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#305002 - 01/11/18 10:50 PM Gay Old Time: The rise and fall of Laguna Beach’s gay clubs
Golem Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/12/12
Posts: 3664
Loc: Orange County, California, USA
Jodie Tillman and Leonard Ortiz
Orange County Register
January 11, 2018

Quote:
It was bingo night at Main Street Bar & Cabaret, Laguna Beach’s last gay club. Techno music chugged; strobe lights blinked. The game’s caller – a redhead drag queen named Endora – fussed softly over the prizes, like an ikebana master arranging her flowers. But half an hour past the scheduled start time, patrons had yet to arrive. Endora sat at the bar and ordered a cocktail.

In walked Craig Cooley, the bar manager for more than a year. “Where is everybody?” he asked, collapsing on a stool next to Endora. As usual, he seemed out of breath. Little wonder.

Gay bars around the nation have been disappearing, a trend attributed to greater social acceptance of gays, changing economic forces and evolving technology. Laguna Beach, in particular, has had many obituaries written for its once-thriving gay scene. Iconic establishments closed. Skyrocketing real estate prices have kept young gays out of the city and led a number of established gay residents to cash out and move to other cities, such as Palm Springs.

Against such odds, Cooley has made it his mission to revive this tiny dive bar off Coast Highway. He removed the privacy blinds on the windows. Pulled up the carpet coated in decades of spilled drinks. Installed a new sound system. Brought back dancing, karaoke and drag queen bingo nights.

All that hustling to breathe life into Main Street may have been the easy part. Now Cooley has to see whether these improvements will pay off – whether gays still want a place to call their own. Whether a tiny gay bar in Laguna Beach can still thrive.

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Edited by Golem (01/11/18 11:10 PM)

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#305008 - 01/12/18 02:23 AM Re: Gay Old Time: The rise and fall of Laguna Beach’s gay clubs [Re: Golem]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 12889
Loc: Whittier, California
Don't you wonder if it may also be partly due to DECREASING acceptance of gays in conservative Orange County?
I'm straight, so I don't actually KNOW, but I would imagine that, if I WERE gay, I would not live anywhere near OC, certainly not in this day and age.
I'd definitely be up in the Los Angeles area, West Hollywood if I could afford it, but definitely up in good old BLUE L.A. for sure.

I wouldn't feel comfortable anywhere South of Beach Blvd.
(the so called "Orange Curtain")

On the other hand, it IS true that a TON of small and yet well loved gay bars have indeed been closing everywhere.
Last year, the most celebrated gay bar on the West Side of L.A. proper closed. It was a Venice Beach gay bar which had weathered something like maybe three decades, and had seen Venice go from art colony, to a hippie haven, to gang central, to boring suburb, and finally to its current phase as a heavily gentrified and monstrously overpriced yuppie hell hole.

It was The Roosterfish. frown


UPDATE!!!
Apparently The Roosterfish is RE-OPENING, but don't expect the old cheap drinks this time, and good-bye pool table.

Surprise: Venice Gay Bar Legend Roosterfish Will Reopen

So maybe there is hope for gay bars after all, but probably not in Orange County, unless it becomes a little more, how should we say..."PURPLE" and a little less conservative "RED".
_________________________
"The Left ones think I'm Right, the Right ones think I'm wrong."

----Leon Russell - "Magic Mirror"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-H1iQ5Y6Eg

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#305009 - 01/12/18 02:42 AM Re: Gay Old Time: The rise and fall of Laguna Beach’s gay clubs [Re: Jeffery J. Haas]
pdx rick Offline
Member
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 40730
Loc: Puget Sound, WA
Originally Posted By: Jeffery J. Haas
Don't you wonder if it may also be partly due to DECREASING acceptance of gays in conservative Orange County?
I'm straight, so I don't actually KNOW, but I would imagine that, if I WERE gay, I would not live anywhere near OC...

Orange County was always like that. Heck, back in the 80s when I was coming up, we called it 'The Orange Curtain.'

There were lots of gay clubs in Garden Grove (D.O.K. West, Rumorhazzit) in Laguna there was (The Boom Boom Room) - oh good times. smile
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Contrarian, extraordinaire



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#305010 - 01/12/18 03:59 AM Re: Gay Old Time: The rise and fall of Laguna Beach’s gay clubs [Re: pdx rick]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 12889
Loc: Whittier, California
Oh I know...absolutely.
We all used to quip about "Crossing the Orange Curtain", and we'd do impersonations of Wally George, or do George Putnam (hence TED BAXTER) impersonations.
_________________________
"The Left ones think I'm Right, the Right ones think I'm wrong."

----Leon Russell - "Magic Mirror"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-H1iQ5Y6Eg

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#305011 - 01/12/18 06:39 AM Re: Gay Old Time: The rise and fall of Laguna Beach’s gay clubs [Re: Golem]
pondering_it_all Offline
veteran

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 7265
Loc: North San Diego County
I think there are plenty of gay people in Orange County. But they are not young hip club kids or marching in leather chaps or drag in a Pride Parade. They are older well-established home-owner couples. And those are the nicest homes in the neighborhood, too. Haven't you heard? Gay couples are highly desirable neighbors because they increase property values and usually don't have any kids. All the "gayness" takes place behind closed doors and that is fine with conservative Orange County, except maybe for the few religious nuts. But those religious nuts are not all that popular with the mainstream conservatives, either.

It's all about financial conservatism in Orange County. Even the mega-churches are more "Prosperity Churches" than Christian.

Where I grew up in San Diego in an upscale suburb, our next door neighbors were a gay FBI agent and his boyfriend. Nicest landscaping on the block!

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#305044 - 01/13/18 03:01 AM Re: Gay Old Time: The rise and fall of Laguna Beach’s gay clubs [Re: Golem]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 12889
Loc: Whittier, California
You grew up next to J.Edgar Hoover???
_________________________
"The Left ones think I'm Right, the Right ones think I'm wrong."

----Leon Russell - "Magic Mirror"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-H1iQ5Y6Eg

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#305052 - 01/13/18 08:10 AM Re: Gay Old Time: The rise and fall of Laguna Beach’s gay clubs [Re: Golem]
pondering_it_all Offline
veteran

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 7265
Loc: North San Diego County
Edgar actually had a lot of men's men, as he would have called them, in his FBI. That was in 1965. Everybody knew these guys were gay. Nobody in the neighborhood ever had any problem with it.

But on the other hand they didn't have a big "We're Fabulous" banner on their garage door.

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