Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Big House

The Big House
Hollywood Boulevard (1927)

Location: Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

Opened/Closed: Early 1930s

I first saw mention of The Big House in Martin Turnbull's list of historic Hollywood Places:

The Big House – Lesbian meeting place, Hollywood Boulevard. (59/96)

So that was an intriguing start. I found out more in an essay by Jim Kepner called "Gay Los Angeles: The Early Days":

The Big House, a lesbian club serving only fruit juice, opened briefly in Hollywood in the final years of Prohibition, but police ripped it apart, allegedly looking for liquor, because its lesbian owners refused to pay off. All bar owners were expected to pay protection to every policeman in sight. Some of its owners then ran the elegant Lake View on West 7th for a decade, (primarily lesbian, but with a fair percent of gay men and film people) getting competition later from the rougher If Club and Open Door at 7th and Vermont—beer bars where the clientele dressed down and bloody fights occurred at the drop of a hat.

The Big House is also mentioned in passing in Axel Madsen's The Sewing Circle: Sappho's Leading Ladies, but no new information was provided.

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