The passing of another gay bar in Silver Lake inspired social media pundits to proclaim our love of watering holes is dead. They blame the very bucket that carries their witty water—the internet—with sites like Adam4Adam, Manhunt and the headless, toned torsos on Grindr. I write this without malice but merely as a statement of fact: Bullshit.
The number of gay saloons in L.A. has always waxed and waned. Slim Gordon’s, Bradley’s, Numbers (both of them), Jade Room, Carriage Trade, The Palms Bar, Probe, Streets of Paris (that one even had gloryholes), MJ’s, The Other Side, The Friendship and a slew of others have all been called ‘down and out’ with a true last call.
Sure, fashion changes, clientele die off and/or get hitched, rents rise, income sputters and homos move. Yet forever and always we will seek shelter to enjoy our cocktails, the caress of camaraderie and our right to pick up future lovers in person.
That is why it is so troubling to watch the slow burn of animosity between Revolver’s two primary owners. Perhaps there really is a curse on the drinkery at 8851 Santa Monica Boulevard. Chris Miller is suing biz partner Alfredo Diaz over missing and allegedly misappropriated loot. Diaz is tossing back the same charges at Miller. It’s a ‘he said, he said’ thing, and it will likely get nasty before it’s adjudicated. Friends fighting in public is unseemly. That this is over money makes it even sadder.
This is the second incarnation of Revolver. The old joint of the ‘80s and ‘90s was a packed local pub of drinks and dick. In its prime, with Madonna or Mommie Dearest screaming on the screens, the bar was a sort of community center offering shelter from many a storm. It was a place we gathered to collectively flip off the haters and drink 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, twinks gulped alcohol and, by closing time, alcoholics gulped twinks.
The site was once a bistro called Taming of the Stew! By 1975, the stew stunk, and a gay bar named Rascals took over. A year later Bill Larkin and Don Belcher turned it into 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, 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 with wine in his belly and a young twink by his side—a twink with a gun.
A sweet guy named Mark Bates, who was a good friend of Charles, took the reins and Revolver continued to spin until his company ran aground on Christina Applegate’s failed restauarant, among other hassles. An old mate of mine, Trip Wilmot, then snagged the place for dirt-cheap and East | West Lounge was born in 2004. That ill-fated plan was to create a bar on snob appeal at a time when there was none. The folly led many a man to become a pessimist for financing an optimist. Cursed?
The old girl has had a lot of facelifts, and even CPR. Now intrigue and shenanigans threaten its life again. It’s a shame to muck it up over bad blood. But even if business is grand, curses are like chickens—they come home to roost.