Terry George's rise from Bramley council estate to entrepreneur and owner of Viaduct Showbar and Bar Fibre
When it comes to the Leeds nightlife scene, there are few names more familiar than Terry George.
He made a name for himself as a DJ in the 1980s before establishing the hugely successful Confetti’s Gay Night, which saw appearances from stars like Take That, M People and Boy George.
Terry then met his partner Michael Rothwell and the entrepreneurial duo established several businesses, including purchasing the Mr Gay UK title which they then took across the country.
After several television appearances on shows like The Secret Millionaire, Terry ventured back into the hospitality world, purchasing Bar Fibre on Lower Briggate.
However, success hasn’t come easily to Terry, who left school without a career plan in mind, but wanting to help his family pay the bills.
Born on the Wyther Park council estate in Bramley, he was the youngest of four boys and older brother to one sister.
Terry said: “We lived in a council house in poor circumstances, to the point that at one stage we lived without electricity or gas for three years.
“It was very grim and miserable at that time.
“I went to Benjamin Gott High School in Armley but left around 16 after getting myself a job as a glass collector at the Barcelona club and another one at a pickle factory.
“When I was 17 I started my first DJing job at the Gemini club, under the ABC Cinema.”
Through this period, Terry had picked up a passion for interviewing celebrities, and he became known for confidently approaching celebrities at the Hilton Hotel or in the reception of Yorkshire Television with his trusty microphone and cassette recorder in hand.
Over the years, he managed to secure interviews with people from all walks of life, including pop megastar Michael Jackson, with whom his relationship would later form part of a Louis Theroux documentary.
After making a name for himself DJing at Gemini and other bars like Scrumpies and Top Cats, Terry went on to do two seasons in Benidorm, which he describes as one of the best times of his life because it was “great fun”.
He came back from Spain in 1986, getting a job at Confetti's in the Merrion Centre. Soon he was asked to help set up a gay clubnight every first Tuesday of the month.
It was a huge success, averaging 1,200 people a night, with coaches coming from across the UK.
“There are couples I know today that first met at those Confetti nights”, Terry said.
Off the back of the club night's success, Terry launched All Points North magazine and also purchased the Mr Gay UK title, hosting shows across the country, with the 1998 Grand Final broadcast live on Channel 5 by Graham Norton.
Terry also began working as a consultant premium-rate telephone service company, but soon decided to set up his own line.
There were struggles at first, but Terry and Michael eventually found a niche in the market and it was a huge success.
They then purchased Bar Fibre, which proved so popular that within three years the bar expanded to the second floor.
By that point, the tenants in a space over the road in old railway tunnels had moved out, and the pair took a chance and purchased what would become Mission nightclub.
Terry said: “We didn't have a clue at all about how to run a bar.
“It was all a brand new learning curve but it was fun.
“I was interacting with people again, being the host of the place, taking pictures with people.
“The same people were coming in week after week and it became like a family.
“When the chance came to buy Mission, we weren’t sure but didn’t want to miss the opportunity.
“Fibre was doing phenomenally, the more space we put in the more people came.
“Running Mission was a totally different animal and we didn’t get it right from the beginning, we were constantly learning, but it was successful because we had really great managers.”
It wasn't long before a third opportunity presented itself and they went into partnership with the landlord of the Leeds United supporter pub next door.
However, soon the landlord wanted to leave and the couple took over and it slowly began to morph into the popular club we know today - the Viaduct Showbar.
Terry said: “We started introducing drag shows on a weekend, which cleared out a lot of the Leeds supporters but the venue itself got busier and busier.
“Now, every weekend the showbar is packed and it is better than it ever was.”
Today, the couple remain the proud owner of the bars, although Mission sadly had to close due to the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.
They are now also landlords to residential and commercial properties across the city, as well as being the owners of the Briggate Boutique hotel.
Terry said: “Over the years, we've always gone right to the edge with businesses and we are lucky that we have been successful, but that luck has come with a lot of hard work.
“I find that my life has been blessed with nice moments and nice people and I think the reason for that is if you give out good, you get good.
“I have always tried to be like that in life. I've always tried to be positive to people and to help people where I can.”