4. The Mafia Owned the Bar During the 1960s
Gay bars were not legal in New York City until 1967. During this time, members of the Mafia were willing to run gay bars (for business reasons predominantly, not altruistic ones necessarily).In order to stay open, the Mafia would pay the police to ignore them or give them alerts before raids. This price only took a small amount of their profits from the drinks, coat check, and jukebox.
When Stonewall visitors arrived, however, they had to sign their name on a list. This list allowed the owners of the bar to keep track of their customers and command a sense of exclusivity. This only worked so well as the names “Judy Garland” and “Donald Duck” often appeared on the list. Guests rarely used their real name.