LORAIN — Saturday night at Deja vu Nightclub featured dancing drag kings and drag queens, but the good times are ending.
The club, one of Lorain County’s few gay bars, closes Saturday. Club owner Justin Schill, who opened the bar at 115 W. Fourth St. in 2010, said the closing isn’t because of a lack of business. Schill attributed the closing to a “bad business deal” with property owner James M. Kennedy. Schill said he is involved in a legal dispute with Kennedy, who wouldn’t comment Wednesday.
Regulars like John Guercio, of Cleveland, said they’re saddened about the closing. While discrimination against homosexuals and transgendered people is decreasing, it still persists, and Guercio said the atmosphere at Deja vu, whose customers include heterosexuals, is accepting.
“It’s a big loss to the people of Lorain County,” Guercio said. “What these bars are about is an outlet for people to go and feel comfortable and be around other people they feel comfortable with.”
Drag king Bryce Croft, of Sandusky, who has been crowned “Mr. Deja vu” by the club, said support from customers inspired him and improved his performance. Croft, whose stage name is Bryce Blayne, said he used to sound like actor William Shatner on the microphone when he first began performing.
“You could have the most reserved person who stands in the corner in the bar and when they get in drag, they’re a whole another person,” said Croft, who performed as Mozart on Saturday dancing to Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus.”
“It’s amazing how someone can go from being introverted to becoming extroverted.”
Other than occasional slurs yelled by drivers or pedestrians at customers, Schill said discrimination hasn’t been a problem. Schill, who said he’s considering opening a new bar in the future, said he sees irony in the club closing as acceptance of gays is increasing.
“The fact that they can stand out here on the corner of (Broadway) in Lorain, men dressed as women and women dressed as men for three years, and have the small amount of issues we’ve had probably shows a lot about how far we’ve come,” Schill said.