History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Businesses - Bars and Clubs

Hot Legs Video Nite Club
Location: 814 S. 2nd Street, Milwaukee WI


October 1984
September 1987

Female/ male
Bar/ social



Hot Legs Video Nite Club opened in October or November 1984 by co-owners Kathy and Karen, in the site of the old Shadows bar. For a time Hot Legs was THE lesbian bar in Milwaukee. The bar hosted a softball team in the SSBL/ Saturday Softball League, held shows and parties, as well as contests such as a Women's Wet T-shirt Contest.

The bar also was one of the hosts of 'MAPFest 1986' providing the central anchor of the event, a fundraiser for MAP, the Milwaukee AIDS Project.

On a high note, the Hot Legs softball team was one of two teams representing Milwaukee in the Gay World Series in 1987. Although they narrowly lost two games there, at home again they did win the SSBL trophy for Women's Playoff Champion.

About the time the softball team arrived back home from the Gay World Series however, the bar had closed and the building was advertised as being available for lease. Speculation at the time was that competition from two other lesbian bars, Fannie's (which had long been open) and Gay Street Station (which opened in July 1986) had taken away many of the women who had been Hot Legs customers.

After Hot Legs closed, the building's owner (Matthew Gorden) reopened the bar as Shadows II- The Top Shelf- heralding an attempt to recapture the old Shadows crowd.)

Other LGBT businesses in this location include:

Read a summary of the history of these 8 businesses and their effect on Milwaukee LGBT nitelife written by Project Curator Michail Takach at the Black Forest Legacy page.

Steppin' Out column:
Shadows being ripped apart for
new bar to be called Hot Legs
(In Step vol. 1-12, Sept. 1984)
Ad: Watch for the opening of
the new Video Nightclub Hot Legs
(In Step vol. 1-12, October 1984)
Photos from Debi Vance's birthday party:
(top) Debi Vance, co-owner Karen,
and part time D.J. Kim Z.;
(bottom) Michael Murphy & Dennis Wolke
(In Step vol. 1-16, Dec. 1984)

Photo: co-owner Kathy
& Advertisement, Drink Specials
(In Step vol. 2-01, Jan. 1985)
Ad: Grand Opening scheduled for April
(In Step vol. 2-07, April 1985)
Jock Shorts column: Hot Legs team
one of many on Opening Day schedule
(In Step vol. 2-09, May 1985)

Photos from Grand Opening party:
(In Step vol. 2-09, May 1985)
Ad: upcoming Wet T-shirt party
(In Step vol. 3-13, July 1986)
Article: Hot Legs and two other bars to sponsor MAP Fest fundraiser
(In Step vol. 3-13, July 1986)

Photos: Wet T-shirt party
(In Step vol. 3-14, July 1986)
Article: Wet T-shirt party was on a hot and steamy night; contestants lined up against the garden fence and buckets of water thrown on them
(In Step vol. 3-14, July 1986)

MAP FEST Article, Street Map and Event Schedule
(In Step vol. 3-16, August 1986)

Photos: Beach Party
(In Step vol. 4-04, April 1987)
Article: Hot Legs softball team to
represent Milwaukee in Gay World Series
(In Step vol. 4-16, Sept. 1987)
Article: Hot Legs softball team narrowly loses to other teams at Gay World Series, but gets SSBL trophy as Woman's Playoff Champion
(In Step vol. 4-16, Sept. 1987)

The building as it existed in 2004
(Photo by Don Schwamb, May 2004)

Steppin Out article: old Shadows
being ripped apart to reopen as Hot Legs
(InStep vol 1-12, Sept. 1984)

Steppin Out article: After Hot Legs closure,
building owner Matthew Gorden plans to
reopen location as Shadows II
(InStep vol 4-19, Nov. 1987)

Credits: web site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: March-2023.

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