Owner/Operator: John A. King
Current Status: Open
Date Opened: November 17, 1984
Date Closed: N/A
Reason for Closure: N/A
Previous Incarnations: Pair-a-Dice, M&Ms
Neighborhood: Central Phoenix, Queer Corridor, Melrose District
Type of Bar: Night Club, Dance Floor, Entertainment
Music: Country Western / Late Night Dance and House Music
Clientele: Broad range of gay men, some women mixed
Meaning Behind the Name: Unknown… who is Charlie? Is he on a speakerphone?
Charlie’s was originally located near the northeast corner of 7th Avenue @ Osborn in Phoenix at 3425 N. 7th Ave. in what is now the North Park Shopping Center, home to the gay Safeway. The bar was moved into its current home on Camelback west of 7th Avenue after M & M’s and Pair-A-Dice both failed at that location.
Charlies remains one of Phoenix’ most popular gay night spots to this day. Even those who don’t fully appreciate the sound of country music are frequent patrons, if only because of the great drink specials and cowboy cuties. It then becomes a matter of being able to wait until the small hours for the dance / house music to finally take over the turntables.
Besides being known for its line-dancing and classes to boot, Charlies has a huge outback patio area with bleachers for viewing the sand volleyball court action over the weekend. In the same patio area you’ll find an authentic street vendor style Mexican grill. Their tacos go great with the cheap Sunday afternoon Long Island ice teas!
During the early 00’s, Charlie’s almost had to move once more to make room for the new light rail line. Two other gay bars on Camelback were demolished for this purpose: Harley’s and Harley’s Too. Harley’s moved up to a place on Indian School and renamed itself Velocity for a while, then changed to Anvil.
Rather than move like Harley’s, the staff at Charlies stayed put. Instead of a move, they got a haircut. The front portion of the building was chopped off and is now flush with the new sidewalk along Camelback. This caused the interior layout to be completely rearranged. The adjoining retail buildings to the west were leveled, which made available more space for much needed additional parking. Not that you really need it now, considering the light rail station is at its doorstep.
I believe Charlie’s has sister properties in Las Vegas, Chicago and Denver, but I’m not sure if they’re all owned by the same person or organization. Please post here if you have details on ownership or any other thing you’d like to share about Charlies with us.
Thanks to Brad Bivvins for details on Charlie’s early days.