Out and About with Dana Miller

Bars or Guns—It’s All A Revolver
Dana Miller

"Revolver Is Back … Bitches!" That’s the e-mail I received from new owners Alfredo Diaz and Chris Miller. Everything old is new again, including the revolving door and a fair price point on booze that if tossed back in moderation, isn’t vomit-inducing. Plus the VJ and 20 video screens have returned and the vibe and view is a sleek swish. Very NYC.

There is something pleasingly mellow about the joint. It has regained its soul. The old Revolver of the ‘80s and ‘90s was a packed local pub of drinks and dick. In its prime with Madonna or Mommy Dearest screaming on the screens, Revolver was a sort of community center offering shelter from many a storm. Cocktails were gently mixed with love and loneliness and common bonds and battles. It was a place we gathered to collectively flip off the haters and drank swill to face the ill.

At Larrabee and Santa Monica stoic bankers became nelly, sons met their daddies, tricks were traded and many a mini-revolution was hatched. On any festive Friday back at the old Revolver, cute minors gulped alcohol and by closing time alcoholics gulped cute minors. And lord it was fun. Through that spinning door was time dearly devoted to the pursuit of the triumph to be happy. No small order of the day.

The site was once a bistro called Taming of the Stew! Can you imagine!? By 1975 the stew stunk and a gay bar named Rascals was born. In 1976 Bill Larkin and Don Belcher created the Blue Parrot and after a strong six-year run, an interesting chap named Charles Pollyea entered the picture, created Revolver and a Cheers for homos was born. Charles was a comrade of mine and certainly an odd duck who, while loving his money so, enjoyed young boys and old wine. My crony was shot to death in his own car in a fairly seedy neighborhood with old wine in his belly and a young twink with a gun at his side. I have certainly seen too much, and understand too little.

A sweet guy named Mark Bates, who was a good friend of Charles, took the reins and Revolver continued to spin to the tune of $125,000 a month in cash. But Mark sunk big bucks into a failed restaurant with Christina Applegate where Fiesta Cantina now sits, settled a couple of unseemly lawsuits and his company matters ended in absolute chaos. An old mate of mine, Trip Wilmot snagged the place dirt cheap and East/West Lounge was born. That ill-fated plan was to create a bar on snob appeal at a time there was none. The folly led many a man to become a pessimist for financing an optimist.

So today, right now, you see everything old is new again. The new Revolver rises where in gay history struggle, pain, death, freedom, joy, fun, frolic, bad stew and karma of some suspect have all lived. To Alfredo and Chris, I wish you blessings and the very best. The joint is more than a bar and you now control the next chapter.

A wonderful writer by the name of Kergan Edwards-Stout has delivered a simply stunning work of fiction, Songs for the New Depression. I met Kergan years ago when he ran the Sex Essentials program for APLA. It was there he met his partner Shane Sawick who was running the AIDS Hotline. Shane passed in 1995 and Songs was “loosely inspired” by him. This tale of love and life constantly brought me to both laughter and tears.

To those of us who loved and lost this is an important read to assist your reconciliation. It has mine. To those who have heard the stories, this love letter should be required reading. The characters are nicely carved and as they come to terms with moral decisions, to me it was ultimately about getting through one’s life awake and alive. Congratulations, Kergan, and thank you.

Another gentle tome to keep you warm through the holidaze is David Mixner’s new must-read, At Home with Myself: Stories from the Hills of Turkey Hollow. David is one of our community’s true heroes who dedicated his life to making a difference for you and me. This terrific read is a momentary pause along his way to take personal inventory of where he has been and where he is headed. And lord, David has been close to mind-bending events and people all throughout his years.

Do yourself a favor and hit Book Soup or go online and grab both of these books. Everyone has talent; it’s what one does with it. When it comes to writing, these two gents have it in spades, and you and I just benefit from their words.

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  1. Name (required) posted on 11/29/2011 09:30 AM
  2. NeilanT posted on 11/29/2011 09:50 AM
    What an EXCELLENT review. I couldn't agree more so made it an absolute point to ZOOM down there the minute they were open so that I could personally congratulate the new owners and introduce myself in the process. They couldn't have been more gracious and that "old festive, friendly vibe" I SO enjoyed at Revolved back in the day was VERY present in the new and absolutely terrific revamped setting.

    In short? I loved it.

    But as for your review? The information and perspective YOU shared is just astonishing! I thought I knew a thing or two about the place, but... Ummm... Nope. Even though I first moved to LA (at 19) in 1978 so knew it first as The Blue Parrot. So I thought I had a good grasp on the history. Not by a LONG shot.

    I only (relatively) recently returned to SoCal after a dozen years back East (NY) and down South (NOLA) and was KNOCKED OUT by the above. I'm now compelled to go back and try to track down as many other similar reviews or articles of yours.

    YOU, sir, are one of our communities better (and thus most valuable) historians and commentators and THAT kind of insight and personal perspective combined with real knowledge is of HUGE importance. I hope to learn more about you and that you have, indeed, put vast amounts of other such critical information into one or more books or in some other lasting fashion.

    KUDOS. See you at Revolver.

    Hollywood, CA
    1. dana miller posted on 11/30/2011 05:52 PM
      @NeilanT Wow Neilan: Thank You! That was so damn sweet. I have indeed been around a bit. I started writing about our hamlet almost eight years ago...Lot's of tales! That you so for reading my stuff, but especially thank you so much for writing!


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