The Old Reliable’s Odd Mix

The Old Reliable’s Odd Mix

In 1968, Michael McGrinder staged his first play, The Foreigners, at the Old Reliable, and it quickly became a second home for him. “Michael McGrinder was very rare in those circles,” Robert Patrick recalled. “He’s a heterosexual. That was an amazingly gay crowd at the Old Reliable.” As for the clientele in the front bar—which was mostly composed of straight truckers and dockworkers who came by for cheap booze and friendly girls—that didn’t really change. And for the most part, the two groups maintained a peaceful coexistence. “I think everybody, including the drinking workingmen, appreciated the surreal aspect of it,” Patrick said. “If I did some crazy musical where actors would be entering from the bar, you’d just be leaning on the bar itself in between two Polish laborers to support your costume, or headdress. And when it was time for your entrance you said, ‘See you later, fellas.’ And they’d say, ‘See ya.’ ” As Paul Foster observed, “I find that blue-collar people don’t give a damn what you do as long as you pay your way and don’t try to get sassy with them.”

From Chapter 14 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Old Reliable Theatre Tavern
231 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009