Owner of the Eagle Bar NYC
Derek Danton, who owns the Eagle Bar in New York City with his husband Robert Berk, was by far one of the coolest interviews I have ever done. Danton was able to paint a precise picture in my mind of exactly what the New York Eagle Bar is all about. I could smell the scent of leather and chains and picture the sexiness he described.
When did the Eagle Bar become yours?
I acquired it in 2000. I opened it in 2001. In my possession, it’s actually 15 years old. In about three weeks, exactly October 2, that weekend, will be our anniversary weekend. We opened October 5, 2001, officially.
Are you planning a 15-year anniversary celebration?
Yes; we do it every year actually. Just so you know, the Eagle is not 15 years old. It was originally opened in 1970 on 21st St. and 12th Ave. Then in 2000 I bought it from the original owner and moved it to 28th St. and 11th Ave.
Most of our readers are familiar with the Eagle, but tell me why it’s so unique.
It’s unique because it’s something that has survived for 45 years. The concept was something that was prevalent back in the ‘70s—the motorcycle leather culture—that a lot of gay men and women embraced, and it’s survived all these years. Now, it’s not exactly the same. It’s a little bit different than what it originally was, but the atmosphere has remained: that whole feeling of dark, sexy environment that stimulates all the senses. It really does, if you think about it. It dwells on masculine for the most part, the smell of leather, the feel of leather, the scent of man, the sexiness of the lighting. There’s a whole number of variables involved to stimulate the senses on many different levels. And it survived. Somehow we’ve been able to hold onto it, and the bar is thriving. It’s just amazing.
I’ve been there. I love the atmosphere.
Oh, you have? Good! It’s a good place.
I never met you. Are you a leather guy?
I love wearing leather. I have a pretty good collection of leather. Now, the thing about being a leather man, I think it’s very different than it used to be. I think if you speak to the old guard, they will say the leather man was a lifestyle. You wore your leather all the time. It was part of your lifestyle. Very few of those people still exist. Now I think it’s more about when the feeling hits, you wear leather. Put your leather on and feel sexy.
I used to want to be a raven; however, they wouldn’t let me.
No girls allowed.
Well, you should check out the the Highwaymen TNT. They have women. They are a wonderful group of people.
I will. So what do you like best about owning the bar?
I am all about hospitality, and I love the people. I just love the diversity of the crowd. We have people from all walks of life come through that door. I think it’s just so cool that so many different kinds of people end up in the same place and have a great time. That’s what I love about it. I grew up on hospitality. I was taught hospitality from a very young age. So one of the things I love about the bar was being able to greet people and hang out with them, and meet people from all walks of life. The other thing I love about the bar is the amount of outreach to the people, the amount of community service we do. Because it’s a big bar, it has a very large reach. I like to think we do some good for the community. That’s the other thing I love about the bar.
It’s a great bar. I always have a lot of fun there. OK, what else is going to be happening at the bar in the near future?
We have a huge Halloween party every year, which is also coming up very soon. It’s a massive party, $1500 in prizes.
And it’s a costume party?
Yeah, a costume party. It’s a great party. You should come.
Thank you for asking. I just might.
You should. It’s a huge party, and it’s very crowded. With all the costumes and everything, it’s a little tight in there, but boy it’s a lot of fun! It’s very festive. We decorate it, the entire bar. We have an emcee for the contest. It’s a good party, a really good party.