Jan 22, 2018

The Bob Damron Guide

You probably think that the Gayellow Pages, published beginning in 1973, was the first gay directory.  In fact, there were several earlier directories.  The one most familiar to gay men in the 1970s and 1980s was the Damron Address Book.

In 1964, 36-year old businessman Bob Damron published the first Address Book, a pocket-sized 50-page list of all the gay bars he knew about in the big cities of the U.S.

The name wasn't specific, and the word "gay" was not used, because being gay was illegal in every state, with penalties ranging up to life in prison.  Being caught with a "gay" book in your possession would not only get you arrested, it would give the police a complete list of places to raid.

It was wallet-sized, so you could carry it in your pocket without being detected, and dispose of it quickly if necessary.

Later editions included codes:
C: Coffee
D: Dancing
G: Girls (Lesbians)
M: Mixed gay/straight
M/S: Mixed crowd
P: Private club
PE: Pretty elegant
RT: Raunchy types (hustlers)
S: Shows ("record pantomine acts with female impersonators")
SM: Some motorcycle.
YC: Young crowd.

The edition I bought at the adult bookstore in Bloomington in 1982 used the word "gay," and listed bars, bookstores, theaters, and bathhouses.  I carefully calculated which city in the U.S. was best for gay men by weighing all four (in my naivete, I didn't realize that the bookstores and theaters were erotic).

New York got the most points.

By the 1980s, The Damron Guide was illustrated with steamy ads.

Bob Damron died in 1989, but his annual guidebook is still going strong, specializing in international travel.

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