Gay Bars and the Mafia

Genovese Capo Matty the Horse Ianiello and Gay Bars

Author Phillip Crawford Jr. has released a dramatic and shocking account,¬†The Mafia and the Gays, showing how the New York Mafia and the Chicago Outfit used the societal fear and loathing of to earn money. The Genovese man who oversaw the segment of Mob business was Matty the Horse Ianiello. He is known best for his control of Manhatten’s Times Square and 42nd Street Combat Zone of peep shows, strip clubs, and gay bars. In the 1950s-1960s, homosexual acts were banned by most state laws and city ordinances. Vice Units of most large city police departments spent a certain amount of their time in enforcing these laws. They often targeted taverns catering to gay men and women. The mob and men like Matty the Horse Ianiello had connections with the cops and for a piece of the action or a fee, they could buy off a Vice Unit and prevent raids. Mr. Crawford did extensive research and supports his stories with excerpts from Freedom of Information Act requests from FBI files.

Gay Bars and Frank Costello

Frank Costello associate and jukebox king Alfred Miniaci funded dozens of gay bars and other joints controlled by the Mafia in the 1950s and 1960s including the Peppermint Lounge. Miniaci supplied slot machines in the 1930s to Frank Costello. He actually had dinner with Costello on May 2, 1957, the night he was shot.

Vito Genovese

Crawford reports that during a messy divorce from Vito Genovese, Anna Genovese testified that her husband controlled several gay clubs using frontmen. Among those was Club 82 where tourists enjoyed drag shows. Club 82 and several other Manhateen gay clubs became sots where addicts could find heroin dealers and Genovese took a piece of that action. Matty the Horse Ianiello helped Genovese get control of gay clubs in order that they become an integral part of Genovese narcotics distribution network.

Joe Columbo

In the 1970s, a man named Steve Ostrow owned and operated the iconic Continential baths. A gay bathhouse was a place where gay men could hook up and have anonymous sex with others. Ostrow has said that he used the Columbo family for trash service, jukeboxes, other vending machines, and to pay off cops. This was a huge place that dealt in cash making it a perfect mobbed-up place. He tells a story about how Ostrow was delinquent by $17,000.00 in New York State taxes. A Colombo loan shark fronted this money. Steve Ostrow was the man singing the Star Spangled Banner for Colombo when he was murdered.

Joe DiVarco

Mr. Crawford tells how Chicago Outfit capo DiVarco controlled the Rush Street area and all gay bars paid him off for protection against the Chicago Cops.

Show Notes by Gary Jenkins

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