In “BJs and Bullet Holes” Ron Maldonado Shows Us the Old, Sleazy Side of Brooklyn Heights

Video producer, writer, and erstwhile BHB contributor Heather Quinlan has shared with us her latest production, “BJs and Bullet Holes” (video after the jump), in which Ron Maldonado takes us on a tour of the Heights as it was as recently as the mid 1980s. His tour hits on some places I knew shortly after my arrival here in 1983. After Capulet’s on Montague, which quickly became my favorite bar when I moved here, closed in 1985, Gerry Bose was hired to tend bar at Clark Street Station, and lots of Capulet’s regulars, including me, followed him there. I remember Ron tending bar there. I had no idea the place was mob controlled.

I have one very good memory involving Clark Street Station. I was watching Game Six of the 1986 World Series at home. When it looked like the Red Sox had it on ice, and were cruising to their first championship since 1918, I decided to go congratulate my friend Bill, a Sox fan, whom I was sure would be at Clark Street Station. When I got to the sidewalk outside the the bar, I looked through its large front window and saw my fellow Mets fans jumping and clapping, and Bill looking ashen. I went in and asked Bill what had happened. He gestured at the TV screen just as there was a replay of Mookie Wilson’s grounder going between Bill Buckner’s legs.

Now for a True Confession. I went to Club Wild Fyre once. I was taken there by someone – I can’t remember who – that I met in my early days in the Heights. We entered through the Clark Street door. I don’t remember the man with the can opener mouth, but I must have paid him, unless my friend took care of that. I remember walking through a long corridor that, after a turn to the left. led us into the bar. We took seats at the southwest end of the bar’s horseshoe and sat there, drinking lousy beer, while a bored looking woman, standing on the bar just to my right, shuffled her feet and jiggled her bare breasts. We didn’t stay long.

BJs and Bullet Holes: The Other Side of Brooklyn Heights from Heather Quinlan on Vimeo.

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  • AEB

    “He looked like a can opener…”

    Bring it all back!

  • HeatherQuinlan

    HI BHB – I’m now in Queens, I got priced out of Brooklyn Heights! Miss you all, and my police blotter.

  • AndyHeights

    That was so very real! That guy told it like it was!!!!

  • Andrew Porter

    There were all sorts of old established gay couples living in the Heights up until the 80s, with all sorts of gay watering holes and networks. The AIDS crisis literally killed all that (and them) off. Used to see lots of people around BH who were gone a decade later…

  • CassieVonMontague

    Was the Wild Fyre in the same place Luca Brasi slept with some fish? The barber in the subway station, Rocco, said that scene was filmed in that location.

  • Decade of the Heights

    It doesn’t seem real… But you can tell that guy wouldn’t bother taking the extra energy to lie to you. lol. That video should get an award.

  • HeatherQuinlan

    Yes, Rocco is correct.

  • Adam McGovern

    “I alone am left to tell the tale…” — Ron & HQ keep the dizzy Heights alive until the last ling has dinged!

  • Jorale-man

    Ron is quite the character. Funny that the gay bar with the drugs upstairs was right next to the church on Henry Street.

  • Bornhere

    I guess people remember things differently. Until I married and moved to Willow Place (and now Henry Street), I lived on Clark and Willow from the time I was born. I have seen changes in the Heights over the decades (and decades and …) that I have lived here, but I have no sense of the Towers being anything but a residential hotel, a great place to watch the elaborate ballroom festivities (there was a dandy balcony, and as kids, we always snuck in to watch), and a venue (in the late 1950s) for military galas of sorts (with party-hearty soldiers and sailors lined up in various states of drunkenness along the Willow Street wall) at the end of the evening. And I doubt that Wild Fyre encounters spilled over to the Towers — the Witnesses bought it in 1975. Maybe Maldonado wasn’t making that connection, but again, one’s memories derive from one’s life. And this guy’s life and memories are sure a lot more colorful than mine.

  • Arch Stanton

    Every bar was a drug den back then…

  • Arch Stanton

    In the final years as an operating hotel, before the Jo-hos bought it, The Towers had indeed fallen to the described cesspool of hookers and junkies…

  • Arch Stanton

    Apparently, only in part. The opening of the scene where they are walking into the bar was shot there however, the part when they are seated at the bar was filmed elsewhere, some place in Manhattan, I believe.

  • Arch Stanton

    For a guy claims to have only gone into the Wild Fyre only once, he sure has a good memory of it. LOL.

  • Arch Stanton

    A note about the Clark St Station: It started out as a normal bar restaurant, serving Cajun/Louisiana cuisine, which was quite good. It was owned by a couple that also held respectable day jobs in education. It went well for a few years till the requisite cocaine addiction seized the both of them. As the money started to be diverted “elsewhere” the restaurant declined till the kitchen staff finally quit… The business model then shifted to a coke fueled bar scene with live DJ music and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights… The downward spiral continued when the authorities eventually shut down the illegal disco operation for lack of a cabaret license. The couple, now in debt to the boys across the street had no choice but to hand the bar over to them… They of course didn’t run it much better, in its final days the bartender would have to frequently run to Peas n Pickles to buy beer…
    Good times in those days.

  • HeatherQuinlan

    He didn’t go into it once, Claude did :)

  • HeatherQuinlan
  • Claude Scales

    I think I’m the guy to whom Arch referred. I have very clear memories of things that happened thirty years ago. Just don’t ask me the name of someone I met thirty minutes ago.

  • Arch Stanton

    No, In the video, at 3:55, Ron says he went in there once. I guess he could have meant one particular time but Its like internet porn, no one wants to admit…
    I was in the Wild Fyre maybe a dozen or so times over the years. Your memory and description are spot on.

  • Arch Stanton

    LOL there are plenty of people out there who take no extra energy at all to lie to you. In Ron’s case, I vouch that most of what he said was true, though the scene on the Promenade was a bit exaggerated…

  • Moshe Aron Kestenbaum ODA

    I remember the hookers on Hicks , Don’t want to see sleazy doucebags again.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Anyone know whatever happened to Doris who was a regular at Clark Street Station? She was German, I believe..

  • Arch Stanton