Who here remembers way back to the city of West Hollywood when there was a gay bar in the Boystown area called the Four Star Saloon? We’re talkin’ way before the space became home to the iconic Micky’s WeHo we see today, located at 8690 Santa Monica Boulevard. According to ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries, the Four Star Saloon (also known as The Four Star) was first documented in 1960 and last documented in 1986.
WEHO TIMES reader Scott Young remembers the Four Star Saloon. He read an article we posted about West Hollywood Boystown circa 1981 and he said it brought back a ton of memories.
“Your article from December 30, 2022 was a lot of fun to read, and it brought back a ton of memories,” he said. “In the 3rd paragraph, you asked, ‘Who here remembers the Four Star?’ Well, I do. I was inspired to go digging into my archives, and I found the attached. I thought you might like to see these vintage gems…”
Scott says he mainly frequented the Four Star on Thursday nights, back when they had a male stripper review (a tradition that lives on in Micky’s WeHo to this day in the form of go-go dancers). He remembers a woman would walk around with a Polaroid camera every week and work the room. For $5, she’d take your picture after the show when the strippers came out and mingled with the crowd. Scott unearthed three photos from inside the Four Star that were taken by said photographer (some of you may remember a man who used to take polaroids at the clubs in the early 90s as well).
Although One Archives says the Four Star was last documented in 1986, Scott believes his photos could date back to 1988/89 (Micky’s opened in 1989, so most likely 88). “I don’t know the exact dates, but the presence of my ex, George, in both, tells me these were taken in 1988 or 1989.”
According to Scott, the entrance to the Four Star Saloon was located to the far right (the east side of the structure, similar to Micky’s WeHo). “As you walked in, you had to make an immediate left, as there was a wall there that prevented anyone standing right at the door to see inside the bar,” he said. “Immediately behind that entry wall/partition was the elevated DJ booth. The DJ sat higher up so as to be able to see out over the entire bar.
The front had windows that looked out onto Santa Monica Blvd. However, the westernmost
windows were blanked out, as that’s where the stage was.”
He was generous enough to provide us with specs as he remembers the bar was set up.
He said the bar was fairly well centered in the floor plan similar to today with seating all around the bar. “The wooden bar stools that I remember were very uncomfortable to sit on,” he said. “There were tall, round bar-style tables closer to the eastern and western walls in the back area. The stage was on the western side. In the front, where the blacked-out windows were, directly opposite the stage in the back, was an elevated platform with standing spotlights. There were some small floods also mounted on the ceiling to the front of the stage. I’m pretty sure they were fixed in place, as I don’t remember a lighting tech, except for the guy running the spotlights. We–me, Mark, Susie, Dennis–always had the table right there in that corner. It became such a regular thing that the bartenders made sure the table was ‘reserved’ for us. They’d chase away anyone who tried to take the table before we got there.”
Of course, we asked about the men’s restroom.
“The restrooms were located in the back northeastern corner. I absolutely hated the men’s room at Four Star. The urinal was one long trough that could fit maybe 8 guys shoulder-to-shoulder. I’ve been pee-shy all my life, so having to use that communal urinal was excruciating. The stalls weren’t any better, as they had no doors on them.”
Of course we asked if the men’s restroom was cruisy…
“I wondered if this was going to be one of your questions–Hahahaha,” he said. “On the few occasions I actually used the restroom at Four Star, there were no blatant sex acts going on, but there was a lot of making out and kissing. There were other bars that were far more notorious for their restroom romps, but Four Star was pretty tame, I guess.”
According to random ad clippings, The Four Star restaurant and bar. It served lunch and dinner from Tuesday through Sunday and brunch on the weekend. One ad that was unearthed by WeHo history buff Mark Donnell, reveals that at one point, Cafe Creme 2 was at Four Star serving a “continental cuisine.”
Scott says he never went to the bar for the food and he doesn’t remember ever seeing anyone eating there, but he figures dinner may have been served before the drag shows. He was mostly there in the afternoons and on weekends.
There was no front patio at Four Star compared to Micky’s. There was only one main entrance. “When Micky’s arrived, they tore out the front windows and put in those doors that open out onto the sidewalk. Four Star also didn’t have any tables outside in front, like Micky’s does. Before Micky’s, it was a much more confined space when you were inside.”
Scott also doesn’t recall much dancing happening at Four Star, at least not on the nights that he frequented the bar when they had male strippers and drag shows.
“There may have been dancing on other nights,” he said. “In general, the music was reflective of the time period. The early and mid-80s were when all the good music was coming over from England – the Eurythmics, Thompson Twins, Tears For Fears, Fun Boy Three, Bananarama, Simple Minds, The Police, The Cure, etc. However, we also had some pretty great music coming from right here in the States, as well – Talking Heads, Phil Collins, Tina Turner, Huey Lewis, Prince, R.E.M., etc. In the dance clubs, they still played a lot of the really great disco music, along with similar music that came after the disco era, mainly because it was so fun to dance to – songs like ‘It’s Raining Men’ by The Weather Girls. Near the end of the 80s, still more great music was hitting the bars and dance clubs – songs like ‘Opposites Attract’ by Paula Abdul and ‘Rhythm Nation’ by Janet Jackson. Of my entire lifetime, I think the music of the 80s is by far my favorite, and much of that music I collected from having heard it played in West Hollywood and Silverlake bars and dance venues.”
Then there was the clientele.
Despite calling itself a “saloon,” Four Star was far from a country western bar. Scott says In the mid-80s, the average age of the clientele was between 30 and 40, but when Micky’s took over the space, they catered to a much younger crowd. The dress code was always casual, like Polo shirts and jeans, where as Revolver video bar, which is still located two doors down, attracted a younger, preppy crowd back in the day.
“When I went out with friends, we would discuss what we felt like doing, where we wanted to go, and things like that. Once we got to our destination, we usually stayed put. But we also weren’t exclusive to any one establishment. We went to Revolver, sometimes, to the Eagle, or the Gold Coast… but there was one bar we started going to in the very late-80s and early-90s that I can find no information on called Cheers.”
It not clear when The Four Star closed, but we do know that Micky’s WeHo opened in April of 1989.
Scott says he doesn’t remember when it closed, or why. “Word came down that Four Star was closing, and we had to find a new place to do our drinking. So we ended up at
Revolver a lot. Every so often we’d hit Circus Disco, but I wasn’t a dancer, so that place held little interest for me.”
There are a small batch of photos of the Four Star Saloon floating around in Facebook groups. We found a short clip from the 1986 movie “The Morning After” starring Jane Fonda and a tiny cameo by a young Bruce Vilanch who plays a sassy bartender. The clip gives us a shot of the exterior and we get a small glimpse inside facing Santa Monica Boulevard.
It’s way back WeHo to the Four Star Saloon in@WeHoCity’s Boystown. This is from a 1986 film “The Morning After” starring @Janefonda. The Four Star would later become Micky’s WeHo in 1989. #wehotimes #weho #westhollywood https://t.co/2FLwNNGFnQ pic.twitter.com/CACNZN7ksf
— WEHO TIMES (@WEHO_TIMES) August 26, 2023
Today, in its place, we have Micky’s WeHo, a two story complex with a downstairs and upstairs bar that serves as a nightclub and also a restaurant. There is a dance area, outdoor patio, remodeled restrooms and plenty of go-go dancers–not forgetting to mention its drag shows, very similar to what The Four Star Saloon offered. Micky’s is an institution that has lasted over 30 years and continues to thrive thanks to various themed nights throughout the week.
The Four Star Saloon is one for the West Hollywood history books.
Who here remembers the early days of West Hollywood? Who here has photos they want to share?
UPDATE – Michael Niemeyer, the owner Micky’s West Hollywood posted a comment that we’re highlighting here with some additional fascinating information on The Four Star:
“Hi just a little more info on the Four Star. It is one of the oldest continuously operating bars in LA county, having received the second or third liquor license issued after the end of prohibition. The name Four Star was in reference to the military during WW2. It was a roadhouse stop on the red line in the unincorporated area of West Hollywood at the time. We know it had a gay identity in the 1950s as it was a hangout for various closeted movie industry people like Montgomery Clift, Anthony Perkins and Dorthy Parker. It’s also referenced in the book ‘Detour’ written by Cheryl Crane, Lana Turner’s daughter as a hang out for her when she was underaged and would sneak in the back door. Since some of the older bars have closed over the years, I wonder if it’s the longest continuously running LBGTQ bar in Los Angeles. Thanks for your article and interest.
Michael Niemeyer, owner Micky’s West Hollywood.”