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Baltimore Eagle, historic leather bar and LGBTQ staple, closes again; building owner pledges to reopen

The Baltimore Eagle, pictured in July 2017, has closed again.
The Baltimore Eagle, pictured in July 2017, has closed again. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Charm City’s LGBTQ nightlife world took another hit when the Baltimore Eagle, the longtime gay leather bar and club at 2022 N. Charles St., ceased operations this month.

Building owner Ian Parrish pledged that the Eagle will reopen.

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“The Baltimore Eagle is most certainly not going to close on our watch,” Parrish said in an emailed statement. He said that he plans to “retool” the Eagle, adding “more spaces for all people of the LGBTQIA+ community.” He did not specify a reopening date, but said patrons should keep an eye on social media, including baltimoreeagle.com, for “updates regarding the Eagle’s return.”

For now, however, the front door is locked, and canvas blinds are drawn over all the windows and inside door. And while no sign is posted anywhere, two hanging baskets with dried, dead plants remain strung up outside the windows. This current closure is the latest development in a near-half-decade of troubles for the bar.

The Baltimore Eagle, a staple of the city's leather community, weathered multiple closures, business disputes and hits to its public image over the last half-decade. It now sits shuttered.
The Baltimore Eagle, a staple of the city's leather community, weathered multiple closures, business disputes and hits to its public image over the last half-decade. It now sits shuttered. (Chris Kaltenbach / Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore Eagle initially operated from 1991 to 2012, the same year building owner Ian Parrish and his father, Charles, purchased the property. Five years later, it reopened in 2017 under the purview of 4 Crazy Guys, LLC. It closed in July 2018, amidst a dispute between 4 Crazy Guys and the Parrish family. The former party listed alleged violations of their licensing terms on the bar’s website, including body-shaming comments about female models in marketing materials and revoking managers’ access to the bar’s Facebook page, and other interference with business. At the time, Parrish denied taking Facebook access away and explained that the marketing critiques were simply meant to protect the trademark and public image.

The Baltimore Eagle then remained shuttered until the aforementioned April 2019 reopening as, in one of the members of the newest management group Chris Jay’s words, a “safe space” for not just the gay leather culture but all LGBTQ peoples. This most recent closing was preceded by confusing social media messages. On Aug. 5, the club’s Instagram page posted a screenshot of a Facebook post that announced, “We are sadly closing our doors on Aug 11 due to unforeseen circumstances. Please come support the Eagle this last week and say goodbye.”

Two Facebook posts went up the same day. “On August 11, the Eagle’s interim management team will reach the end of our contract, and preparations begin for the permanent team’s landing,” the first post read. On behalf of everyone involved, this is most definitely NOT goodbye. All of us remain committed to preserving our space as a safe, judgment-free environment where ALL people are welcome, while staying true to our leather and kink history and community."

“We want to apologize for all the draaaamaaaa!” the second post read. “An announcement was made by a member of the team before both the owners and managers had hammered everything out about the transition in management. So, we posted to ask everybody to stay cool while we work it out.”

A Yelp page for the Baltimore Eagle marks it as closed. A call to a phone number on that page yielded an automated out-of-service message.

Chris Jay, a member of the newest management group, did not immediately return The Sun’s request for comment.

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