March 8, 1954 – April 12, 2022
James Patrick “Jimmy” Dowdle, known to many in the LGBTQ+ community as Poodles, was born in Battle Creek and graduated in 1972 from St. Philip Catholic Central High School. After moving to Detroit, he joined the waitstaff at Menjo’s, later served as manager, and was co-owner for several years in the early 2000s. For the last 16 years of his life, Dowdle tended bar at Danny’s Irish Pub in Ferndale.
OutPost, May 2022
Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care
June 21, 1928 – September 6, 2017
Ohio native Paul Eugene Espenscheid enjoyed a long career in hospitality, from the 1970s to the late 1980s was part owner and manager of the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in Monroe. Following the death of Mike Crawford in 1988, Espenschied became co-owner with Don Hazlett of Menjo’s dance club in Detroit. Beyond his business interests, he also supported a number of AIDS and gay rights causes.
Between The Lines, November 9, 2017
February 16, 1953 – February 14, 2011
Originally from Florida, Steve Nader got his start as a gay dance club DJ in Atlanta, Georgia. After moving to Michigan in the 1970s, he helped found the Disco Pool Detroit record pool and went on to spin discs at such bars as Five West, the Gas Station, Menjo’s, the Detroit Eagle, and Off Broadway East. He lost his life to prostate cancer at age 58.
Between The Lines [online only], May 7, 2015
January 21, 1970 – December 2, 1996
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Raishean Ali-Bai Garrett came of age and came out in Detroit in the late 1980s. He held a number of retail jobs in the fashion industry and a popular “club kid” at the Glass House, Menjo’s, Heaven, the Continental, Shoppers, and countless house parties. Before his death, Garrett moved with his sister to Columbia, South Carolina. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 26.
The State, December 3, 1996
Raishean, My Teacher and Muse
June 17, 1935 – November 2, 1990
Richard Dutton grew up in Birmingham, graduated from high school in 1953, and served as a medic in the U.S. Army. Following his military service, he held retail jobs before starting bartending at Tiffany’s in the early 1970s. He later operated the Cove with Lin Shampine and Norm Schwartz and then worked for Menjo’s and staffed the door at the Pink Flamingo. At age 55, Dutton took his own life.
Cruise, November 14, 1990
February 19, 1956 – March 14, 1999
George Edmund Potts, resident and booster of the Palmer Park neighborhood in Detroit was born in Highland Park and worked for many years in administration at Henry Ford Hospital. He later worked as a grant writer for the Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation. Potts was a familiar customer at Menjo’s.
Cruise, March 24, 1999
July 19, 1961 – June 10, 1986
Robert Dean Lowe, Boo-Boo to friends, graduated with the class of 1980 from Lakeshore High School in St. Clair Shores. He worked as doorman at Menjo’s nightclub in the mid-1980s and was co-owner of the popular afterhours dance emporium Heaven. Lowe was found shot to death in his Palmer Woods home in Detroit at age 25.
Cruise, June 18, 1986
Metra, June 18, 1986
July 15, 1930 – June 21, 1993
Stanley Raymond Jankiewicz, better known in Detroit’s gay bar world as Don Cherry, graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1949 and attended Wayne State University. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and later managed four city golf courses until retiring in 1987. For 27 years he tended bar at such establishments as the Woodward Lounge, the Gas Station, and Menjo’s.
Cruise, June 30, 1993
January 22, 1943 – June 23, 2005
Erroll Wayne Hert took his mother’s name Vaunda for his stage name, wowing audiences as the renowned Vaunda Lee at Menjo’s, the Gold Coast, Triple XXX, and other Detroit bars in the 1970s and 1980s. He won the Camp Prize from the Performer Awards of Detroit in 1982. Hert resided in his hometown of Bedford, Indiana at the time of his death.
Our Community Roots
July 13, 1964 – Last seen July 21, 1983
Shawn Patrick Raymond graduated from Algonac High School and worked in an area restaurant. On the night of July 21, 1983, the 19-year-old disappeared after spending an evening out at Menjo’s in Detroit. His remains were not found until 1992 and forensics identified them as his only in 2004. The homicide case remains unsolved.
OutPost, April 14, 2004
NBC News, July 28, 2018
Port Huron Times-Herald, August 1, 2018