In 1927, as the Forrest Theater in Philadelphia broke ground right next-door, and the abandoned storefront became a bar called the Star Lite cafe. Though there was more to this bar than meets the eye!
The second floor housed the famous lesbian bar called Rusty’s. You paid a $2 cover to get in, and you received drink tickets. The owner, Rusty Parisi, became famous after an interview for the feminist newspaper Wicce, where she told her story.
One year after that, on March 8, 1968, the police raided the bar, the women were verbally abused, and some were even booked and kept overnight.After a second raid just days later, and community backlash, the police issued a statement that “homosexuals have been, are now, and will be treated equally with heterosexuals.”
The police statement was considered a huge win for gay rights back in the 60s.
Years later, in 1974, the current owner, John Ferry purchased the bar, and it became Moriarty’s Irish Pub. Not long after, the theater was booming, and so were we!
In the 1980s, the Forrest Theatre was huge. Cats played there, and Les Misérables, and tons of other shows. People came here for dinner before, and the stars used to come in (Moriarty’s Pub) afterwards. Elizabeth Taylor, Anthony Quinn, Joel Grey. I remember when Kathleen Turner was in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, she’d come up to the second-floor bar and pound bourbons every night! (The Inquirer – 2014)
The theatre was built in 1927 at the cost of $2 million, and was designed by architect Herbert J. Krapp and was named after the 19th-century actor Edwin Forrest, who was born in Philadelphia. The opening performance was The Red Robe in 1928. A renovation of the theatre was undertaken in 1997.
Recently revamped, and re-opened, the Forrest Theater continues to be our lifelong partner!