By Philip Read | Star Ledger
The following is an excerpt from Living Gay in the Garden State article
“You can actually hold hands,” says Bill Meisch, an Asbury pioneer who arrived in 1980, and opened “House of Modern Living” downtown.
“The arts scene helps.If you’re not gay, you have tattoos,” says Meisch, dubbed “The King of Cookman Avenue” by none other than Bruce Springsteen. “That arts sub-culture is here. It goes hand-in-hand, so it works.”
Asbury works, too, for longtime partners and New York transplants Scott Hamm and Gene Mignola. They arrived about three years ago, opening Shelter Home, a retail boutique and fabric printing operation on Cookman Avenue, with a satellite store on the boardwalk.
“We have gay friends who were either weekenders here or living here,” Mignola says as he leans against a counter featuring souvenir items called Tillie Clicks, refrigerator magnets bearing the likeness of Tillie, the iconic face with that oh-so-memorable grin, which once stood watch from the now-defunct Palace Amusements…
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