When people think of Asbury Park, they think of the boardwalk, The Beach Bar, Paradise, Convention Hall, and the gorgeous beaches. On the other side of Asbury Park, Charlie Gurrera was turning Georgies into an Asbury Park tradition, the true “Cheers” of the neighborhood.
Every day of the week, Charlie made sure that the LGBT community of Asbury Park had a place to go, making every day an event. From pool league to drag shows to karaoke, Charlie made sure all factions of the community were represented. You could always count on Charlie to be the first face you’d see at Georgies, with an infectious smile and a big hug.
Charity is at the heart of Georgies as well and much of that is because of Charlie. From the holiday coat drive, to the annual Toys for Tots event, to various Beacon Light events, Charlie and the staff at Georgies could be counted on for going the extra mile for the community.
On August 31st, Georgies welcomed Charlie’s family, friends, and the entire community for a Celebration Of Life, with proceeds going to the Gurrera family. Included in the Celebration was a full roster of talent from drag performers like Christy Gurlington and Morgan LaFaye, to the amazing comedienne, Shawn Pelofsky, who gave a touching tribute to Charlie.
So many attendees had their own personal memories of Charlie but “Uncle” Joe Dello had a special one where he recalled losing a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses and mentioning it to Charlie. Upon his next visit to Georgies, he received a gift from Charlie himself: a new pair of Ray Ban sunglasses! That was Charlie, though: generous to a fault.
The event at Georgies was exactly what Charlie would have wanted: members of his community putting personal and business grievances aside, joining together to pay tribute to one of their own.
Charlie’s passing should turn over a new page for our community, one where we all work together to move the LGBT community of New Jersey forward in a positive way. While working together would not only pay a constant tribute to Charlie, combining our efforts would only strengthen us as a community.
Charlie’s wonderful mother, Connie Campisi-Gurrera, shared with me a very personal thought about her son, stating, “Whenever Charlie would come over, he would light up the room. He was always there for me. He brought me love, joy, and happiness. I’m so proud of him. I miss and love him so much.”