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Malcolm Vaughan

In this podcast Malcolm Vaughan talks about the many Wellington bars and hospitality establishments he has owned or worked in over the last four decades. This is part one of a longer interview - part two can be heard here.

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This summary focuses on the extensive interview with Malcolm Kennedy-Vaughan, a veteran in the Wellington LGBTQ+ hospitality scene. Recorded at Scotty and Mal’s Cocktail Bar, where they celebrated nearly 15 years in business, Malcolm discussed their imminent retirement disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The interview delved into the effects of COVID-19 on Wellington's nightlife, revealing a significant impact on the hospitality industry and the introduction of vaccine passes as an adaptive measure to keep bars operating safely.

Malcolm reminisced over the evolution of the client base at S&M’s bar, noting the cautious behavior of customers, especially regarding the Omicron variant, and observed a decrease in weekday trade. The bar prides itself on prioritizing the safety of the clientele and staff by ensuring the use of matching IDs with vaccine passes and has noticed a difference in crowd types since the pandemic.

Furthermore, Malcolm recounted the history of their journey in the bar industry, from opening Scotty and Mal’s Cocktail Bar in 2007 to the challenges faced along the way including ownership transitions and financial hurdles. They highlighted the importance of possessing a passion for the hospitality industry and staying true to their belief in the LGBTQ+ community despite the notion of gay bars becoming unnecessary. Their commitment has been to always provide a space for the queer community in Wellington.

The decor of S&M's is described as reminiscent of New York-style bars, with significant efforts invested in remodeling to create an inviting atmosphere. The bar's photo wall pays homage to the rich history and personnel of the establishment, serving as a memorial for past artists and acts to preserve LGBTQ+ heritage.

The operating schedule of S&M's shifted from six days a week to four due to the impacts of COVID-19. The clientele, previously diverse and international, is now predominantly local and more cautious due to the pandemic. The bar enjoyed significant attention from international theatre productions and offered a welcoming environment for both LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies.

Malcolm also reflected on previous ventures, such as Pound Nightclub and the Dome bar, emphasizing the changing nature of nightlife and hospitality, as well as the marked shift in demographics and attitudes within the queer community over the years. Despite these changes, Malcolm maintains a focus on providing opportunities and chances to people, just as chances were afforded to them throughout their career.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.


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Record date:19th January 2022
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Location:Scotty and Mal's Cocktail Bar, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004633).