he was working out
in California, and through a series of circumstances, he found himself in the business of designing and installing custom
bathrooms. He had grown to the point at
which he was designing some pretty fancy
Johns for some pretty famous people. One
day he was in a bar, and when he left, a
patron in the bar noticed Paul and asked
the bartender about Paul's identity. The
bartender, using Paul's drag name,
informed the patron that that was
"Sally." When asked what Sally did for a
living, the bartender archly replied that
Sally built toilets.
"Oh," the customer said, "that's dirty."
The bartender told Paul about the incident, the name stuck, and ever since that
time Paul Stewart has been Dirty Sally.
Some years later, when Paul returned to
Houston, he started a bar named, of
course, Dirty Sally's. Although Paul has
not been actively involved in the business
for years, the name lives on.
But what ofthe business that carries the
name? How does a bar get that way? What
gives a bar a distinctive flavor unlike any
other? For the answers to these and other
questions, Jim Smith, the general manager of the two Dirty Sally's as well as the
Chicken Coop in Houston, volunteered.
Jim Smith took over management ofthe
operation five years ago, after a background in business and two degrees in
sociology from LSU and Washington University in St. Louis. About 19 months ago,
the Austin bar waB added, and Jim moved
here for a few weeks that has stretched
into a year and a half. He is now a native
of Austin and loves it.
Dirty Sally's in Austin has the image of
a college bar, being located close to the
campus of the University of Texas, and
the crowd at the bar does tend to be
younger and preppier than some other
bars in Austin. On a Monday night, when
the popular free beer bust happens, some
of the best-looking young men in Texas
can be seen, packed wall-to-wall inside
and outside the place.
But the reality of the bar is something
different. At happy hour, day in and day
out, the regulars hold forth at the bar, and
this includes some ofthe more prominent
business and professional men in town,
including some ofthe town's public officials. These regulars are also a large part
of the business at Sally's and make it a
comfortable place for people of all ages to
water down and relax after a hard day.
The ambience of a bar is a hard thing to
to Gay Group
The University of Texas campus at
Arlington—near Dallas—officially recognized the BO-member Gay/Lesbian Association of UTA recently with very little
controversy or debate.
Luan Green, co-founder of the group,
said she was told if they ran the organization smoothly, they shouldn't have any
problems. She said the move was encouraging, especially in light of recent events
barring recognition of a gay group at
The main difference is that UTA does
not provide funding for its campuB groups,
while student organizations at SMU can
apply to use the student fee monies. At
UTA, student groups are allowed to use
campus facilities and services, post notices and raise funds on campus.
A nine-member committee of students,
faculty and staff voted on Nov. 23 to recognize the group, with only one dissenter.
This is the second such group to organize
at UTA. The earlier one has disbanded.
First in a Series on
the Gay Bars of Austin
and San Antonio
Bartenders meeting Sunday morning
analyze and probably shouldn't be analyzed anyway, but some ofthe ingredients
of the management of a successful bar are
worth noting. Jim Smith stressed that
although places for fun and enjoyment,
his bars are run on a strictly businesslike
Every Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m.
while some are sleeping off Saturday
night, the staff of Sally's are attending
their weekly meeting. Cleanup work, discussions and plans on how to improve the
operation of the bar are underway, and the
overall attitude of the employees is gone
"Attitude" is a word that has gotten a
bad connotation in the gay world, but to
Jim Smith, it is an important part ofthe
success of Sally's. The staff is instructed to
maintain an attitude of friendliness and
helpfulness toward all customers of the
bar, regardless of who they may be. The
"attitude" frequently displayed in some
establishments is simply not permitted at
Smith is adamant about this point and
believes strongly that the bar's first objective should be, and is, identifying his customers and attracting them to the bar.
Thereafter, it's up to the staff to make
those customers feel welcome and want to
stay and enjoy themselves. Apparently,
the business philosophy is working, for
Sally's is easily one of the busiest bars in
The appearance and layout of the bar
fosters a comfortable feeling for the customers. Smith pointed out that a large part
of the capital budget goes for the sound
system, increasingly important to a successful bar. The physical design ofthe bar,
itself, and the traffic flow around the bar is
vital and optimally should allow customers to see most or all of the rest of the
customers from any point in the bar. Such
things as the fresh floral arrangements,
and, last but most important, the bartenders, themselves, are all important.
Smith hires the bartenders himself, and
admitted that many of them come from
Dallas or Houston or other cities. But the
big city attitude hangups are left at the
door, or the applicants do not get a job.
Although the bartenders arefrankly hired
on looks (who really wants to spend all
night looking at an ugly bartender?), they
must rate far above average as bartenders
All of this makes for a good feeling
among the employees, and a family feeling among the staff has gone far to help
keep Sally's popular and profitable.
"The bar business is very competitive,
but if it weren't, I'd lose interest," stated
Apparently, Jim Smith needn't worry
about losing any of the interest that running a successful bar has for him. As long
as bars can be as profitable as Dirty Sally's, there will be plenty of competition.
Money follows a profit, and new bars will
always be a fact of life in Texas' Capital
City, in addition to the existing competing
Dirty Sally's has carved out its own particular niche in the gay business scene,
and it looks as though it will be around for
a long time to come.
DEC. 23, 1983 / The Star 3
SAGA Resolves to
The San Antonio Gay Alliance resolved to
achieve greater unity and better communication within the community in the coming year in order to improve gay life in San
Antonio and accomplish specific SAGA
The first effort to formulate goals and
plans for reaching them will be a weekend
retreat in the Hill Country near Boeme at
a leadership workshop to be held Saturday
and Sunday, Jan. 21 and 22, attheGuadalupe River Ranch.
Scheduled for the two-day thought-
provoking event is an informal discussion, recreation and work sessions
designed to develop an agenda for the gay
community in 1984, a budget for achieving
this agenda, possibly restructuring the
Alliance and the development of new leadership for the community.
The retreat will end with a party and
traditional Hill Country barbecue on Sunday afternoon.
Anticipated cost (including overnight
accommodations, three meals and the barbeque) is $50 per person. However a lower
registration fee of $25 has been made possible through a grant to SAGA from
Bogarts, Cahoots and Battros Properties.
This opportunity to pay a lower fee will
allow maximum participation from the
Due to limited accommodations, reservations and remittance are needed by Jan.
5. Send check to SAGA, P.O. Box 12063,
San Antonio, Tex. 78212.
The Rockin' R Riders, a club for horse-
backing riding enthusiasts, held their
Christmas party Dec. 18 at Snuffy's and
celebrated the season with lots of food and
The Riders is a thret month-old organization formed for the purpose of teaching
persons about riding and entering rodeos.
Members teach horsemanship and sponsor trail rides, plus charity work. And, you
don't have to own a horse to be a
member—just have an interest in the
Anyone interested in becoming a
member or finding out more should contact anyone at Our Place.
Arizona Gays Upset
The Arizona Republic newspaper and
local gay groups have threatened to try for
a recall of Republican Hawley Atkinson,
chairman ofthe County Board of Supervisors, following a remark that gays should
be substituted for animals in medical
Atkinson, however, says he has no
intention of stepping down and will run
again in 1984.
In an Associated Press article, San
Francisco gay leaders likened the remark
to Hitlerism when Atkinson said "homosexuals and lesbians from San Francisco"
should be used in experiments instead of
animals. He insists it was a facetious
remark which he didn't think would make
The Arizona Gay-Lesbian Task Force
threatened to mobilize the county's estimated 150,000 gays for a recall vote if he
did not quit.
Despite the confrontation, Atkinson
says he can represent gays. "I'm against
homosexuality, absolutely against it ...
but when anybody calls me up who wants
assistance with Maricopa County, I don't
ask them what color they are, what race
they are. what their creed is."