We opened in 2008, and we’ve been residents of Ossington Ave. since some time prior to that.
We are told over and over that The Painted Lady has a really warm, very unique, electrically-charged energy about her, and that she makes people feel so good. And we’re happy to hear this. We put a lot of love and passion into our freakishly sexy creation, The Painted Lady, not to mention Vodka.
The Painted Lady is an original, authentic Toronto establishment with a big heart, and a uniquely fine-tuned vision. A few too many, and the finer-tuned she gets it seems 😉 Couldn’t resist. Though the vision for The Lady was crystalized many moons ago, in another city, and in another country – in another galaxy in fact – she came to life on Ossingtone Avenue at the South-West corner of Dundas Street West in Toronto. She is one of the very few Ossington originals.
Her influences come from far, deep, and wide, and she is the culmination of said influences, and their artful distillation via the individual psyches, all the mind matter and heart matter, and all the living cells – the dead ones too – of her two owners and creators. But enough about them, let’s get back to her.
T*H*E L*A*D*Y, as she’s affectionately known, has been at the forefront of the Ossingtone scene since first shimmying out of her drawers – sorry – opening her doors. This is too easy. Her reputation as a great place to party has been evidenced time and again by all the hookups, breakups, marriages, divorces, countless hangovers, and the crazy, mad-fun nights and early mornings she’s inspired. The number of bras left behind over the years is noteworthy as well. And her reputation as a cultural tastemaker – and at times her blatant indulgence in deliciously guilty-pleasured, unabashedly fun tastelessness – has also been cited more than once at the very least.
Furthermore, her reputation as a truly wonderful sounding – and feeling – live music venue is well deserved. She’s constantly tweaking knobs, and fretting over the most minute details to ensure an artist sounds his or her best. She only uses proven, top quality, super sounding gear. Her sightlines are superb. She was built with audio and video in mind – even the type of wood we used for her bar and wainscotting was specifically chosen for its audio warmth and other beneficial properties. She’s got plenty of juice in all the right places. Plug whatever you want in. Six 2k Arri lights in a row, no problem. And she’s intimate, yet has a proportionally large capacity. She truly is an ideal showcase venue. Veteran and legendary music promoters and publishers will testify to this. And she only employs audio professionals with great ears and experience to match, who by the way, are artists in their own right. And some of these guys have won some pretty big awards for what they do.
Her love for and her taste in music, her unique programming and format, her taste in artisanal food and drink, her original and irreverently clever naming of things, her obsession with great sound, culture and entertainment, her beautiful and cheeky burlesque nights, and her special brand of no-holds-barred partying – even the lingo she’s used on her website, posters, and ads throughout the years, and the tone of that lingo – has inspired many subsequent live music & performance venues, restaurants, musicians and bands, dj’s, writers, filmmakers, and other artists and establishments throughout Toronto and elsewhere. Indeed, check out some of her reviews – all unsolicited – and there you’ll read that she’s been many things to many people. Everyone vibes off good energy, and that’s what it’s about really – communion with everyone else.
And ‘everyone’ does come to The Lady. Her patrons come from all walks of life, from all over the greater Toronto area, from across Canada, and from all over the world. She’s been sent t-shirts from German club owners as a “Danke Schoen” for being shown one f*ck tonne of a great time, post cards from Japan saying “Konnichiwa”, and cleats fresh off the sweaty, perfumed feet of a striker from a football (soccer) team comprised of Brazilian ‘Drag Queens’ after facing off in full drag regalia – wigs, make-up, boas, garters, dresses and all – against a very competitive, all-straight (heterosexual) male team, among other sundry items sent as expressions of deep gratitude. Famous actors, big-name music producers, Grammy Award winners, Juno Award winners, well-known writers, filmmakers and visual artists, have either taken the stage here, or leaned across The Lady’s bar to order a drink and hang out with us.
And the age of the patrons here is all over the map as well. It ranges from the minimum Ontario drinking age to kids in their 90’s – no joke. They all swim well together. The mix of patrons here is amazing, and at times surreal, and wonderfully odd. And it just ups the voltage of everything. We’ve got a full representation of sentient beings here kids, right across the whole light spectrum.
And we’re seriously proud of this eclectic, vibey mix. It reflects the very fabric of Toronto itself, and the country as a whole. And yet more than a few have remarked that The Lady feels like no other bar anywhere, that it’s like another world in another dimension, that something special is going on… And it could be coincidence, but remarks and complements such as these usually follow several special concoctions we prepare with scientific precision in our solid Mohagany-clad, Silver-Dollar Style lab. Hmmm…
And so it goes, our world goes ’round, the earth continues to revolve around the sun, and The Lady continues to do her thing. She continues to do her part in building and evolving the scene here on OZ at Dundas West. She continues to sip on good Kentucky Bourbon, and play vinyl records on her fancy turntable. She continues to tart it up in sequins and cheap, purple velvet-lined, rhinestone encrusted sunglasses. She continues to smear her lipstick as she turns away from her glass to slur an “Oh Hello” to a new friend, run her mascara at the hearing of a sad story, and ladder every single pair of stockings she’s ever bought on the very first wear. She continues to espouse an all-analog audio aesthetic, a short signal path, be it wire with gain, or divinely designed transformered circuits of the solid state, or of the hand-wired with tubes variety, complete with forearm-sized, staggeringly beautiful-sounding vintage transformers made from unobtainium circa the 1940’s. She continues to promote music and art, and all things culture in Toronto, and by extension, Canada. And she continues to be inspired by everything around her as well, near and far, in one way or another. It’s a big, gorgeous world after all, and it just keeps getting so much bigger and so much smaller every day. And beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. So have at it.
All of us at The Painted Lady are here to help… To ease things up a bit, to turn you on, to ratchet things up, to help you connect the dots, to help you connect, to play your favourite Benny Hill, Mr. Bean, or Jackass video, your favourite song of the moment, to lend an ear, to offer some really bad relationship advice, yet always to serve you up some consistently great food and drink from some of the friendliest, most good-hearted people you’ll ever meet.
We are commited to all this. It’s a passion for good times. We are commited to the community here. We are commited to the Ossington culture. And we are commited to all the very fine people who walk through our doors – each and every one of you. Really, some of you should be ‘commited’. And likewise, our programming reflects all of you curiously interesting folks, and our own twisted take on things.
We truly appreciate and love every one of you.
Cheers, Slainte, Peace & Love, Nanu Nanu, and every other manner of warm greeting, preferably uttered just prior to sipping on a glass of something terribly potent, yet marvelously palatable…
The Painted Lady