A spotlight on Buffalo’s biggest and oldest gay nightclub
Friday and Saturday nights are for sipping drinks while watching drag queens dance under Marcella’s purple lights.
Club Marcella is the oldest and largest gay nightclub in Western New York and has served its patrons for 22 years. The club is located on Pearl Street right off of Chippewa Street in the heart of downtown Buffalo. Doors are open every Friday and Saturday night to everyone 18 and older with proper ID.
But there is something more engrained in the club’s walls and floors: a home.
Joe “Marcella” Guagliardo, owner of Club Marcella, has a personal story attached to the club opening.
“I remember back in the day, being gay was hard,” Guagliardo said. “We didn’t have places where we could go and just have a good time. I opened Club Marcella so that everyone who didn’t feel accepted or wanted in the Buffalo nightlife had a place where they could be themselves. I wanted them to have what I could only dream of at the time.”
In the eyes of the owner, the club staff and many patrons, Club Marcella has filled a void in the LGBTQ community like no other nightclub had before.
Marcella provides a safe space for anyone who passes through their doors, while encouraging individual expression.
Club Marcella’s weekly drag shows bring in big numbers.
Kevin Wagner, a show director and drag queen by the name of “Jayme Coxx,” talked about the importance of student involvement.
Club Marcella held a drag competition between colleges every Thursday night that went on for about six years.
“It was great to see all these schools come together to compete and have a good time,” Wagner said. “It wasn’t one of those competitions where only the big schools could win,because all the little schools saw it as a huge challenge and won just as much as them. My heart is in those college nights and I’m glad I could be a role model and a mentor to those kids.”
The College Wars may have ended but the Club Marcella staff has kept all its collegiate visitors in mind.
Richard Lindner, the club manager, explained why it’s so important to hold onto their younger patrons and is thinking about bringing back Thursday night College Wars.
“Even though it was a really great thing for everyone involved, we remember what it was like being young and that there are all sorts of problems college kids have when it comes to going out,” Lindner said. “Sometimes they travel pretty far and of course they have to find a way home, sometimes going out every week gets expensive and we know this.”
Thursday night events will likely take place once a month to make it easier for college students to attend and there will still be Friday and Saturday night shows.
Russell Colosimo, a member of the Marcella security staff says that all people are welcome, not just those in the LGBT community.
“I’m a straight guy so I get why some people might think twice about coming here, but it’s great here and the thing I love about this place is the atmosphere,” Colosimo said. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot to take in your first time around, but you find out pretty quickly that everyone is really cool no matter [what]. Everyone here has three jobs: to make it safe here, make it fun here and make you feel like family and that’s what we’re all about.”
Carlos Leyte is a staff writer for the features desk and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org