Naming a Gay Business
is Not an Easy Feat
Dec. 2,1983 / Montrose voice 13
By Peter Harrison
If you want to open a business, better
think up a name right now. One of my
oldest, dearest and best-hung friends
recently went through the trauma of going
to the county clerk's office to register a
name for his new plant store: he thought
"The Green Queen" was a good one. But,
no! Someone else somewhere else in the
state had beat him to it.
I tried to soothe him with a combination
of warm caresses and cold gin. I even suggested a better name, I thought: "Sod 'Em
and Grow More Rye." But he went into
terminal wilt until he came up with "How
Does Your Basket Hang?" and ran off to
the courthouse to try that one.
I'm beginning to think that I should
open a business of my own, a kind of advisory service for people like him who need
names for new enterprises. After eating at
a couple of new gay restaurants, I've come
to the conclusion that more time was spent
planning what to call those places than on
any questions of food preparation or
decor. "A Quiche Before Dining" did offer
quiche as an appetizer, a bouncy little item
that prophesized the latex-derivative
steak to come.
"Tomorrow's Manicotti" had papered
the walls with old physique magazines,
it's true, but the pasta tasted more like
yesterday's. Raw fish has never appealed
to me, so I can't honestly comment on
"Name That Tuna" and "If You Knew
Obviously, the gay community puts
great store in originality. Others don't
seem to care quite so much. In both New
York and San Francisco, there are "Old
Original Joe's" and I believe that there's
even an "Old Original Joe's Number Two"
in one or the other.
Having lots of money Beems to work
against catchy names, too. You won't find
service stations called "Don't Pass Our
Gas" or "The Lube Your Joint Joint."
Movie moguls are very happy with
"Superman III" and "Rocky Infinity."
Hilton and Sheraton just keep on throwing up "Hilton Hamtramcks" and "Sheraton Sheboygans."
But our people suffer from what I call
the Rumplestilskin Syndrome. You gotta
have a name or the magic's not there. Let
me tell you the true story of two men who
went to Russian River, fell in love with the
place and decided to open a gay guest
After tramping around (and I emphasize tramping) for three days, they consulted a real-estate office and found a
charming old building with ponds, trees,
ducks and flowers. It was going cheap,
because it was near a railroad siding
where two abandoned cabooses were baking in the sun. No one wanted them, and
prospective buyers considered them an
Our heroes, truly creative sorts, realized
that the cabooses could be easily lifted off
the tracks onto the property and made into
charming (a key word in gay business)
little (another key word here) weekend
hideaways (that's called a literary hat
trick—three key words in one phrase).
They checked with the railroad—sure
enough, cabooses went more cheaply than
new construction. Zoning was right. There
was adequate water, sewage and a ready-
So they sat back and started planning.
There would be little Roger & Gaillet
soaps, big bath towels and complimentary
shampoo. They started making lists- of
things to check: is KY available in tiny
little tubes? Can you grow watercress in a
And, they considered the name. "Take
The A Train," "Loose Caboose" and
"Orange Blossom Special" were all discarded. "The Right Track" and "Club
Car" just seemed to prove that the railroad
motif wasn't the way to go. "Wanderlust"
and "Loose Ends" killed a travel theme.
Meanwhile, interest rates crept to 12 percent.
"Yo' Mama's," as in "Where are you
staying?" "Yo* Mama's!" nearly caused
an argument. "Mother Ducks" was offered
rapturously by one of the partners and
received coolly by the other. Interest went
to 13 percent.
To cut a long story short, by the time
they arrived at a name—"Boys R Us"—
mortgage rates had gone through the ceiling. Instead of realizing their dreams of
welcoming hunks to their soignee orgy
parlor, they found themselves overwhelmed with mountains of brochures for
kitchen implements, souvenir matches
and lawn furniture. Instead of happily
sharing their work as well as leisure time,
they found themselves with a severely
strained relationship. ("If we'd called it
'Gandy Dancers' like I wanted, we'd be
operating now." "If we'd named it that,
we'd be out of business now.")
All of this could have been avoided if I
were in business, offering help to those
who need it. A quick consultation with
Peter Harrison, and you'd be off in a flame
with a name. Vital with a title. All systems
a-go-go with a logo.
A gay video arcade? "Shirley Booths."
Gay farm chemicals? "Weed 'Em and
Reap." Gay storage system? "Closet
Cases." Dry cleaners? "Pressing Concerns." Footwear? "The Shoe Must Go
See how easy I could make it for you? If
you're interested, keep watching this
column, and I'll let you know how to get in
touch. I'll be open for business—as soon as
I can think of a name.
Harrison lives in New Jersey. His column
appears here and in other gay publications. &1983 Stonewall Features Syndicate.
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