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Lost Gay Hollywood Deserves a Sculpture
The Story of Lost Hollywood Public Neon Art
Many of West Hollywood's gay institutions were forced out of business during the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting not only the businesses but also their staffs, families and the local gay community. Lost Hollywood will be a multimedia public art sculpture combining sound and neon, immortalizing the iconic bars and institutions that closed. It draws inspiration from two of Carl Hopgood's other neon artworks, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places and My Heart Is Open, currently on display at the Maddox Gallery in West Hollywood.
"I walk past the shuttered bars and restaurants and all I see are chairs and tables stacked up in the window. It has become a place I no longer recognize; it is like a ghost town. It makes me feel so helpless, but I know there is something I can do to memorialize these iconic places. I have started a kickstarter campaign to raise funds to realize this ambitious neon-and-sound public art for our community. The names of the iconic gay places we lost will be created in glowing neon lights seemingly falling from the sky from white neon clouds. Their spirit and memory will live on," Hopgood says.
Lost Hollywood will literally give voice to the LGBTQ+ visitors and residents of West Hollywood who had experiences at the shuttered places. Recorded sound bites of their stories will be amplified from speakers below the installation. These were the places where we came out, made friends, went on dates, celebrated life, and laughed in the face of adversity. Lost Hollywood will be a memorial to the LGBTQ+ community, a clear message about preserving the legacy of these gay institutions and keep their spirit alive for future generations.
The location of the work will be at the legendary Circus of Books in West Hollywood above Circus. The location is opposite the Gold Coast, sadly one of the first gay institutions to close. The work will be on display for six months.
"We are thrilled to combine the iconic history of Circus of Books with Carl Hopgood's inspirational project. COVID hit just as we were opening our Circus Gallery which obviously brought openings and gatherings to a screeching halt. Circus Gallery features rotating projects from local LGBTQ+ artists."
-- Rob Novinger
To support this Kickstarter campaign please click on the link to find out more information and to donate.
Tom Doherty bought it in 1993 with $150,000 charged to credit cards by him and his brother and turned it into an institution in West Hollywood's Boystown. Now, 26 years later, Cafe d'Etoile has closed.
Doherty announced, "We want to thank all of our customers throughout the years.that have stood by us through thick and thin. We could not have done it without you. We also can't leave out our amazing staff that put in so much to keep it going and to make the cafe such an iconic place to visit in West Hollywood. We wish them the best and know that they will do well wherever they go."
Marix was a home base for many and will be missed deeply. Its doors originally closed for safety reasons during the beginning of the global outbreak of coronavirus, and its prolonged closure was due to a separate, unexpected turn of events. It attracted an incredibly diverse crowd including movie stars, circuit boys, hipsters, drag queens; everyone was welcome.
Gold Coast was the third closed Weho gay bar to have had Monte Overstreet as a landlord. Overstreet had reportedly not been flexible with the other proprietors during negotiations as they struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. In his Facebook post, bar owner Worl said of the closing, "We do not have a choice. ... We have fought and tried everything in our power to keep this bar and dealing with pressure from very very selfish and heartless people."
Rage shuttered in September due to financial difficulties related to COVID-19. Except for a brief window, bars in West Hollywood had been closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Owners Robert Maghame and Saeed Sattari opened the gay bar on Santa Monica Boulevard in 1983.
The establishment, known for shirtless cowboys and cowgirls who danced on the bar top and swung from the rafters, opened in January 2015 on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Oil Can Harry's
An American historic landmark that stood the test of time until the pandemic hit. Few bars or restaurants in America can boast lasting 52 years like this iconic institution did. It was a business survivor, a political survivor, an AIDS survivor. Its focus was to be a venue for the LGBTQ+ community, and their allies, to converge and express themselves. A place that is safe, welcoming and accepting to all. A place to dance and loose oneself. Well-known for its cowboy line-dancing with a mix of hip-hop and R&B under a disco ball!
This restaurant was anything but basic. Yummy food and good service make this place a gem. One time we sat next to the actress who played Daya on Orange Is the New Black. It attracted people from all walks of life and was buzzing with laughter, fun, and gossip. The staff always made a point to get to know us and we felt right at home here. We used to sit on the patio and drink bottomless mimosas people-watching.
Micky's was one of the most popular gay bars in West Hollywood's Boystown. It had its 30th anniversary celebration interrupted by an abrupt closing.
The Standard Hotel
Also home to the famous club Giorgio's in its basement. "It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the closure of The Standard, Hollywood, which will shut its doors indefinitely on Friday, January 22nd. Despite 22 years of unconditional love for our hotel, our guests, our team and our community, the hotel was unable to prevent a significant increase to its lease, which makes operating the property impossible."
Photo: The Standard
About the artist Carl Hopgood
Carl Hopgood is a British artist famous for sculpture, film/video installation, and neon. Throughout Hopgood's career, he has appropriated and reimagined pop and underground culture in a variety of different ways. He moved to London from Cardiff, Wales, where he was born and attended Goldsmith College, graduating in 1994 with a BA in fine art. Hopgood is currently based in Los Angeles.
He participated in a famous group exhibition called "False Impressions" at the British School in Rome which included fellow Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans. Hopgood's work is collected by many international collectors, including Eugenio Lopez Alonso and Morgan Freeman, and he has several artworks at the Groucho Club in London in its permanent collection. His work has been shown at galleries in New York, Germany, Italy, London, Los Angeles, and Sydney, Australia. The illusionary nature of Hopgood's work plays with the idea of existence, appearance, and reality through the practical use of projection and neon. He creates a liminal space for the viewer, one that exists in a state of transference from reality to dream and back again.