Night Watch: Lady GaGa Owes Her Fame to Bill's Filling Station
Bill's Filling Station
2209 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
Call 954-567-5978, or visit here.
I love this bar. We passed through the narrow entrance with the "fasten seat belts" sign at the front and into the realm of the bald-headed, beer-gutted, fuzzy-faced elite. The first thing I made out as my eyes adjusted to the cave-like interior? An old gent wearing a T-shirt with "Provincetown Bears" printed on the back.
Bill's has your tinsel streamers, posters of half-naked bearded studs, flashing lights and disco balls. The wooden dance floor, however, was mostly unoccupied - save for one mustachioed man wearing a white polo and ankle bracelet thrusting his hips in little circles. Other patrons observed from tables and the foot of the stage. Lady GaGa videos flashed on the big screen TV and her music boomed continuously. In a flash, I was down a few steps and pushing my way up to the joint's smaller bar, the space of which was adorned with a variety of license plates from our 50 great states. I was momentarily distracted by two heavily made-up drag queens wearing veils and carrying buckets of beer, but you know me; I don't let a pretty face stop a booze mission. But evidently my friend Beard does. To my left, he had been waylaid: a young man in a tie had swept him up in a bear hug (pun only slightly intended).
"Thank you for being here," the tie-clad dude said warmly. "You're exactly my type."
At the bar, I coincidentally ran into Mark and Jackson, two good-looking amiable guys who greeted everyone with a friendly peck on the cheek. Oh, they're also the owners of Bill's Filling Station.
"Tell me about this place," I said.
"We have the best burger," said Mark.
"Oh, no, I just had that at Georgie's," argued Beard, after disentangling himself from the tie.
"Georgie's is officially the best, but we're better," said Mark. "We're just a well-kept secret."
"We also do a lot of charity - for Kid's in Distress; fundraisers, that sort of thing," Jackson said. I was going to ask another question but I was distracted by Lady Gaga's music video antics. My eyes drifted.
"You know, we helped Lady GaGa get to #1," Mark said. "Back in 2007, a woman named Stefani came in with her dancers and asked to use our stage. We were like, 'Yeah, sure.' No one knew her, but when she started performing, everyone stopped what they were doing and stared."
"Later, I was flipping through channels and saw Stefani - Lady GaGa - on TV. I immediately yelled for Jackson. 'Get in here - I think that's the woman who played at our club!'"
"After that, she autographed a photo and wrote 'Thanks for getting me to number 1!'" Jackson finished.
Lady GaGa now seems a hundred times cooler to me for having played at Bill's.
On my way back across the dance floor and up to the first-tier bar, I ran into Pete, who was thin with a well-trimmed beard and shiny T-shirt. He was also super-super sweet and just one more reason why Bill's is great: It may be a bear bar, and yeah, I was the only girl there in a packed room of hairy men - but some days that's the only place I wanna be. No pressure, no games, no judgment, just me and a bunch of gay dudes - and not the bitchy kind; the butch kind.
Pete opined on his feelings for Bill's: "This is a man's bar, but it's laid-back. A good place to unwind; there's no pressure to hook up."
Then, he let me touch his beard. Did I mention I love this bar?