by Steve Ramos (aka Veronika Electronika)
Inside Out Nashville
This year Pat Blaylock, owner of The Cabaret Episode 2 will receive the Grand Marquise’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-standing involvement in the entertaining world of female impersonation and his efforts helping to launch many famous careers.
The Miss Grand Marquise Pageant is a national pageant which highlights the glamour, elegance, prestige and beauty of female impersonators with more than $3,000 in cash and prizes will be held this Sunday, March 25 at Play Dance Bar.
Popular female impersonator Veronika Electronika interviewed Pat recently, here is the interview.
Picture it, Nashville, Tennessee, at the Cabaret Episode 2, it’s about 7pm on a Wednesday. The staff of the popular Nashville nightspot is getting the venue ready for the first night of pillow fighting and the regular Wednesday night crowd. I find Pat holding a wrench and a screwdriver inside of the dressing room, on his usual tour of duty to keep up the place. I ask if he has the time for the interview that we had talked about previously, he obliges and we retire to the pool room.
Veronika: What in the world made you get into the gay bar business?
Pat Blaylock: It all started in Printer’s Alley in a small bar on the upper lever of the alley. Back then Printers Alley was ‘the place to go’ and the only thing on Second Avenue was the Spaghetti Factory. Along with business partners Joel and Jerry, Pat made a very popular tourist attraction out of the Printers Alley bar.
V: How long ago did you start?
P: The original Cabaret was born in 1974.
V: Over the years the ‘Cab’ has gone through some changes, do you regret closing the original venue on Printers Alley, or Hayes Street?
P: Not the Printers Alley location, we had a good two years there. The Hayes Street location had a great 19 years. It opened on June 15, 1977. Within the first month it was packed. The reason that we closed in 1993 was because we found out that Linda (Pat’s wife) was pregnant. After I had been approached several times about my building being for sale, when officially it had not, I told them to show me the money, and someone finally did.
The day that the Hayes St. deal went through we got the good news from the hospital. Shortly after the sale of the Hayes Street bar, the Connection on 4th Avenue opened, and I was standing at the front door watching all of my old customers walking in.
V: If you weren’t running this place what would you be doing?
P: I don’t know…. Real Estate
V: So many bars have come and gone what’s the Cab’s secret?
P: You’ve got to be there… Be at the Bar!!! If you are going to run a nightclub then you have to be a part of the club… not a customer, an active manager. And remember there is only so much money that you can get out of people.
V: So this is a lifetime achievement award, anything that you think you’ve missed?
P: That’s hard to explain… I ain’t dead yet! For starters.
V: Lots of local and national talent has worked for you over the years, and that stick out?
P: Carmella Marcella Garcia, and Charlie Brown… both from Nashville, and both started at the Cabaret. These new girls now-a-days won’t promote themselves, you really need to get out there, be motivated, be flexible and take the good advice that’s given to you. Gary Broderick, now there is a talent! Awesome stage presence, greatest Emcee that I ever had, and he turned down producers time and time again… and did it all without doing drag…except that one time… but we wont go there….
V: What next?
P: I have something in the works and I have my feelers out…. Stay tuned for details!
P: I don’t want to retire, I don’t want to close the bar, and I want to keep doing things!
V: Long live Pat Blaylock! LOL… What in the business changed over time?
P: Everything! I started in the bar business in California in the 1960’s working with bands at different venues, then moving to Nashville I started working with they guys down here. The 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s were very good years. In the 1980’s the rents started going up, and overhead charges were on the rise. I just recently raised our cover charge here to $8.00 on Saturday nights. Things are always changing!
P: HIV and the Internet. In the 1980’s it seemed like we were going to funerals every week. People got scared and really changed their routines.
V: Is there anything that you’d like to say to Nashville in regards to receiving this award?
P: I don’t know that I deserve it, but thank you! There’s more I’d like to do!
V: People have been known to think of you as stubborn, cheap and an all around ass…your comment? (Yes I went there)
P: There’s not a name that I haven’t been called! The people that think of me that way, probably really
V: How’s your old friend Jungle Jim?
P: He’s a trip!
V: Is the Cabaret a Lesbian bar?
P: It is not a Lesbian bar, it?s a show bar… but lesbians have seemed to call it home. Everyone is welcome here! The girls separated themselves in the 1980’s, I think because of the HIV, you see men were getting it, and women weren’t. So there became a divide in the crowd. The divide seems to still be there, even though times have changed.
V: Any advice to anyone that might want to open a bar in town?
P: Don’t do it… what are you thinking besides your own ego?…We wrapped up the interview with a few laughs and just a couple interruptions from cast members, and phone calls, but all in all I would have to say that Pat is a nice guy that you just have to take the time to get to know. Don’t let the Hawaiian shirts, cigars, and quick wit turn you off at the door. don’t know me…just don’t try to get one over on me!
V: Over time, what have been the most radical reasons for change in the community?
The Cabaret is and always will be one of my ‘spots’ and I always feel welcome there, and I know that you will too. So, if it’s been a while, stop on by and give him a quick hello and catch a show or too with a friend …because What good is sitting alone in your room, come hear the music play… Life is a Cabaret, ole chum… Come to the Cabaret!