Arthur Whitaker and Peter Bochove are both business partners. They met through the bathhouse at 5 Wellesley St West, the Library Health Club, previously managed by Brandy Knight. Brandy Knight also owned August Club - another gay club, on the top of Parkside, which ran from late 1969-72). T…
Arthur Whitaker and Peter Bochove are both business partners. They met through the bathhouse at 5 Wellesley St West, the Library Health Club, previously managed by Brandy Knight. Brandy Knight also owned August Club - another gay club, on the top of Parkside, which ran from late 1969-72). Throughout this interview, the audio repeated cuts due to the interviewee’s phone ring. The two first describe how they met. Peter first approached by Whitaker in 1973, after attending the Health Club regularly. Whitaker describes his involvement in CHAtT. He first joined in 1971/1972 - the same time he came out of the closet. He used CHAT to meet other gay men through the dances they held at Holy Trinity Church. Whitaker first heard about CHAT through television, and he chose to attend there as he found the Parkside/St Charles ‘terribly intimidating’. Bochove goes on to describe the Richmond Street Baths. He describes his investment into Richmond Street Health Emporium ‘a mistake,’ as it was ‘way ahead of its time’ The baths were about 16 000 square feet, with pools, atrium, etc. To open it, he scouted out wealthy gay men at Quest to invest, ended up with 17 shareholders. He found straight investors easier to work with than gay investors, as he felt queers invested in gay businesses with a closer connection to the social and sexual profits with the investment than purely financial. The baths were destroyed during the Bathhouse Raids; they pull out pictures of the destroyed bathhouse to show Lionel. Bochove was president of the Richmond street Health Emporium until then, 1981. After the raids, the Richmond closed due to bankruptcy. Bochove describes his reaction on the day of Operation Soap/the Bathhouse Raids. At the time of raids, Bochove was working at Katrina’s, and involved in Barracks - so he was involved in 3/4 of the baths attacked. Bochove describes police harassment, and the police asking neighbours if he brought young boys home. Bochove also says he was tipped off that his mail was being intercepted and tampered with. He says that the police surprised by level of organization of response, and after trying second, less discreet Backdoor raids, still got a strong and visible response. Bochove talks about Bob Slea, and describes him as a a ‘total scumbag’, pickpocket, bicycle theft, and paedophile. He notes that Slea runs escort agency advertised in Now Mag. Note that Collier later interviews Slea, and this is also part of the Foolscap fond. Bochove sites the Hassle Free Clinic to show that he believes those who use the baths practice safe sex or abstain from anal sex. However, does note that the Roman does not give out condoms or acknowledge patrons are having sex there. Also Bochove notes that the Oakleaf was never noted as a gay place nor raided, while it was as ‘gay as the rest of them.’ When it came to his baths, Bochove feels it was important to outwardly state that they were gay. Whitaker notes that Malloney ‘brought the baths into the 20th century’ with Club Toronto, running gay movies, having an orgy room and acknowledging the gay clientele. Whitaker leaves the room (approx 30 min), and Bochove begins to recount his early childhood. Bochove was born in Holland, just outside the Hague. He lived in Guelph,and then in Downsview - this is where Bochove first discovered the baths. His first ever gay experience happened while he was asleep, camping with a friend - he woke up to see his friend giving him oral sex (at age 16/17). In 1971, Bochove began working for the Department of National Defence. Around this time, he went into the Roman baths to get a massage, and only after entering discovered it was a gay steambath. He was offered his money back, but decided to stay (age 21). Met a student there from the University of Guelph. Two weeks later, he went back. A month later, he discovered the Library Health Club - began going every Friday night, where he met Whitaker. Whitaker was always rude to Bochove, but they grew to be friends. Bochove is sober, he quit drinking in 1970 (after acknowledging his own gay identity), and hated the Manatee. Whitaker invited him to the Toronto Club baths, where he met Peter Malloney - began going regularly. Malloney offered Bochove a job to manage his club, and through that job he fell in love with gay business. He believes that at this time (in 1973) gay business was a new phenomena.
Dates and locations mentioned: Toronto, Guelph, Downsview, The Hague, Holland, Netherlands, 1970s, 1980s
Bochove recounts Feb 2, 1983 - seeing the space that later became Malloney’s as a gutted out, destroyed place. He gathered ‘every drag queen I know’ to clean the space. He passed out 5,000 invitations, and opened up Malloney’s on Feb 10. He describes their being lines from Grenville and Elizabeth up to Bay St. Bochove’s describes his business theory - people who come into them except friendly, courteous service and fair drinks and fair price. He describes Malloney’s daily clientele; he ran lunches during the day, had a large lesbian patronage from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, and then around 8:30 to 9:00, people came in wanting to find seats. He describes the various bars Bochove renovated and opened with Maloney across the street. He particularly describes Murphy’s, which had him ’strung out’ Bochove goes on to discuss the importance of safe sex as the ‘cure for AIDS’ and frustration with the Romans bathhouse for not giving condoms out - he also applauds Club Toronto for giving condoms out. He discusses the Parkside and St Charles Tavern’s business fading away, and mentions the Quest as a place of steady business. He describes the financial position of Richmond Health and why it went bankrupt after the Raids. Bochove goes on to predict that’ “in the next 10 years, there will be a 100 gay bars in the city. He suspects that the HIV/AIDS crisis will contribute to this, with many gay men migrating to Toronto. He describes that, outside of Toronto, ‘gay means death’. Bochove mentions that he was in a 6 year monogamous relationship for the entire time he worked in the baths.
Dates and locations mentioned: Toronto, 1980s
Location - Original
CLGA only in possession of digital copy. Cassette tape retained by Lionel Collier