Mayor or Bully of Boystown?
There has been much self-promoted hoopla regarding the recent “philanthropic” efforts led by one Larry Block, the owner of slut gear retail store Block Party, located in the heart of Boystown.
It’s widely known that Mr. Block collected checks from mostly well-meaning local WeHo businesses and then posted pictures of said checks all over social media with shoutouts thanking them for their generous donations to benefit the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
The meaning of the word philanthropy literally means, “seeking to promote the welfare of others, especially by donating money to good causes; generous and benevolent.—The fund drive looked mighty kind-hearted on a Facebook feed–philanthropy at its finest.
Sadly, we hear a lot of grumblings from local business owners who say malevolence is a more fitting word to describe Mr. Block’s heavy-handed fundraising efforts. They say they are none too happy about the way Block put the squeeze on them in the name of charity–especially during a time when revenues at local WeHo businesses lagged due to the cancellation of this years’ Pride Parade in lieu of the #resistmarch. Expecting merchants to cough up donations didn’t seem to make sense to them.
As part of a very public and exuberant exhibition of fundraising, the names and amounts of the charitable donations were also blasted over a microphone at a recent City Council meeting. And as promised (or threatened), the results were broadcasted live on WeHo TV and featured in Wehoville.
This shameless display prompted Councilmember John D’Amico to proclaim “Larry, you are now officially the real Mayor of Boystown.”
Not for a lack of bluster or publicity, titles have mostly eluded WeHo’s Larry Block. Remember his failed run for city council? There was his thwarted bid for a seat on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce. And we may recall his foiled lobbying attempts for a Commission appointment.
According to a number of WeHo merchants, Boystown Bully seemed a more befitting title than Mayor. They described Block’s fundraising methods as “mafia style, strong-arm tactics and extortion” replete with “blackmail, intimidation and shaming.”
Not unlike a thug who uses the specter of the Mafia to extort money, Larry used the threat of public shaming by posting lists on storefronts indicating those who donated and calling out those who did not.
A longtime business owner contacted WEHO TIMES last month asking: “Who is this loud guy Larry, and why is he in my store asking for money in front of my customers? I don’t need him to donate money to the Gay and Lesbian Center. I donate plenty. I can send them a check all on my own.”
The next day the same merchant messaged us saying: “Look what I found taped on my storefront window.”
There was a letter simply signed “Larry” that introduces something he concocted called the West Hollywood Independent Local Merchants Association. In that letter, Block promises to keep businesses unified on issues that they share. Attached was another sheet of paper, with a list separating merchants by name and dollar amounts. The list was split (meaning divided) into 3 categories: Donated. On Way. No Answer or Outstanding.
We asked the WeHo merchant if he planned to donate after seeing the list and his response was: “Not yet, I’m not on the list so I want to wait and see.”
In continuing down his slippery slope, Block said he wanted to set an example for Christopher Street West (CSW), the non-profit that produces the annual Pride festival and parade. He asserted that CSW should follow his lead and donate a percentage of their future sales to LGBT charities. The only issue with this is that CSW is itself a nonprofit organization within the LGBTQ community and lost nearly $400,000 in 2016.
We sent the LA LGBT Center a photo of the posted blacklisted businesses. They responded with the following statement:
“We weren’t even aware that this campaign had been launched until we heard from Larry that he was planning to present a check to us at the WeHo City Council meeting. So all we’ve got is enormous gratitude for all those who contributed.” – Gil Diaz, Media Relations LA LGBT Center.
At a National Night out event earlier this week, two Boystown merchants told us flat out, “We donated out of fear. It was extortion, blackmail and we wish we could get our money back”.
Another business owner acknowledged sales were down during this year’s Pride and while struggling to meet their rent, they felt pressure and made a donation. They said, “We asked other merchants and they told us, don’t take a chance – word will get out. He’s posting lists!”
Macaulay Caulkin and Paris Jackson Get Inked in WeHo
Paris Jackson, daughter of Michael Jackson and her godfather, Home Alone actor Macaulay Culkin were spotted this week getting inked at Tatto Mania in West Hollywood. Caulkin, as you may remember was very close to the late Jackson.
Caulkin, as you may remember was very close to the late Jackson.
Paris and Macaulay, we’re told seemed very close with head on Paris’ shoulder as they showed off their tattoos.
Gay.com Has New Home
The domain, estimated to be worth millions of dollars, was most recently an online hub for LGBT people looking for a community. It will now direct people to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s newly launched blog, Vanguard.
This change is being made possible through a generous donation by VS Media and its flagship live cam site, Flirt4Free.
“The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world,” said Flirt4Free Executive Vice President Brad Estes. “I’m very happy to announce that the future of Gay.com will go on within their extraordinary organization.”
The company acquired the domain last year and wanted to transform it into something that would provide maximum support for the LGBT community. They reached out to five of the top LGBT charities and asked them to come up with a proposal detailing how they planned to use the site in order to further their organization while supporting the LGBT community as a whole.
Vanguard, the Center’s blog, shares stories related to the work of the Center, which offers dozens of programs and services in four main categories: Health, Social Services and Housing, Culture and Education, and Leadership and Advocacy.
“We’re incredibly grateful to VSMedia for turning control of Gay.com to the Center,” said Jim Key, the Center’s chief marketing officer.
Cursed Space on Sunset
Barely16 months-old, the eatery inhabited a rather cursed space inside Sunset Boulevard’s iconic former Screen Actors Guild headquarters just of Sherbourne Drive.
Before The Guild, it was Al Bacio, Osteria Drago and Il Sole.
The restaurant has not confirmed but the phone is disconnected and their OpenTable is not online.
West Hollywood INSIDER
Your source for the hottest gossip, juiciest rumors, sightings and pop culture news in West Hollywood.
“When they go low, we go deep!”