Sunday, December 4, 2011

Little Frida's Coffee House

Little Frida's Coffee House
Little Frida's Coffee House

Location: 8730 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California, USA

Opened: One article reports September 1995--at least for this location. Keanu Reaves was spotted at Little Frida's in June 1994, but that seems to have been the earlier address at 8545 Santa Monica Boulevard. Little Frida's seems to have opened at the earlier location around 1991 or 1992.

Closed: May 1999?

Little Frida's was a well-known West Hollywood lesbian coffee house from the 1990s.

Here's how CaseNet descried Little Frida's back in the day:

...this delightful place has a selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches. New selected art is featured and displayed every 6 to 8 weeks. Relax in their lounge or sit outside. Very clean and well maintained. Tuesday is music. Wednesday is comedy. Thursday is special workshops or symposiums. Entertainment starts at 8 pm. They also sponsor special events.

And here's a sampling from Little Frida's Calendar of Events. Busy Place! Some noteworthy highlights:

The Women with Balls Comedy Showcase for Women used to take place at Little Frida's.

Melissa Ferrick was here in January 1996--and on later dates as well.

The first All Women's Motorcycle Parking Lot Sale was held at Little Frida's in February 1997.

The solo show "Ballistic Femme" with Marie Carter was staged here in July 1998.

Over the years of her existence, Little Frida's managed to accrue some degree of fame. Celebrities were spotted there, like Keanu Reaves:

Little Frida's, a lesbian coffee shop in West Hollywood, may be one of the few places in America where the androgynous beauty of Keanu Reeves is lost on the local populace. Its sole customer, who's wearing a nose ring and has a large, colorful tattoo crawling up her back, barely offers a bored glance as Reeves glides by, singing along with piped-in U2. Soft-spoken and courteous, Reeves has a china-doll complexion, black beads for eyes, and a worn leather book with handwritten notes on Hamlet poking out of the pocket of his scraggly suede jacket. Sipping his cranberry juice and appearing politely horrified by the femo-phallic artwork on the walls — "Good morning!" he says, astounded, to one graphic painting — Reeves appears more like a slacker poet than the next great action hero.

When Ellen Morgan (Ellen Degeneres) came out on the Ellen show on April 30, 1997, Little Frida's was featured in the episode.

Later in the episode Ellen comes out to her friends, who are so supportive of her they take her to Little Frida’s, a real lesbian coffeehouse in West Hollywood, to listen to a parody of 1970s women’s music sung by k.d. lang. At the conclusion of the episode, Melissa Etheridge gives Susan a toaster oven as her tongue-in-cheek reward for converting another woman to lesbianism.

Watch it here.

Other films where Little Frida's provided some of the scenery include Bar Girls (1995) and Travelling Companions (1999).

In fact, Little Frida's appeared in the media so much, that it veered into over-exposure for some folks. From the Lesbian Flicks blog: 

One thing I want to say is that I am tired of seeing Little Frida’s (coffee bar) in movies and television shows. It always looks different than it is, and I don’t happen to like hanging there. I may be the only one in L.A. though.

Apart from all the media hype, Little Frida's provided the setting for more than one real-life romance. Here's one story from 2006:

We met at Little Frida’s Coffee House 14 years ago when I lived in Los Angeles for a summer… I was “straight”, 17 years old and couldn’t believe lesbians could be so HOT. I fell hard for her but she was dating someone at the time. Rosa, being 23 years old and “out” for almost 10 years, thought I was too “new” and a baby to boot. We became great friends.

When I graduated Smith College, I moved to New York City. She called me and told me she wanted to come visit. It was a different kind of call… borderline phone-sex. It seemed like I was waiting for that call all my life. She got on a plane the next day and we’ve been together ever since.

Here's another romance that got ignited at Little Frida's:
Little Frida's leaflet (1996?)

(Stanley): Essie Scoffield, Stanley, my friends call me. I’m originally from Los Angeles, California and moved to Hawaii five years ago.

(Laura): My name is Laura Belding, I’m originally from Vermont but I’ve lived in Hawaii for ten years and I currently live in Ewa Beach, Hawaii. 1999, Los Angeles, we were at a little coffee house called Little Frida’s in West Hollywood and I was with somebody else but Laura was sitting at a corner table and she was reading a book and I just happened to glance over and she looked up and she smiled at me. Laura’s got a great smile (laughter). So, we just had that instantaneous contact and that was it.

Even as  late as last summer, a blogger named sprouthead was reminiscing about Little Frida's:

I don't know what year Little Frida's closed, but in the late '90s it was one of my havens. I would make the trek from Irvine to West Hollywood just so I could sit in Frida's, have a cup of coffee, and write in my journal in a place where I felt I wasn't alone.

I wonder where the queer youth hang out now?

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