Bear Boulevard? Growing Businesses on Basilio Badillo Cater to Bears and their Admirers

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Over the past year, Puerto Vallarta has seen an increase in the number of bars and businesses that cater to the Bear and leather community. Most of those businesses are located on Basilio Badillo (or close), making it the new go-to spot for Bears and their admirers. We focus on those new businesses, and the services they are offering to the Bear and LGBTQ+ community. 

The first “new kid on the block” opened in May, 2022, and started the new trend of growing businesses to the bear community. That is STUDS Bear and Leather Bar.

Studs bear bar staff

STUDS Bear and Leather Bar

STUDS Bear and Leather Bar, where leather meets fur, became the very first club that was expressly opened to serve the Bear and Leather communities. STUDS, as it is popularly known, has enjoyed amazing growth ever since arriving onto the local scene. 

The bar is owned by Mike Owens, who originally hails from North Carolina, but lived extensively throughout the US. Mike discovered Puerto Vallarta in January of 2018. He planned on vacationing in Vallarta for five days, and loved it so much he spent two weeks.

As I spoke with Mike, and his manager and business associate, Agustin Ibanez, on a Saturday morning in early December of 2023, he shared a sentiment very familiar to many of us in the expat community.

Mike Owens, a local business owner, is now serving as a volunteer operations director for SETAC. He is pictured here with his dog, Riley.
Mike Owens and his dog Riley.

 “I’ve never been anywhere in the US, or the world, that I ever felt as comfortable and as much at home as I do in Puerto Vallarta,” Mike stated. 

He continued, “My plan was to move here when I retired, but when Covid-19 hit I was able to come down and work remotely.” 

He concluded, “When the pandemic ended and I was called back to the office, I said “no thank you”, and then retired.”

He immediately started making plans to move to Puerto Vallarta, and decided he was never going to leave. It had always been his dream to open a bar, so after getting settled into his new hometown, he opened two; Therapy and STUDS, in May of 2022. 

Both operated simultaneously from May of that year until December, when as Mike said, “the market made the decision for me to close Therapy, and expand STUDS.” 

As the conversation continued, we switched gears to something near and dear to Agustin, The Gear Shop at STUDS.

One of Agustin’s many involvements is managing this aspect of the business, which carries an amazing selection of; clothing, toys, leather gear, and adult items. 

Mike, with Agustin’s immense help, attempts to make items affordable to the local Mexican population, as well as the tourists and foreign residents living here. As an example of the reasonable pricing, a tank top runs from 299 pesos to 350 pesos. 

Agustin pointed out that all of STUD’s merchandise is made here in Mexico. Mike shared that their goal is to provide an outlet for every budget to be able to afford STUDS merchandise. 

He then informed me with a smile that STUDS has sold more merchandise in the last two months than since they opened in 2022. 

One of the things the Bear community is known for is their inclusion, and STUDS is certainly representative of that inclusivity. 

A potential customer asked Mike if he had to wear a jockstrap, or leather gear. Mike’s emphatic answer was, “absolutely not,” then adding, “STUDS is a place for everyone to feel invited and welcomed,” continuing he stated, “you can wear anything from street clothes to your favorite jockstrap, or harness.” 

Every night is special at STUDS, and they have an array of different events happening each night. Monday is Amateur DJ Night, Tuesday is Stripped Down Bingo Night, Wednesday is Movie Night, Thursday is Fetish Night, Friday is Jockstrap Night, Saturday is Neon Party Night, and Sunday is Daddies Night.   

As the conversation concluded, we moved to Mike’s thoughts on the growth of the Bear community at large in Puerto Vallarta, and STUDS role in contributing to it. 

BeefDip started it all 20 years ago, but in the last 3-5 years the Bear Community has expanded exponentially with the advent of Bearadise, Brawny Bear and Bear Week every year at the end of January. 

The population is now much broader and bigger than ever before. Puerto Vallarta is becoming more internationally known as a Bear destination of choice. With that in mind, STUDS has created an environment that offers an international experience, while maintaining budget friendly cover charges and pricing.  

Looking back over the last nearly three years, Mike was reflective, and left me with this thought. 

“STUDS met a unique need and niche for the Bear and Leather communities. It gave them a space to express themselves and feel safe and valued in that expression. We appreciate all our customers that have contributed to the success of STUDS.”     

STUDS Bear and Leather Bar (Where Leather Meets Fur)
Basilio Badillo 283, Zona Romantica, Puerto Vallarta 48380
Telephone 52 322 106 0283

Beefcakes Bar

Beefcakes Bar

A new bar, where fun and freedom take center stage, has recently opened in Puerto Vallarta. The new bar’s sole mission is to ensure their patrons have a unique and unforgettable experience, all under one roof. We have a much more extensive story on Beefcakes Bar that we will post soon.

Insurgentes 330-B, Zona Romantica, Puerto Vallarta 48380 

Toñito Castañeda and Ron Thomas have opened the bar, Diablitos Cantina, on Oct. 23, 2023. It’s located just down the street from Studs Bear and Leather Bar and right next door to MistrBear.
Toñito Castañeda and Ron Thomas have opened the bar, Diablitos Cantina, on Oct. 23, 2023. It’s located just down the street from Studs Bear and Leather Bar and right next door to MistrBear. Photo by Oscar Almeida

Diablitos Cantina

There is a new bar on Basilio Badillo named Diablitos Cantina, and it feels like home the minute you enter. 

Located in a former laundry, a warm vibe speaks to the coziness of the physical space, but also to the friendly nature of the owners, who make everyone feel so very welcome.

Opening on October 23, 2023 Diablitos is the creation of Business Partners Antonio (Tonito) Castaneda, and Ron Thomas. 

Tonito originally hails from Tampico, in the state of Tamaulipas, but moved to Vallarta in 2012, while Ron was born in Alabama and raised in Michigan, later living in the Carolinas and Philadelphia before moving to Vallarta in 2006. 

Both have extensive restaurant and bar experience, Ron also being the co-owner of The Sea Monkey, and Tonito having worked as a cook and later as a bartender. He shared with me that he prefers bartending. 

Collectively they planned on opening a bar with the Bear community specifically in mind, but along the way decided to make it a great space for everyone, where all are embraced and celebrated. 

diablos

Approximately 80-90 percent of their current clientele are Bears or Daddies, but the overarching concept is to have a cantina where anyone can stop by to relax and get to know each other.

Entering through a bright red door, you are greeted by a small space in the front, with a beautiful wood beam ceiling and little wooden table, and chairs. This area quickly gives way to a small L shaped bar, with stools surrounding. It is constructed of rustic red brick and concrete and sits under a low ceiling, providing that safe, I never want to leave feeling.

Above the bar hang several antique Mexican Puta dolls gazing down with wide open, soulful eyes. 

The giant conversation killer, known as a TV, is thankfully missing, and music is set to a level totally conducive to enjoying a conversation without having to raise your voice, a small detail that makes a big difference. 

By the way, the playlist is awesome as well, running the gamut from Radiohead to Poison and the soulful lyrics of “every rose has its thorn.” 

Ron has his art displayed throughout the bar area, and made all of it, including the coasters, with his laser cutter and printer. Bright colors of turquoise, red, and yellow give the bar area a happy, Mexican feel.  

In the corner, near the bar is a Victorian shelf, painted a brilliant red, it recalls a Mexican altar, briefly channeling the divine. 

Beyond the barroom is a laid back and comfortable family room, outfitted with a small wooden table and chairs, akin to the one at the entrance, a large full length mirror, and comfy low slung sofas. 

The grand attraction is an incredible mural by the renowned Vallarta artist Tamale Ringwald, and owner of the ever popular Tamale’s Tours. Hung on a wall next to the mural is a large display of neon signs, shining brightly and encouraging patrons to; smile, laugh, talk, drink, dance, and finally, for comic relief, eat ass. 

Jamie, who was my seatmate at the bar, smilingly described the wonderful, kitschy feel present throughout as “an Andy Warhol vibe, nothing really goes together, yet everything goes together.” 

Soon to be christened is the intimate patio located just beyond a small area replete with wooden tables. Nearby, a tile sign announces Alano Club, an organization which helps problem drinkers. Ironically, it was formerly located in this very location, along with a laundry that occupied the front half of the building. 

As the evening drew to a close, Ron was engaged in a lively conversation with some regulars, and soon to be regulars. 

I struck up a conversation with Tonito, asking him, what is their vision for Diablitos as we move rapidly towards a new year. 

He smiled, and stated “every three days we find something new to do, the vision at opening is completely different than it is right now on the last night of November,” he continued “the bar is becoming more colorful, more Mexican, we want people to feel not just that they are in a bar, but that they are in their second home.”

As I departed, I looked back at the little cantina with the bright red door, and thought, anyone searching for a friendly bar that feels like home, need look no further than a new gem called Diablitos Cantina.

Diablitos Cantina
Basilio Badillo 329, Zona Romantica, Puerto Vallarta 48380

Now located at 321 Basilio Badillo, Puerto Vallarta, MistrBear and Company reopens on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 5 p.m.
Located at 321 Basilio Badillo, Puerto Vallarta, MistrBear and Company reopened on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. Photo by Oscar Almeida.

MistRBear

MistRBear burst onto the local scene in the spring of 2023 and has become a go to for its diverse clientele ever since. 

The shop is co-owned by business partners Chris Boudreau and Jonathan Grandolfo, both hailing from Montreal, Canada. 

The boutique is located on Basilio Badillo, and is set in a bright, open and welcoming space. White walls provide an airy feel throughout. 

The loyal following not only include those in the Bear and Puppy play communities, but other members of the LGBTQ family as well. 

MistRBear is well known for celebrating all body types, and sizes run from XS to 4XL. 

Chris describes MistRBear, “As the only true fetish shop here in Vallarta.“ He continued, mentioning “you can see every aspect of the rainbow here in our shop.” 

Harnesses hang proudly, and they run the gamut from high quality leather, elastic, and ultra modern neoprene. There is a full line of fashion wear, and a wide selection of fetish  and pet play gear currently on hand. 

Chris shared that an array of new leather vests, underwear, swimsuits, and many surprises will be in the shop for Bear Week. 

Turning to the overall Bear community, of which Chris is well versed, he spoke to the expanding scene. 

Chris shared, “Vallarta is the house of Bears, they come to PV to hibernate for the winter, to eat a twink or two, and have fun.” 

Speaking to the inclusive nature of the community, Chris continued,” the Bear community welcomes everyone, we are really protective of our Trans brothers and sisters, and all the friends of Dorothy who populate our rainbow.” 

The 20th anniversary of the first BeefDip will be in January of 2024 he noted, sharing that for the Bear events that  took place in 2023, an estimated 45,000 Bear and Bear lovers were present in Puerto Vallarta. 

Continuing, he intoned, “there are more Bears living in Puerto Vallarta now, so more Bear oriented activities have followed, it is organic, the Bear community is a big chunk of the LGBTQ population here.” 

He concluded by saying, “because there are more Bears, there are more demands for Bear venues, and hence the opening of spaces that support the Bear community.” 

MistRBear
Basilio Badillo 321, Zona Romantica, Puerto Vallarta 48380 

SIR and SON
SIR Richard Romano owner/ designer of SIR & SON. Photo by Oscar Almeida.

SIR & SON 

SIR & SON opened in the Summer of 2023 and specializes in leisure wear uniquely tailored to the Puerto Vallarta scene. 

SIR Richard Romano is the owner and designer of SIR & SON. He originally hails from New York, and was an Interior Designer with projects all over the world, before deciding the next exciting chapter of his life would be fashion. He relocated to San Diego, California and opened the original location of SIR & SON. 

Richard vacationed in Puerto Vallarta for many years, always dreaming of moving here. Early in 2023, he decided to make the move he had long dreamed of. 

The shop carries small sizes to 3X, with most of the jockstraps going up to 3X. A wide selection of SIR & SON’s own private label of; clothing, grooming products, home accents, and artwork, were on hand, as well as a very cool Black Christmas Tree. 

Code 22 provides international options to choose from, while jockstraps and cutting edge fetish wear are manufactured by LOCKER GEAR

Every month, new collections are arriving, new swimwear is coming in the spring, and SIR & SON is proud to begin partnering with St33le Shorts. Teamm 8 is currently in store, and more is on the way. 

Then changing gears, SIR Richard generously shared his thoughts on the encompassing nature of the different communities he serves. 

“Bear is a much broader spectrum than physical appearance, just like SIR has more value to it than the name SIR, a SIR can be dominating, aggressive, or fatherly. A SIR embraces the essence of giving the needs to another person, and a SON is someone who receives the embrace of a SIR.” 

SIR and SON

He continued, “The two terms are much more encompassing than just someone’s sexual nature, and that is how I feel about the term Bear, it’s a much bigger umbrella than some people think.” 

Concluding, he stated “There is a whole genre of identification, which can be coupled with the term Bear, so I cater to a wide range of Bears; Leather Bears, Muscle Bears, Biker Bears, and Cubs. 

As we finished our conversation I asked SIR Richard if he had any thoughts going into the new year, he smiled and replied, “May 2024 be Gayer than 2023.” 

SIR & SON
Constitucion 347, Zona Romantinca , Puerto Vallarta 48380

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