PHOTOS: Vintage Ads for LA’s Gay Bars of the 1970s, Then & Now

ah-men-2716-griffith-park-and-8900-santa-monica-479x670The year was 1971: Apollo 14 lands on the moon, the country is still mired in Vietnam, and Donna Summer is just starting her career. For a handful of local Los Angeles gay bars, it’s just business as usual as they place advertisements in what few publications comprise LGBT media.

Back then, these ads were no big deal. But today, they’re a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Los Angeles homosexual of the early ’70s. Check out those outfits! The term “groovy guys!” And reference to a mysterious drink called “the manhole,” the taste of which we can only imagine.

After a friend sent these along, we started wondering if any of the bars survived the intervening forty years. We checked Google Street View, and the results are, well, a little depressing. None of the names still exist. Many of the structures are gone. And only one remains a gay bar to this day.

Is this a symptom of a lack of community and continuity in L.A.’s gay community? Did the HIV epidemic wipe out our watering holes along with our brothers? Or is it just the normal churn & instability of the bar industry?

At any rate, check out the amazing time capsules below — what once was, and what remains.

8900 santa monica blvd

2716 griffith park blvd

The “Ah Men” boutique is sadly no longer with us. (We would kill for an art print of that ad to hang on a wall.) Replacing it are a generic bank in WeHo, and a parking crater in Silverlake.