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Transcript of interview with Ralph Vandersnick by Dennis McBride, October 18, 1997


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Ralph Vandersnick was interviewed on October 18, 1997. Ralph owns Snick's Place, the longest-operating gay bar in Las Vegas and whether he'd agree or not, he's one of the most respected members of the Las Vegas gay community.

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Vandersnick, Ralph Interview, 1997 October 18. OH-01871. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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#•••3Q 776 Photographs following page 1. House where Ralph was born on March 16,1927 2 2. Ralph in 1928 2 3. Vandersnick Family, 1928 2 4. Ralph, his brothers, and their Aunt Mary Rumler, June 1953 3 5. Ralph, his brothers and their father, Leo, ca. 1934 3 6. Ralph at 14 in 1941 7 7. In the army in Frankfurt, Germany, 1946 7 8. Ralph in Santa Monica, California, January 1954 11 9. Ralph in his Studio Club bar, West Los Angeles, May 1960 17 10. Ralph tending bar in his club, There, Los Angeles, ca. 1964 20 11. Snick's Place in Atkinson, Illinois, ca. 1974-75 26 12. Snick s Place, Las Vegas, ca. 1976-77 26 13. In the Red Barn with Ralph, Bert Hood, and Steve Libby, ca. 1984-85 28 14. Snick's Place with Tom Collier, Howard Thompson, and Robert Schlegel, ca. 1988 28 15. Ralph in Snick's Place with his bartenders and friends, 1992 40 16. Ralph with Shirley Galardi, Peter Todd, Judy Nelson, and Ron Sperry, ca. 1990 40 17. Camp David bath house, August 24,1984 44 18. Talk of the Town adult bookstore and theatre, August 24,1984 46 19. Snick's Place, April 11,1997 56 20. Ralph Vandersnick, October 14,1997 58 * * * J* n• • A c k n o w l e d g m e n t s I want to thank Ralph Vandersnick for his patience in helping me complete this interview and for his hospitality in allowing me to visit his home and borrow photographs for the transcript. Talking with Ralph and socializing with him at events around town was a pleasure. I appreciate his candor and because of his generosity our record of the Las Vegas gay community is a little safer and a lot richer. $ * * * Las Vegas Gay Archives Oral History Project Interview with Ralph Vandersnick conducted by Dennis McBride October 18,1997 This is Dennis McBride and I'm interviewing Ralph Vandersnick today, Saturday, October 18, 1997. Vie're at his home at 3305 Calle de El Cortez in the Spanish Oaks subdivision in Las Vegas. Ralph owns Snick's Place, the longest-operating gay bar in Las Vegas and whether he'd agree or not, he's one of the most respected members of our community. One thing that Rob [Schlegelpalways makes a joke of in the [Las Vegas] Bugle Ralph's 39th birthday from year to year to year. Well, today I want to know really when were you born? March 16,1927. Pisces, ? Pisces, yeah. So I am 70 years old and I am damn proud of it! What can I say? And 111 use my hands, too, as you'll notice [motions as he speaks, laughs]. Tell me where it was you were born. I was born [in] Anna wan, Illinois. That's a small town in the southern part of Illinois, about 150 miles from Chicago. [I was born] in a little farm house. I've even got the picture of the house I was raised in. In the country. My dad was a farmer and my mother died when I was 5 years old. You want all this information? Yeahl I have three other brothers. My younger brother was only 5 months old when my mother died. I was 5 years old. And my older brother, David, he was 6 years old. Then the other brother is from another marriage. He's 12 years younger than I am. Yeah. [My father's] second wife. What are your brother's names? Well, there's David, the oldest one. And then there's Duane, he's the second to the youngest one, then Lyle. He's the one that's livin' in Arizona. He'd be the half brother. His dad and my dad are the same dad. But he's livin' in Arizona, happily married. He's been married 8 times. I haven't talked to him lately. He must really like [getting married]\ [laughs] I think he's a little bit funny, too, I don't know, [laughs] What can I say? Growing up on a farm in a small town in Illinois—what kind of childhood did you have? Would you say in retrospect it was a happy c? Well, as I said, my mother died when I was 5 years old and there was three of us and my aunt [my mother's] sister, Mary [Rumler], she took care of us all our - Top: The house where Ralph Vandersnick was born in Annawan, Illinois on March 16,1927. Bottom: Ralph Vandersnick, 1928. \photos courtesy of Ralph Vandersnick; negatives in the collection of Dennis McBride] 1-r: Louise Vandersnick (grandmother] holding Beverly Goodalls [Ralph's first cousin[; Michael Vandersnick [grandfather]; Mary Rumler [maternal aunt] holding Ralph Vandersnick by the hands; Frances Rumler [mother]; Leo Vandersnick [father]; David Vandersnick [brother], 1928 [photo courtesy of Ralph McBride] ^ Collection °f Den™ lives. If it hadn t been for her I don't know what would have happened to us. We probably would have been in foster homes. Do you remember your mother very well? 1 remember certain things, but I was really only 5 years old. I remember running around the house and playing out in the yard. [I] had this little wagon— I have pictures of that, [laughs] But I don't remember that much, really. You know, from 5 years old, you don't remember that much. After [my mother] died my dad was farming then, and after she died, he was in construction, carpenter work. And then he did that for awhile, and we sold the house, the farm and moved into town. He quit [construction], and then he started working [in] the coal mine, the underground coal mine. Strip mine, they called it. What kind of farm was it? He raised cattle and he raised corn and wheat and oats and we had cows. I remember goin' out and playin' with the cows' tits [laughs], trying to milk the cow. I had a pretty good life. It could have been better. If it hadn't been for my aunt, I don't know what. 'Cause my dad was always runnin' around with women, you know. Neglectful. How success was the farm itself? We're talking abut just before the Depression. He did real good. I can't remember what year we moved into town. I was born in 27, my mother died in '32, so it had to have been right after that. We sold the farm and moved into town probably in '33 or '34. Did your aunt move in with you? Yes. She lived with us all the time. My younger brother, [who] is 5 years younger than I am, she raised him all his life, yeah. She was never married ? r 1-r: Ralph Vandersnick; Duane Vandersnick; Mary Rumler [aunt]; David Vandersnick, June 1953. bbrrooththerp ,DphunaVnaen;d efrasnthicekr; 19*34. eF °avid' ca- ^Vandersn?^^ °f RalPh coi£zk; nejativesnin Mc Bride] 1 Dennis She never got married, huh-uh. We moved into town and [Dad] worked on the strip mine. Which town was this? This was Atkinson, Illinois, five miles from the town where I was born. We moved into this big house in town and Dad was workin' at the strip mine. He worked at the strip mine for years. A s a m i n e r ? As a miner, yeah. His second marriage was [19]38. He had to marry her. She was only 16 and he knocked her up. Ethel Burgess. This is where the other [brother] come in, Lyle. So we moved into this big house, another big house in town and she was just a bitch. She used to hit [Dad] and throw dishes and pots and pans at 'im, and Dad would just stand there and not do anything or say anything because you're not supposed to hit a woman, you know. Was that his attitude or was he just afraid of her? No, he wasn't afraid of her, but he knew he shouldn't hit her because she would have done something, she would have sued or did somethin'! So we stayed there. How did she treat you children who weren't hers? Horriblel My younger brother raised ducks and she always threatened she was gonna kill the ducks and eat em! Yeah. That was a feud there, you know. Then one morning I remember very clearly—[my parents'] bedroom was the other side over there, and Dad had gone to work because he was workin' nights—we were in the other room, me and [Duane] was in one bed, David was in the other bed, and we was makin' some kind of noise or somethin', not that loud or anything. And she came in and she just beat the shit out of my little brother. She went in the closet and got a cane and whacked him over the ass with it. Then things just started gettin 'worse. She didn't like any of our relatives or any of our friends or anything, you know. What a bitchl Ooooh! I'll never forget it. What was your mother's name? Frances. Frances Rumler, before she got married. She was a beautiful woman. I just wish and would have prayed she hadn't died and we could've got our lives on. The old man got along real good with [Ethel Burgess], I don't know. You d started school, then, by the time that your dad had married a second time. Where did you go to school? St. Anthony s in Atkinson, St. Anthony's Catholic school. You were a Catholic! Yeah! And [the school's] still sittin' there! My mother graduated from there and my aunt [Mary] that took care of us graduated from there. The old building is still sittin' there. Every year I go home I wave at it. I go by and say, "Hi!" Then the church is right across the street, St. Anthony's Catholic church. That's where I was baptized and confirmed. What was it like going to Catholic school as a child? What did they teach you? They were very strict. Very strict. They got away with a lot more than they get away with now. They could crack your hands with a ruler [smacks his knuckles], crack your knuckles, you know, and hit ya on the head and all this crap and nobody'd say anything about it. Now, you can't touch kids in school. Did that happen to you? Yeah! I got cracked on the knuckles many times with rulers. And then you'd have to write a sentence sayin', "I will not do this anymore." Somethin' like that 500 times on paper, you know, or stand in the corner with your back [turned to the class] for an hour or so. And all that crap. Or they wouldn't let you go to the toilet for five or six hours. Different things like that. They were very strict. And it was nuns? Nuns. St. Benedict nuns. They were from the St. Benedict order. The teaching order. Teaching order, yeah. How did you get along with the nuns? 1 got along pretty good with 'em. I mean, I didn't hate 'em or anything, but they were very strict. Everything was on the up-and-up. Not like schools are nowadays. Oh, my God! The teachers can't even hardly look cross-eyed at kids anymore. It's terrible, yeah. Was this was just grammar school you went to at St. ? Yeah. Eight grades. And then I graduated from there and went to high school—they had the big high school in town. I went three years there and the war [World War II] broke out and I got drafted out of my class and I had to go to war when I was 17. Before we get to the war, tell me some about the friendships you made while you were in school here in the late 30s and before you went to war. Did you have a circle of friends that you ran around with? Oh, yeah, yeah. Who were they? Fish. We used to call im Fish all the time. Fish [Gerald] Cowells was his name [laughs]. He hates that now. Everytime I see 'im [he says], "Don't you call me that! Don't you call me that!" [laughs] And Albert DePauw was a friend of mine. And I had a lot of girls, you know, that I hung around with. Joyce Gritman and Betty DeBeare and Bev Welvert and Frances Vandevoorde and Donna Verbeckmoes, and oh, different. Cliquish. And I still got all kinds of pictures of all my classes and everything. And you know how you are when you're in eighth grade. That's probably when I was 13,14. Then, on to high school. Most of these ones I was acquainted with went to the same school, you know, the girls and boys. There was 32 in my class. And it was amazing. We had three sets of twins and five Ralphs in my class out of 32 people! Can you believe that? Five Ralphs and Ralph is not a common name. Three of us got drafted. Gordie [Gordon] Taber and myself and Ozzie [ Roy ] Hamer. The three of us got drafted, and when we come back we never did receive our high school diplomas. They wouldn't give it to us. No. Why? I don t know. They said we just didn't complete [the work]. But I heard that in other, different states and towns and stuff [that] if you served in the war during your schooling years they would automatically give you the diploma. But they just refused to do it [for us]. We had a superintendent that was a real asshole. Mr. Allison was his name. We asked 'im many times [for our diploma] and he said no. You were drafted, then, right the last year of the war, nexti nto last year, '44? Yeah. I went in the early part of '45.1 never seen any action, but when I went in 1 was in Camp Roberts, California. And during my basic training the war ended, I think the fourth or fifth month I was in, the war ended. I remember I was on furlough back home and I had to go back at Christmas time, go back and celebrate Christmas back at my base. I couldn't do it with my relatives, and that kind of pissed me off, you know [laughs]. And then I was in the service for, like, three years, then I came out and I got a job at John Deere Harvester. When you say came out, which way do you mean that? L.», Top: Ralph Vandersnick, about 14 years old, 1941. Bottom: Ralph Vandersnick in the army in Frankfurt, Germany, 1946. [photos courtesy of Ralph Vandersnick; negatives in the collection of Dennis McBride] [laughs] Oh! came out of the service. I really didn't know I was gay when I was in the service. You know, when you're young you monkey around, young kids. Tell me about some of those experiences. Fish Cowells. My brother caught us jackin' off a couple of times. Should I say that? [laughs] What did [your brother] say? He said, What are you doing?" [laughs] We wiped our hands [and said], "Oh, nothin, David! Oh, nothin', David!" It was real funny! Then this other kid, we used to jack off in the car all the time. How old were you then? Oh, just when you get to the age when you get hair, you know, and you're horny. Fourteen, fifteen, I'd say, probably. And then I remember this one kid, I remember [him] so clearly. He was about two years younger than me and he had a thing on 'im like that [measures about seven inches] and he tried to put that up my ass and I screamed and yelled! [laughs] I hope I can have a copy of this! [laughs] Absolutely! And a couple of other times. Different people in town. You know, you go out, play around [with] people, feel around. But I didn't really know. You couldn 't really put a name to it at that time? No. Huh-uh. I didn't really know I was gay until I went to California when I was 24 years old! After the service. Yeah. I didn t know what gay life was. I didn't know what a gay bar was until I got this job at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California. This one kid [Stan Novak] was workin close to me, and he says, "I want to take you out to a bar." I got acquainted with im. I didn't know what his story was or anything. He says, I want to take you out to a bar tonight." I went there, you know, and I saw all these men in there and I thought what the hell is goin' on? I'd been in a bar before [where] there's been a lot of men, but there was no women at all in [there] at all, you know. He started introducing to me to people, you know, and [he said], This is a gay bar, Ralph. You know what that is?" I says, "No. I have no idea." So then he introduced me to the guy that owned it and [Stan] worked for 'im at this gay bar. [My friend's] name was Stan. And the owner of the bar was Bob Gal lager. And I got to know Bob real well. Then I think the second or third night I met this guy, his name was Raul Tellez. I'll never forget [him] as long as I live. He was a little Mexican guy. And I fell in love with that little fucker, ooooh! Ooooh! And we carried on for over a year. And this was when? This was 53,1 would say. Then we kind of broke off, and he says, "I love you, but I m not really in love with you." And that kind of ended that. That was my first big romance and I cried like a big fuckin' baby. I thought, "Oh, Godl" Yon were 26 or so? Yeah. And then this guy that took me to the bar and introduced me to the owner [Stan], he got hepatitis and he got sick, then Bob [Gallager], the owner, asked me if I wanted to work there, so I ended up workin' there for five years. In addition to your job [at Douglas Aircraft] ? Yeah. I did this for five years. I worked at Douglas Aircraft in the morning from seven till three-thirty, then I went home and cleaned up and took a little nap, and I worked at this bar from six till ten o'clock every night. Sometimes I would work more hours, you know. I did that for five, six years. Only had Monday nights off. And then in the meantime I met different friends, you know. I really got into the swing of the gay bars and everything, you know. I started going to all the other bars in town. Let s back up just a little bit. When you were in the service did you have any gay experiences? Not a one. As I look back now, I can see I had plenty of chances, but I didn't even know I was gay then. But I knew I didn't like women. I knew that, you know, I liked men better than women. How did you come to that conclusion? Well, I used to go with women and everything, but it didn't do anything for me, you know. My brother would fix me up with dates and stuff and, I don't know, I just didn't feel comfortable going out with women. After this other scene in the service, then I just flew right into [my gay life]. All this time I was missing that. Did you understand why you weren't interested in women the way your brother and the other guys were? Not really. I just never thought about it. I knew I liked a big thing hangin' down instead of a hoi el [laughs and claps his hands] A hole in the front, anyway. A hole in the front, yeah! [laughs] I'd take [girls] to the shows and kiss 'em goodnight, and that would be it. I have done it, but I just didn't like to do it. It's just, to me, it [was] just an old hole down there. That, and smell so bad you couldn t stand to be around 'em, you know. Now, I used to take women out to shows and to ball games and different things, you know, take 'em home at night, kiss em goodnight, and, "See ya later, Sweetie." But when it got down to the real jobbie of doin', you know .... I was kind of pressured a few times. They wanted to get screwed, but I said no. And in a small town doin' that gets around. But nothin' was ever really said about me bein' gay all that time, you know. So you no sIwends e of being wrong? Uh, uh. It was just not an issue? Yeah. Well, when you got out of the service and moved to California, where was the first place you lived? 848 Fourth Street in Santa Monica, California. I'll never forget it. I went out there with a friend of mine. I still don't know his story. We jut hung around together all the time, took out girls. We never took out guys or anything. But we used to go out and get drunk and go to parties and all this shit. I was workin' at John Deere then, back in Illinois. We said, "Well, let's go to California." We packed all our stuff in this 1950 Buick I bought, brand-new Buick. I paid $3000 for the damned thing in 1950. The year before that we drove to New York, went on a little tour from New York and visited relatives in Ohio and whatever, you know. And the next year we said, "Well, let's go to California." Our intention was as soon as we got out there to get a job and stay out there. But we didn't tell anybody [that]. So the first day we got out there—Santa Monica, California we hit—we went to Lockheed Aircraft and they weren't hiring. Then the second day we went to Douglas Aircraft and they hired us! What did they hire you to do? Shipping clerk. And I was there seven years. That's when I met Stan Novak. He got sick and I worked at the gay bar until 1957. What was the name of that gay bar? Hap's. It's still there, but it's not called Hap's anymore. It's right in Santa Monica Canyon. Right on the coast highway there. You've heard of the Friendship Bar in Santa Monica? Ralph Vandersnick in Santa Monica with his 1950 Buick "cruising car," January 1954. [photo courtesy of Ralph Vandersnick; negative in the collection of Dennis McBride] Yeah. It s about two doors from there. The Friendship is still there. Is Hap's, or whatever it's called now, still a gay barl Yeah. What did it look like? It was just a little beer bar. About the size of my bar [Snick's Place]. And they just served beer. They didn t have any liquor or anything. They had a juke box in there. And they had a hole in the wall and they served Mexican food next door. It had a little restaurant attached? Yeah. And Jack Cartwright was the waiter, and we used to shove the beer through the hole there, [laughs] And he would pay us for the beer. I just remember so many fun times I had in LA. Then I quit Douglas Aircraft in 57 and I bought this bar called the Studio Club right across the street from the Twentieth Century Fox studio in West LA. The old studio, before they built in that Century City thing. I quit Hap's, too. I ran this bar [the Studio Club] for about eight years. It was just a beer bar, too. All the movie people used to come over. We used to have a little restaurant in the back and [the stars'd] come over for hamburgers for lunch everyday. And I waited on many of the movie stars. Was the restaurant gay? No, it wasn't gay. Anybody could come in and get a sandwich or whatever they wanted, you know. When I bought the bar it was straight, but I turned it gay right away. How do you take a straight bar and turn it into a gay ? Well, it s the same way as with this one [Snick's Place] out here. You kind of take it easy for a bit, you know, maybe a month or so, and just kind of feel out the customers. There s always gay people goin' into straight bars, anyway. Then you just tell [the customers], "We're gonna turn the bar gay." You tell the straight customers? Yeah. And if they want to come back, OK, and if they don't want to come back, that s all right, too. Most of 'em come back. I still have straight people come into my bar at Snick s Place up here that I've been waitin' on for 21 years. Tell me some more about the Studio Club. I was there eight years. We had a lot of stars come into the bar. Like who? Montgomery Clift2 and Marlon Brando^. I'll have to show you this. [Ralph leaves the room and returns with a stack of ph.] You have a picture here of Jayne Mansfield A Um, hm. That sat in my bar for four or five years before she got killed. If you look close you can see kind of beer stains on the picture. She looks kind of nasty. I know, yeah. And look at this one! [hands an autographed picture of Joan Crawford] Joan Crawfordl That was '54,1 think. Maybe '55. Look how young she looks there. Was she a ? Yeah, well, she played around. She was known to play around with Bette Davis and other different ones, yeah. Did evsheer bring girlfriends in with her that you knew op. Yeah. She brought a couple in, uh, huh. And she brought the one she was married to, Franchot Tone. She brought him in a couple of times.^ My friend Roy [Mazza] used to be a dress designer at the studio. He used to dress all the stars. Boy, he could tell ya some stories, you wouldn't believe it. The big dicks they have and all that shit! Oh, God! [laughs] Unbelievable. Frank Sinatra [came into the Studio Club]. Ernest Borgnine. And the one who plays in all those old pictures with Jack Lemmon. Jack lemmon and ... Walter Matthau. Walter Matthau! What a beautiful man he is. He used to come into my bar, and then when I worked at California Electronics later on when I got out of the bar business, he used to come into my place, too. He came in and bought batteries for me all the time. That s another story, too. I met a lot of nice movie star people in there, too. You mentioned Ernie Kovacs.^ The night he got killed was right in front of my bar, about half a block away. He ran into a big telephone pole. We heard the crash in the bar and everybody ran out. Did you know it was Kovacs? No. We didn't know it was him till later, you know. He was comin' from Dean Martin's party and it was kind of like a parade of different celebrities were goin' to another party or somethin', they said, and he was drunk and he ran right into that post. He was killed instantly. Then some people came to the bar and said that it was Ernie Kovacs. It was '61, maybe? Can you describe to me what the Studio Club looked like outside and inside? Just about like Snick s, really. It was a little old bar, you know. It had a nice sign up. 1 got some pictures someplace but I don't know where. It was just a beer bar. 1 just loved that place. We had more damned fun in there. I remember at the end there when they were tearing down the old [Twentieth Century Fox] studio on Santa Monica Boulevard—they were puttin' up Century City—we used to get all those construction workers in there, all these butch ones with big dicks hangin'. Ooooh, God, the fuckin' queens went out of their fuckin' minds, you know. It was too much). [laughs] And we had a couple of fights. You know how it is when you get some butch construction workers together, you know, [laughs] And there was a little bar down the street. I can't remember what it was called. I used to go down there all the time, too. It wasn't really gay, but it was mixed. Id send some of my customers down there and they sent some of their customers up to me, you know. And we used to carry on and carry on and, oh, God, we had more damned fun. As far as I know that bar is still open. But the Studio Club is a big high-rise building now. It's about a 21-story building. / interviewed a lady from southern California who got the lesbian softball teams going in the '60s.7 She ran several bars down there. She described to me that [gay] people weren't allowed to dance close together. Do you remember ? Oh, yeah. The vice squad were terrible. When I [worked at] Hap s and [later when] I had the Studio Club, [the vice squad] used to come in and harass all the time. How did they harass? They'd come in and they would come to the bartender—I knew most of em— and they would say, "Now, don't tell the gay kids that we're in here." A lot of the bars would have a little light in the back and the minute the vice would come in, they'd turn that light on so that would tell you, "Behave yourself. The vice are in here." Did the vice know about the ? Oh, they found out in a hurry. Oh, yeah, they found out in a hurry. And the vice told me three or four different times when I was working back of the bar. They said, If you tell any of the customers that we're vice we can get you for interfering with an arrest." Was there a front room and a back room [in the bar] or just a light in the back of the room? Clear at the back of the bar. We had it in some corner. Not real conspicuous. It would be a kind of a dim light, you know, either amber or red or kind of bluish and it would just kind of flash on and off. That would tell [customers] that the vice was in the bar. That would be awful, 1 think, to have to be so careful and watch that light. And I remember one night when I was workin', the vice came in and they took a very good friend of mine. He went with em. I don't think at the time he knew they were vice. He went with em and they took him up to Mulholland Drive— that's where all the lovers make love and all that crap—they took 'im up there and they got im to suck their dick and then they pushed 'im off a cliff. Did it kill 'im? No, he lived, but he was in serious condition for awhile. And it was vice squad cops that did that? Urn, hm. And another time—I happened to be workin' this night—they came in and they took this one kid outside and just beat the livin' shit out of 'im. They didn't have a trial or anything. They wouldn't let anybody say anything about it. They just kept hush-hush. I took up a collection and [the vice squad] gave me hell about that. The kid was really beat up. His face was all scarred and cut. It was really terrible. He happened to be a real good customer. He wasn't a real close friend of mine, but a real good customer. The bar got together and had a little party and took up a collection for im. We had a jar back there [for donations]. Then, you couldn't do anything, you know. You could have buffets, but you had to have a little bucket say in' that this was a buffet but [customers] had to contribute to somethin'. To a welfare outfit or somethin'. You still have to do that out here if you have a buffet. But you actually used the money to help this boy? Yeah. We took almost $5000 in. And [the vice squad] just raised hell. "You can't do that, Ralph." I says, "Well, why can't I? You beat this poor kid up and he didn't have a chance. He wasn't doin' anything." Did you ever have to pay vice squad off to leave you alone? No. They never asked me, either. But I know some bars did. [Bar owners] took em out to dinner, you know, and paid a certain amount of money and everything. But I was never asked to pay em off or anything. I think they wanted me to offer it, you know, to keep em from buggin' the bar, but I just never did. Did you have dancing in the bars, in Hap's and in the Studio Club? Well, we let em dance a little bit. We weren't supposed to. But every time we would see somebody strange walk in, I'd tell [the customers] to cut it off. It was way in the back by the pool table, you know, where they were dancin' and carryin' on. And I remember another time, it was on my day off. I was sittin' in the bar gettin' half smashed with a couple of friends of mine and these two sonovabitchin' vice squad officers—Joe Gunn. I'll never forget that name as long as I live.Little Italian fucker. Oh, he was the meanest. Good-lookin', he had a dick on im like that [measures about nine inches] and he would show it all the time. He'd go in the restroom and pull that goddamned thing out. Anyhow, gettin' back to it. They asked me to go for a ride with em, the two vice squad officers. And I just jumped up and I said, "You think I'm crazy? You think I'm gonna get in that car and go for a ride with you guys? Hell, no! I'm gonna stay here and get drunk!" And they said, "We'll be back and watch you." They never came back. They were just kind of threatenin' me. Ralph Vandersnick in his West Los Angeles bar, the Studio Club, May 1960. [photo courtesy of Ralph Vandersnick; negative in the collection of Dennis McBride] Do you think that these vice squad officers were on duty at that time, or were they gay and coming in and using this opportunity to beat people up? I don't know, really. And another good customer that I had, a good-lookin' kid, he was tnckin' with one of these vice officers all the time! And I told 'im, I says, "Jack, this is a vice squad officer and you're goin' to bed with this man all the time? What in the hell is wrong with you?" He says, Well, we re havin' a good time. He don't say anything and 1 don't say anything." And he was never arrested? And never arrested or anything! It was weird. That was all the way up [to the time] that 1 got rid of the Studio Club. '63. Then I bought another little bar on Pico Boulevard, Pico and Westwood. I named it There. T-H-E-R-E. A whole mess of us got together one night. What are we gonna call your bar, Ralph? What are we gonna call your bar, Ralph?" And this one queen got up—Ziggy, a very good friend of mine. He used to go with Montgomery Clift, and he was a sweetheart. He says, "Let's call it There." I says, OK, we'll call it There." [laughs] We had flyers and a big grand opening, and it was, "We're goin' to Therel" I was there for two years and I had to go home. My dad died of cancer and I had to go home. I put people [in charge] that I thought I could trust, people that were workin' for me back of the bar. I came back to town and the vice squad just ruined that bar. They had five arrests in the restrooms and they gave me, like, two to three months to get rid of the bar. Moral arrests, they were called. [Vice officers] would go into the toilets, play with their thing and get it hard, let it hang over. Then these little nellie8 queens would go in and take a look at it, you know, put their hand down there and right away, arrested. Entrapped. Entrapment. That's what it was. I still got the [legal] paperwork someplace here. I had to sell the bar. I lost my ass on it. I sold it to some straight guy. When your bar is closed from entrapment like that, gay bar, anybody's taking a chance buying it. He bought it and he turned it straight and he did pretty good for awhile, then he lost it, too. Tell me about going to court over these arrests