Mr. Silk’s 3rd Base

Gus “Mr. Silk” Lacey, was the unofficial mayor of S 52nd Street, aka “the Strip.” He and his wife, Virginia, owned Mr. Silk’s 3rd Base.

Heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, and music legends Cab Calloway, Teddy Pendergrass and Stevie Wonder were among the celebrities who frequented Mr. Silk’s.

Jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott performed here. In his biography, Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott, he recounted the neon sign outside read: “Always Touch Third Base Before You Go Home.”

Mr. Silk’s 3rd Base was featured in the 1972 blaxploitation film Trick Baby.

Film critic Dan Buskirk wrote:

Between “White Folks” and Blue, we see both sides of the city: from a posh dinner party where “White Folks” meets well-heeled businessmen whose greed makes them potential marks as well as the raucous scene at “Mr. Silk’s Third Base” a West Philly nightclub that functions as Blue’s unofficial office. We see a lot of the warm glowing interior of Mr. Silk’s. The club was a real place, a center of African American nightlife (their slogan was “You have to touch 3rd Base before you go home”).

Owner Gus Lacy was “Mr. Silk,” by all accounts a bon vivant who received his smooth moniker by selling ladies’ undergarments along his postal route. He was also known as “The Mayor of 52nd Street” and before it closed in 1985 politicians, pimps and regular folks rubbed shoulders with stars like Stevie Wonder, Muhammad Ali and James Earl Jones. It’s a blessing that this little corner of the world was captured on film.

A blessing indeed.

5 thoughts on “Mr. Silk’s 3rd Base”

  1. Yes, Gus was the man!! I remember my father speaking of all of the guys meeting up there on Friday nights, Earl Stout, “Birdcage” Kennedy, Charlie Hubbard, Captain Reeves, Walt Sullivan,List Winfree,etc!! And oh the stories they would tell us the next day!! Oh, and heaven only knows, don’t let Cab Calloway come to town😂😂😂
    It was definitely on!!!!

  2. Gus Lacey’s the place I met Muhammad Ali and his mama. What a great experience with a great guy and Mama too!

  3. All good but I had the most fun at the disco THE GRADUATE ON. JUNIPER ST….HE OWNED….CLASSEY PLACE….HAD BIG FUN

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