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Sportsman Hotel karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

REVIEW: Sportsman Hotel


The Sportsman Hotel is a gay pub. Not 'gay friendly', but absolutely, decidedly, wholeheartedly and committedly gay.

And it has weekly karaoke.

Beneath the two street level bars, accessed via a dark set of stairs heading down from the street, is the 'Mine Shaft' bar - a place where even the brave tread fearfully. For this is 'bear' territory - think dark and dingy and dangerous, the reserve of men with hairy chests, leather G-strings, belts, buckles, and the ass cut out of their black leather pants - and, inconguously, with names like 'Mary' or 'Petal'. And this is also the haunt of those seeking to be eaten by bears. The sign says 'This is a men only bar - nudity is forbidden by law' in a way that suggests the law is unlikely to be sought in this establishment.

The poster on the wall is of a muscled body in its prime, black pants worn somewhat lower than expected, and obvious excitement displayed in a head-on view to the audience. 'Hi, what you like, love?' asks the barman of me as soon as I wedge myself in against the bar and attract his attention. I drink Gold, and the price is unexpectedly cheap.

This is not the normal bar for karaoke at the Sportsman Hotel in Brisbane, Spring Hill - but on the eve of Australia Day the karaoke has been pushed down here because of 'entertainment' running in the main street level bar. So today, unusually, the audience here is mixed, and several ladies (least I think they are ladies) are present. The karaoke is being run from the stage in the crook of the 'L' in this oddly shaped room - a stage that seems to have been designed to hold x-rated performers and their apparatus. The back and side of the stage are mirrored, giving the sort of all-round view of the singers that I have not previously encountered.

But the host is funny - and chatty and amusing. He seems to have taken over from the more mature host who used to run this venue, and he does seem to suit the position with his boyish jokes and pleasant humour. The throw-away lines come and go easily, and the stream of singers comes happily to the stage. I think the singers must be regulars, because they sing well, and the audience gives an average amount of applause.

Two speakers are up on poles, one each side of the stage, and they seem rather small. But this is a venue long known for sound quality somewhat behind that used for the platform announcements down the road by Queensland Rail, and so even these poor attempts at speakers are probably the best that the Sportsman has to offer in hi-fidelity. At least the music balance, courtesy of a (genuine) lady, who I think was called Marie, is good and consistent. (And the sound consistently muffled, lacking in reverb, and minus any real top end or lower end).

I was remiss in not checking the entent of the songlist, but that would have involved a trip to the furthest reaches of the room, down past the end of the bar and around the corner into a section in which people seemed to go but not re-appear, and so I have no knowledge of whether the songs people were selecting was by pure unfortunate taste, or by necessity of the limitations of the song list. Or perhaps I am simply used to a different taste . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

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