Laguna Beach’s Historic Boom Boom Room Has its Last Dance


Despite efforts by Fred Karger and his activist crew to save Laguna Beach’s Boom Boom Room nightclub that included pleas to actors Brad Pitt and George Clooney and a well-publicized calendar fundraising event, it was the end of an era as the hub of the Southern California coastal town’s gay nightlife closed its doors at 2 am this morning.

One last toast at the Boom Boom Room [orange county register]
Boom Boom Room in Laguna Beach Shuts Down [fox coverage – video]
Laguna Beach’s Iconic Gay Bar Closes Its Doors [cbs2 – video]

Save the Boom [official site]


  1. Jm says

    i am so surprised to hear about the Boom Boom Room. When I lived In Cal, I used to go there all the time, and now that I have been here in Las Vegas I was still going there when I went to Cal. The last time I was there was in May and I didn’t even new about it shutting down Or I would have gone this Labor day weekend. I am going to miss the old hang out for me I do have alot of memories there and alot of fun and the people there where great. I hope they will fine another area. It was a great place for me when I came out, and you will surly be missed.

  2. CrashLandon says

    I was there yesterday, the last day it was open. Laguna was sweltering, and the bar itself was pretty depressing. NBC News was there, interviewing people…and strangely enough there were 4 kids, aged about 8-12, playing pool and eating hamburgers right there in the bar. The crowning moment came when a hetero couple came in with their toddler and a stroller with an infant. I knew then that we WERE in Kansas anymore. Well, it was fun while it lasted. Adios, Boom!

  3. DC8 Stretch says

    The Boom. I was a shirtless 17-year-old leaning against my Camaro convertible parked on Mountain Street, ‘freeballing’ in my OP shorts, though we didn’t use that term then. It wasn’t long before someone snuck me inside. It was 1978. There were no bouncers. No cover. No cares. I bought my first rum and Coke with my last $2.00 at the downstairs bar from Jimmy-dark brown hair parted in the middle- a stone fox. Next to me was a 20 year-old with green eyes and the most amazing ass: Duff Paddock. He introduced me to a cute curly headed blonde who was actually legal: Donnie McPhedran. France Jolie was playing, the tiny dancefloor jammed. Lorna was in full drag perched in recline on top of a speaker, doing amyl- ‘poppers’ because back in the day thats what they did. Steve Henderson, Joey Coons and Harold Randall- the Lindsay, Paris and Britney of the day- talked of Mykonos and Nuryev and invited us to a party where everyone was a ’10’. But the ’10’s’ were all at the Boom: Donnie Diaz, Scott Nelson, Grady Wiley, Dean Frey. It was an easy bar to cruise- you’d loop through the old cafe with its wooden booths- the fat Carson brothers always had one of their straight ‘model’s with them, who you’d seen in After Dark or Blueboy. In the upper bar you’d pass R.D. Cravens and Bucky Parker, who would turn and dish you as you walked past, or Lance Kramer who’d “Whewooo” call would echo behind you. The LA crowd that all stayed at Bob Major’s house above West Street always made it to the Boom: Roger LeClaire, Ralph Annunziato, Len Wrona, Michael Rotella. In the pool room there’d always be a few Marines up from Pendleton looking to score. You could sneak into a room and trick or do some of Terry or Paul’s cocaine. Martha Raye supposedly placed her false teeth on the bar after smocking Angel Dust. Someone had just fucked the new guy from Dynasty upstairs, or was going to a party where the new guy on Cover Up was getting gang-banged on the kitchen table. Lady Sarah Churchill swanned in with her pearls. Brad Caine and a couple of lovers from Maine came in bare-assed after a skinny dip and conga’d through the bar and right out to a ‘surfer’ van where they proceeded to fuck in full view of the downstairs bar. There are a lot of ghosts in the old haunt and they will not go easy just because someone closed it down.

  4. Joshua says

    I have seen the Boom Boom room from the street, never been in.
    My Uncle who is gay and in his 60’s told me that one night he and a bunch of friends from Long Beach had made their monthly pilgramige to San Diego and as always, stopped at the Boom on their way down. They walked in and Bette Davis was screaming at her then husband Gary Merrill, both way too drunk, and trying to get him to leave and he wasn’t going to. She called him a fucking, lousy cocksucker and a chorus of 15 guys suddenly yelled back at her….***you got that right sister*** and she fell over from laughter.
    He said, that was the kind of thing that made the place special and all of the just fantastic array of people from everywhere.

    Sometimes I wish I had been born sooner, it seems being 25 that I missed the really fun days of being gay.

  5. says

    I guess I could feel bad about the Boom closing (I had one of my best birthdays there — okay, most upstairs in one of the rooms at the Coast Inn — with my then significant other) but they had a great run there.

    Laguna has changed. Along with the world. Each generation remakes the nightlife world the way that suits them, and that’s fine with me because I don’t do that anymore.

    Somewhere in Echo Park (or Bushwick in Brooklyn, or somewhere in North London, or in some neighborhood in Sydney) there’s a club or bar opening this weekend for the first time so that the firstnighters can reminisce about that when they’re our age.

    The effort to keep the Boom open had every good intention, but if the gay community is looking for institutions to carry on a sense of our history, the world of nightlife establishments probably isn’t the best place to look. It my experience that for the most part they come and go with the wind.

    The Boom had a good long run.

    How’s this for an idea — a foundation that would buy the Stonewall Inn, restore it like it’s still June 1969 and preserve it as a memorial?

    I could get behind something like that.

  6. says

    GRADY WILEY! I just did a Google search on him and this is the only link that came up. Someone who left that many broken hearts, left that much chaos in his wake should have a memorial page all to himself.

    So handsome, it hurt just to look at him. So charming you had to turn you face before he asked you for your house and you gladly signed it over to him.

    Grady Wiley was the best party drug EVER.

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