Here’s a candid Throwback Thursday to a buzzing Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood’s historical Boystown, circa 1993. This was taken on the north end of Santa Monica Blvd, facing west. Judging from the sequence of this photo taken by photographer Alan Light, we believe it was take on June, 1993, probably on a Saturday during pride weekend (there was a poster promoting Jurassic Park somewhere in the photos taken that day).
Here we get a glimpse of a Different Light Book Store, where Block Party now stands, Micky’s in the early 90s, where it still stands, only two stories high with a bigger patio, and the beloved 6 Gallery Cafe, where Chi Chi Larue’s adult store now stands.
The giant stack of free gay rags piled in front of a Different Light Book Store brings back memories of a simple time when the free gay rag market was booming. Frontiers, Edge, and Planet Homo are some of the prominent magazines that come to mind in the early 90s. These gay periodicals were the main form of information for a lot of the community back then. Gays got the latest gossip and their fill of local news on a bi-weekly basis. The cover models were tanned and toned and sometimes you could find their headless torsos for sale in the classified section buried in the back.
A Different Light was about 3 years old (it opened in 1990). The poster at the window promoting The Front Runner, a novel by Patricia Nell Warren (who lost her life to lung cancer in February of last year) reminds me how much I loved this gay book store, with its shelves lined with LGBT authors, nudie magazines and the space was known for book signing events. You could find gay tchotchkes all over the store like rainbow stickers, naughty greeting cards and drag queen teddy bears, not too differently from what Block Party offers today.
It was the beginning of the end for me when a Different Light Book Store closed in West Hollywood in 2009, before the San Francisco location closed in 2011. I was a secret bookworm posing as party boy for most of my younger gay life, so it was devastating to see this gay-owned book store close its doors, while drunken gays formed a line outside of Micky’s next door, which snaked down the Boulevard.
The picture above also shows a tiny glimpse of the 6 Gallery cafe. I remember the gallery featuring local artists. I remember the plush couches scattered about and there was always a line of homos waiting to use the restroom down in a lower section. 6th Gallery became the WeHo Lounge and then the space hung its coffee mugs to dry and the walls were stacked with clothing racks to house some retail store or other, before shelves were replaced with dildos, poppers, and other adult paraphernalia at Chi Chi LaRues.
The phone booth you see here meant no cell phones, which meant gays were forced to interact. In person. Face to face.
It was a simple WeHo time in Boystown.