Efforts to save the cornerstone of Laguna Beach's gay nightlife, the historic Boom Boom Room and Coast Inn hotel, have officially gone Hollywood.
Activist Fred Karger, who has spearheaded the efforts to keep the property preserved for the coastal town's gay community, has taken out an ad in Daily Variety with Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Gentry.
The ad appeals to Brad Pitt and George Clooney, once thought to be interested in buying the property, to help save it.
Said the ad: "Now we are appealing to both of you to buy our 60-year-old landmark before it is converted into a boutique hotel...Both of you are true leaders in human and civil rights. Over 100 years of gay history that the Boom represents is a stake in Laguna Beach."
According to CBS, "The Boom Boom Room is reportedly the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States, and keeping it would be preserving the history of the community, Karger said. Once the haunt of celebrities such as Rock Hudson and Paul Lynde, the Boom Boom Room was slated to close as early as last fall, but activists have fought against it...The origins of the Boom Boom Room date to the late 1920s, when Carolyn Burris, granddaughter of the owner of the Coast Inn, persuaded John "Pappy" Smith to open a tropical-themed bar called the Seven Seas. The Seven Seas became frequented by families and the military. The name Boom Boom Room, according to Burris, came from sailors and Marines who used the term as slang for sex. The Smith family sold the bar to Sidney Bryant in the mid-1970s, and it quickly became a gathering place for gays."
Efforts to save the Boom Boom Room have been underway since June 2006 when it was purchased by Steven F. Udvar-Hazy. After collecting approximately 6,000 signatures from area residents and supporters, the property was saved last August when Udvar-Hazy offered a one-year lease. That lease comes up in September.
Said Karger of the Variety ad: “When we first found out that our landmark bar was about to close, we got organized and decided to fight its closure. The landmark Boom Boom Room was set to close last Labor Day (2006), but Mr. Udvar-Hazy was very helpful and gave us a one year reprieve. With Labor Day 2007 rapidly approaching, we figured we’d see if these great stars would come help the gay community down here in Laguna.”
Added Mayor Gentry: "The Gay Community of Laguna Beach is being thrown out into the Pacific Ocean and we are looking for some help from our friends. We have been talking to lots of potential buyers over the past several months and we thought we would try this bold approach to appeal to these thoughtful and caring stars."
In January, a nearby gay-owned restaurant, Woody's, was sold, further eating away at Laguna Beach's gay nightlife.
Though it may be a longshot in terms of actual success with the Pitt/Clooney team, the ad has certainly already generated enough publicity to draw other potential buyers to the rescue.