Frontiers takes a look at the recent reincarnation of popular West Hollywood watering hole Revolver, a venue that gained popularity in the ‘80s and ‘90s as ‘the people’s bar.’ We chat with Alfredo Diaz and Chris Miller, the rebooted bar’s new owners, and even indulge some regulars from the bar’s original heyday.
What was your earliest memory of the first incarnation of Revolver?
AD: I was taken to the first Revolver in 1998 for karaoke and loved it. From then on, the Revolver was how I started my evenings on those I went out in West Hollywood.
CM: It was the late ‘80s and I had gotten a fake ID at the Colton Auction. I drove into L.A. with my friend Mark and we went to Revolver. We watched videos all night and drank Diet Coke because we were too scared to order a real drink and get busted with our bogus IDs.
What exactly was it that enticed you to bring back Revolver in its original location?
CM: That corner in West Hollywood has always been such an iconic location. It basically looks the same now as it did when it was built in the ‘20s, and it has such a rich history in the LGBT community. When Alfredo and I talked about what our new bar should be like, we kept referencing the old Revolver, and we both sort of said, “Wait a minute, why not bring it back—literally?”
How was the original Revolver different from other bars, and how is Revolver 2.0 different?
AD: The first Revolver was non-pretentious, good fun. Everyone will tell you that it was a great place to meet your future boyfriend—in part because so often people felt comfortable going to Revolver alone, enjoying a cheap drink and unwinding with hilarious videos, making them an easy target for a potential suitor. We feel the same still holds true with the second generation Revolver.
While the new Revolver’s interior is ‘fancier’ than the first version, Chris and I made sure the bar didn’t just look great but was staffed with experienced—and most importantly, friendly—staff. It’s a great juxtaposition that we hope translates to our guests—a beautiful bar without pretense that is fun, cheap and cheerful yet familiar.
How have things been going since officially opening?
AD: It has been absolutely wonderful to have a project you’ve been passionate about be so well-received by the very people you built it for. We have watched our first guests become regulars, those visiting town rave about Revolver to friends back home, Eastsiders find a home away from home and a whole lot of the first Revolver guests tell us they now have a reason to go out in West Hollywood again. We feel truly fortunate as a gay-owned-and-operated business to feel so welcomed in the community. Our goal is to create a gay bar that is the way a gay bar ought to be—fun, a little camp and a whole lot of tongue-in-cheek fabulous. We know that once our themed nights start we’ll change the nightlife scene for the better.
CM: The response has been amazing. People keep thanking us for bringing it back. They tell us stories of the old
Revolver, friends and lovers they met there, birthdays, anniversaries and gay Prides they spent there. People say all the time, “I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this, but...” and I just smile and soak it all in.
“For me, back in the late ’90s to early ’00s, Revolver wasn’t a first-stop bar as much as it was a destination. It had a neighborhood charm that brought me back each time—and because I dated (for a little while) one of the bouncers. I loved the cheesy yet fun videos that were worth subtly interrupting conversations for a good laugh. And patrons were pretty friendly, all with their guard down, sharing in those funny moments. I remember making it a tradition to also be there with friends and pitchers of beer to watch finales of Survivor seasons. And that once the doorman I had dated moved away, I briefly dated another doorman there. Heh.” —David Garry
“I really liked Revolver back in the ‘90s and am glad it has reopened. When I went [to the new Revolver] opening weekend, my first thought was, ‘My God, it’s a total flashback to 1997.’ It is the exact same bar and the exact same crowd, only we are all 14 years older.” —Dan Wentzel
“After literally years of trying to come out, by spring of 1997 my best gal-pal (named Mary!) gave me a makeover and dragged me to Revolver to try and get me laid. Three steps in the door, I was hit on by the hottest—and nicest—man I’ve ever encountered, who politely asked me for my number and then left. Four steps through the door, another handsome guy hit me up who was just as nice, and two others were eyeing me the whole time. Mary said, ‘Darlin’, yer beatin’ ‘em off with a stick tonight!’ I can never go in or around that building again without thinking about that wonderful night!” —Scott Claus
“Spring break of my Senior year, I came to L.A. to test it out. My first gay bar in L.A. was Revolver—we walked in, a drag queen was on the bar lip-synching to “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’“ and I thought, ‘My god, I’m home.’” —John Harper
“The first gay bar I entered was Revolver. A college classmate from Occidental took me and another friend. I was only 20 at the time—and he was younger—but we managed to find fake IDs. I am quite sure I didn’t look like the guy in the fake ID, but they let us in. I don’t remember speaking to anyone the entire evening except for my friends. I was so shy and had only been out of the closet for a year. And I am quite sure that I was dressed inappropriately—I had no style sense. I zeroed in on one of the most handsome men I had ever seen. He was brunette and was wearing a muscle shirt. Heaven! I could not take my eyes off him, but I was too shy to approach. It didn’t matter. It was my first gay bar and my first taste of freedom—and men.” —Keith Malone
Behind the Scenes of Revolver 2.0
— 25 custom LED screens located throughout the bar
— A liquor display that holds roughly $13,000 worth of booze
— 2,450 pounds of Caesarstone countertops
— 75 gallons of paint
— 1,150 square feet of custom mirrors
— Over seven miles of speaker and video wiring
— A video library that houses over 100,000 videos with over 1,200 being original Revolver content
Have your own Revolver story? Share it with us and the world at FrontiersLA.com. Photos by David Khinda, davidkhinda.com