The Chicago Gay Bar That’s Apparently Letting Kids Pick Up Trans Hookers

La Cueva, a Latino queer bar in Chicago’s Little Village on the West Side and described as “oldest Latino drag club in the country” (it opened in 1972) is no longer welcome to some in the community. Something about all that prostitution?

Opponents [of La Cueva …] say that the bar is a site of illegal activity in a neighborhood that is home to many families. They say that La Cueva, a nondescript façade on a busy commercial stretch of West 26th Street, sells alcohol to minors, allows drug dealing on its premises and encourages prostitution in the neighborhood.

“It’s causing a lot of havoc and dismay to the residents of the area,” said Raul Montes, Jr., who organized a protest and press conference outside of La Cueva Aug. 17. On nights that the bar is open, he said, there are “transsexuals and transvestites on every corner,” with “young kids picking them up.” He claimed that he recently was the subject of attempted solicitation by a group of people he thought to be transgender women. “It was disgusting,” he said.

First, I’d like to know what “young kids” have the pocket money to solicit any prostitutes. And second, I’d like to speak to their parents.

Not that Mr. Montes has a problem with your queers.

Montes said that his complaints, which he has taken to the local alderman and police commander, are not motivated by anti-gay bias. “If anybody were to ask me, I don’t have a problem with gay people,” Montes said. “It’s the illegal activity. It could be any type of bar.”

Naturally, the place has its defenders.

Ruben Lechuga, who manages La Cueva and owns the building it is housed in, denied the protesters’ charges. “We don’t have any problems inside,” he said, and when illegal activity is apparent out front, “we call the police.” Lechuga said that the bar had been in its Little Village location for 30 years with no problems from the neighborhood. “I go to the CAPS [ Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy ] meetings every month,” he said, referring to Chicago’s community policing initiative.

Project VIDA, an organization that provides services to people affected by HIV/AIDS, has offices in Little Village. Its executive director, Olivia Sanchez, told Windy City Times that she had been going to the bar since she was 21, drawn to the eclectic crowd that La Cueva attracts. She said that the space is diverse in terms of age, race, and gender expression. “You get your traditional Mexican with the cowboy hat and belt and matching boots—and [ you get ] same-gender couples,” she said. “While you’re in there, it’s like a whole new world from the outside.”

Is anyone surprised that a not-so-chic bar might have patrons that engage in illicit activities? Nope. Does it happen at bars that aren’t geared toward LGBTs? Yep. Is Mr. Montes going after them? Not that I’m aware of.

[via Rod 2.0; photo via]

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #chicago #lacueva #nightlife stories and more


  • whiz

    That is almost ANY bar on the west side. They’re just getting all uppity because it’s a gay bar. As far as prostitution and young kids- a lot of it is because of pressures at home and in the predominantly Catholic and crazy-Christian hispanic and black community. I’ve been there before a few times and I’ve never seen any 12 year olds drunk off their ass or prostitutes. Were their hookers and good-time guys hangin around down the block…yeah. Because it’s a shitty part of the neighborhood. Anywhere there is a bar there is going to be some shady people around. Get over it.

  • Michael

    The bar has been in the same spot and paying taxes since 1972? It almost qualifies for a historical facade easement, and I’d say Senor Montes needs to get a hobby, or a hooker.

  • Ogre Magi

    Sound like a cool bar


    Bunch of 14 year olds hangin out:

    Jeremy: Hey Jason! did ya get the new X-Box game that came out this week???

    Jason: Naw, I blew all my money on a transvestite prostitute again last night……….

    Jeremy: Dude, you are getting out of control hiring all those transvestite prostitutes!!!………

    Some how I really don’t think that conversation occurs anywhere but in Raul Montes twisted warped mind………………..

    And who wants to lay odds on him being the one hiring transvestite prostitutes???

  • Paco

    First off last time I checked there were even a couple of Tgirls working outside of berlin or at least across from 1000 liquors..I been to La Cueva are there TG hookers on the corners yes….and the police do respond. I would not single out la cueva for being a haven for prostitution, I think it would remain if they shut it down as well. They were good at getting rid of all the girls on north ave by the exit were they not ? I have never seen underage drinking there, and they always check I.D.’s I think the police should step up their patrols not the club because they don’t hang out in front of the club. I think people are just embarrassed at the fact that this exists in other places other than the northside of chicago. With that in mind I will now leave you and get ready to go to la cueva who knows how long it will last.

  • the chika

    what age can you go into this club?

  • jay dee

    i Raul montes, he has been in the thorn in the side of this community, he’s running for Alderman in the 22nd ward, if he wins you can almost guarantee he wiil close the bar. i bet he has never even stepped in that bar in his life

  • lost guy

    I was just at that club on Saturday night. I’ve never seen it so full. I have a couple things to say. 1. I havnt got carded in a long time (from bars, strippclubs, liquor stores) I actually got carded at the door by their greeter/security guard. So I really doubt theirs any minors getting in let alone drinking in the establishment. 2. Their are a lot (easily more than 6 ) of hookers BY the club, but they can not hang around within 200 or 300 ft from the club (unless u stepped out for a smoke) without getting questioned by security or having a law enforcement officer giving you a hard time. Their are several police cars driving up and down 26th st between Pulaski and California because of the working “girls” as for these kids picking them up, I want to know where their parents are and what they think of it all. All in all I think hookers are everywhere not just here and yes that needs to get addressed. 3.drug use and solicitation inside the club is prohibited and strictly enforced. Mens room has no doors due to the fact that they have had problems in the past but has been taken care off. 4. Most the people in the club just want to have fun just like at any other bar

Comments are closed.