SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel

By Josh Eliot

 

When Catalina Video moved me to Los Angeles in 1989, I developed a great friendship with the post production supervisor Chet Thomas. Chet was a 5'8” fair skinned blond California boy. We were in our late 20s and enjoyed the same interests. Our bonding happened the night we went to a premiere screening of the movie Scandal with Bridget Fonda and Joanne Whaley Kilmer. The movie was about two loose girls and some politicians whose actions created a scandal in England. We both took on their quirky free-spirited attributes and made a running joke of it by calling each other “Sal” - the name they used for the “loose” one in the movie. Chet was the Kilmer (wild child) character and I was the Bridget Fonda (along for the ride) character.

Our hang out spot at the time was the Spike in West Hollywood. It was just a block and a half away from my apartment and within walking distance to Chet’s as well. We would turn on the “Sal” mode whenever we partied there and Chet, being a “loose goose,” was rubbing off on me. It was like a competition of who could score first. Chet always won; it was quantity not quality with him and he was more open to things like running out into the parking lot for a quickie.

 

Scandal poster, the Spike bar

Scandal poster, the Spike bar

 

I did beat him at least once, with a hot muscleman named Moses. Yes Moses, and I have to say he was heavenly. I don’t think Moses ever left his house with a shirt on, or if he did it was always unbuttoned and wide open. At least every time we saw him at the bar he was that way. He was one of those guys that you thought was completely unapproachable, but as things turned out he approached me one night. Chet was pissed the next day, when we caught up with each other, because he was trying to close that deal forever!

Chet knew every hot spot in Los Angeles and would introduce me to all of them, good and bad. One night after drinking he took me to a place called the Coral Sands Motel. Not necessarily a “good” one. This place was a bathhouse disguised as a motel. It was quite a large and in a dingy part of the city between Hollywood and Silver Lake. He didn’t explain a thing to me, just took me there one night after drinking shots at the Spike. The place had two levels with exterior doors in a rectangle, facing each other and a courtyard with pool and sauna in the center. I guess the protocol was that you go to your room (leaving your door open of course for passersby to look in), strip down, wrap yourself in a towel and walk the grounds. How was this possible? Large apartment buildings on each side could look right down into the courtyard! I just followed Chet’s lead and did what he did. Sal and Sal were in full swing, hoping from room to room, talking with the occupants. If we liked them then we would stay for a while, if not we were back to walking the grounds. We ended up in two guys' room that we thought were hot, but once inside it felt like they were straight out of The Sopranos, and maybe on the run??? After smoking some weed with them we made up some story and left the room, continuing our pursuit of happiness on the grounds. This night was probably the wildest I’d ever been I my life. It’s a little embarrassing for me to share but I can write about it now because it was quite a unique experience.

 

Coral Sands Motel

Coral Sands Motel

 

Chet and I had a very close friendship and for about two years we were literally attached at the hip, but it all came to a screeching halt when he met a guy named John. He was smitten and instantly turned from the Happy Hooker to Dolly Madison overnight. It was shortly after this point that I met Mark Rutter, who I discussed in my previous blog “7 Years with Colt Model Mark Rutter.” We were both now pretty much “married up” and slowly started only seeing each other at work. Chet was editing my movies and as our friendship became distant so did our working relationship. In my movies, I started noticing constant “choppy” cuts where I knew there was the ability to make the edits look smooth. We were still friends but if Chet got a hair up his ass about something, you’d better watch out. More and more as time went on, I felt like he was sabotaging some of my movies by including funky sound or choppy edits, etc. Chi Chi noticed it on her movies too. It got so bad that on a movie that was super important to me, Single White Male, he actually reversed the order of two scenes, making the storyline a little messed up. That year I won Best Screenplay and Rob Cryston won Best Actor for Single White Male, but I was still pissed about the out of order scenes which I didn’t catch until it was released on VHS. I walked a fine line between respecting our friendship or totally calling him out on what he was doing. Luckily, things were resolved when I asked the general manager to let me edit my own movies, which he agreed to and purchased a separate editing bay for me to use. Chet and I remained friends, but the “Sal” days were over forever.

 

Single White Male

Single White Male

 

On New Year's Day this year, I was finally able to put the mixed up scenes from Single White Male back into the proper order. It’s not that way in the XXX version, but it is in the PG version I put on my YouTube Channel, which you can take a look at if you like. Rob Cryston slays in that role! Chet Thomas and I first met when he came to San Francisco to shoot The Big One, where we bonded over creating special effects for the earthquake scene in his movie. Upon moving to L.A. we became like brothers, and with brothers there are always some bumpy roads. In this blog I have an obligation to tell the truth, good or bad. The truth is I look at my friendship with Chet, including the bumps, as one of my fondest relationships from the past. Chet, in addition to editing for Scott Master at Nova and Catalina, directed some amazing movies for Catalina including: Sex Crimes, The Getaway, NightForce, Cruise Control and Too Damn Big. He, like many other talents in our community, was taken from us way too early...

 

Some of Chet Thomas' movies

Some of Chet Thomas' movies

 

 

Bio of Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002. 

 

You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD

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Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD

By Josh Eliot

 

Free and easy is how I’d describe the good ole days in San Francisco (1980 - 1988). I embraced the idea of that kind of world, even though living in 1980s San Francisco was like being in a bubble, you really felt the world would be a better place if that euphoria spread outside the Bay Area’s borders. You couldn’t go anywhere in the city that wasn’t sexually charged, lust was in the air. I can’t imagine San Francisco being as free spirited today, I really hope I’m wrong.

I moved to San Francisco at 17 from Rhode Island, and after my stint at the San Francisco Art Institute and prior to starting with Catalina Video, I worked mostly as an insurance claims clerk. At age 19 or 20 I worked on the 32nd floor of the 50 California Street Building in the financial district, opening mail, typing, filing and assisting the claims adjusters. The office was 60 / 40 with the majority being gay men in their late 20s. The office did not have a general manager at the time so the person in charge was a supervisor named Jackie. Jackie loved gay boys and never passed up hiring one when they walked in the door for an interview. My first Friday, Fritz, a claims adjuster, walked up and told me: “Work is over for the week and for the last hour everyone hangs out in the break room.” Jay, the other clerk, nodded and said, “Everybody drinks vodka screwdrivers, except for me because I’m not 21 yet, but Peter will sneak us some.”

Talk about free and easy! I’m sure home office in New York would not have approved of such behavior, so I’m not mentioning this major company’s name. Sure enough, Peter and Fred, two claims adjusters, were pouring vodka and orange juice when I got into the break room where everyone drank and socialized. The gay guys would hold court while the straight ladies ate it all up! Mostly everyone took the train to and from work so there weren't issues with driving. Peter did sneak Jay and I our drinks and I’m sure Jackie knew we were lying to her when we said we were only drinking orange juice. Everyone left work for the weekend on a “high note.” This went on for weeks and only ended when a new general manager was assigned to the office. Our Fridays hit a road block.

As weeks passed, I grew closer to the guys at the office, especially Fritz and Fred. Now on Friday’s directly after work, we all went to Sutter's Mill, a gay bar in the financial district where everybody was in a suit and tie or office attire. It was fucking hot! I equate it to a uniform fetish, but it was a three piece suit fetish! Very sexy. I used my friend’s Rhode Island ID to get into bars until I was 21 and it always worked, always. Sutter’s Mill really was a site to behold, the place was packed and more often than not the adjusters would hook up and leave with some hot number. By 7:00pm the place was dead so we would normally head over to the Castro for dinner and more drinks.

 

Josh Eliot at 17, 50 California St., Sutter's Mill

Josh Eliot at 17, 50 California St., Sutter's Mill

 

Fritz was really courting me and I fell head over heels for him. We had regular dates and hook-ups for months, but it was like pulling teeth for him to ever say we were “boyfriends.” He was the ultimate free spirit with “hippy-ish” behavior, like not being able to put labels on things. It was annoying as all hell and after a while his free and easy attitude was turning me off because I wanted acknowledgment of our relationship. The situation was complicated by the fact that he was secretly still in love with his current roommate Sam, his ex-lover that he never got over.

Fred, on the other hand, was a fun party boy who lived in Marin County and commuted over the Golden Gate to work. My frustration with Fritz led me to acting out and I started doing things I never would have if Fritz had only acknowledged and nurtured our relationship. Every now and again Fred and I had occasional hook ups at a little motel on the avenues. I knew whenever he offered to drive me home from the bar on Fridays it was because he really wanted to drive something else home. I always said yes to that ginormous Italian sausage and made sure to keep it a secret from all the others at work, because everyone knew I was seeing Fritz (everyone except Fritz, evidently).

 

Josh and Fred (L) and Josh, Fred and Fritz (R)

Josh and Fred (L) and Josh, Fred and Fritz (R)

 

One summer, Fritz was back-packing across Europe and it just so happened my brother was flying me to England to watch tennis in Wimbledon with him. When Wimbledon ended, I met up with Fritz and we traveled through England and France. I imagined that this would be the turning point in our “relationship” from fuck buddies to something more. We had some great, romantic times but once we got to Nice things fell apart. The entire trip he kept disappearing into bars' back rooms and I really hadn’t said anything. This was my last night before heading back to England to fly home while he continued through Italy. I wanted to stay in but he wanted to go to Blue Boy, a gay bar. When we got there, upon entering, this really hot bouncer was staring me down. Fritz and I danced, drank, and had a good time until he disappeared into a back room. When he came back to the table I was pissed and went off to the bathroom. In line I looked over to the bouncer who again was staring at me; he motioned me over. I walked over to him and he said something to me in French. When I spoke back in English he just reached down, pulled me into him and started making out with me. He then pulled me over to the bathroom line in front of two private bathrooms. The door opened and he pushed me in with him. It was intense, he was hot and hungry and we had full on sex! People were pounding on the door and he yelled back at them in a rough streetwise tone, which made things all the more hot! Afterwards, I went back to the table and told Fritz exactly what happened to get a reaction and make him jealous. He told me he thought it was great and was happy I had that experience. That was the final straw for me, I couldn’t believe he was not upset and ended things with him there and then. We were done.

I was bitter and distraught when I took the sleeper train back to England. My heart was broken but I was determined to put him out of my thoughts. Shortly after returning to England I went to a pub for a stiff drink where I met three guys from Scotland. They were all handsome, but I particularly hit it off with the shaved headed one. They took me with them to the nightclub Heaven where we danced and drank the night away. From Heaven, we all took a taxi to their apartment in some really random part of London. I was finally free of Fritz, and because of my recent behavior and the fact I went home with three Scottish guys, some would say I was easy. Like the song says: Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD and I was back to doing just that!

 

Blue Boy in Nice, Heaven in London

Blue Boy in Nice, Heaven in London

 

 

Bio of Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002. 

 

You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone

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CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone

By Josh Eliot

 

I remember my first Tom DeSimone movie: Reform School Girls. A large group of us were going on a Friday night and the film was a lot of fun, especially when Wendy O. Williams rode on top of a bus after barreling through the gates. In San Francisco, 1980s, when you had moments like that on film, the whole audience would scream and applaud in delight. My friends and I were constantly at the Castro or Market Street movie houses that would regularly show John Waters, Andy Warhol and other cult movies. When I saw actress Pat Ast was in Reform School Girls, I knew we were in for a good time. I remembered her from Andy Warhol’s movie Heat, shot mostly at the old Tropicana Motel in West Hollywood, where my friends and I stayed on previous visits to L.A. Tom made many popular mainstream movies including The Concrete Jungle, Hell Night, Prison Girls and the cult classic Chatterbox, to name a few.

 

Reform School Girls poster and stars Pat Ast and Wendy O. Williams
Reform School Girls poster and stars Pat Ast and Wendy O. Williams
 
Posters for The Concrete Jungle and Chatterbox

Posters for The Concrete Jungle and Chatterbox

 

Once I moved from San Francisco to West Hollywood and got settled into the Catalina offices, it was a fun surprise to find out that Catalina released and distributed gay adult movies made by Tom DeSimone, under the name Lancer Brooks. In my first blog: “Coming Out Of My Wet Shorts” I wrote about how much that movie poster influenced me. Wet Shorts, Flesh & Fantasy, The Dirty Picture Show, Skin Deep, NightCrawler and Bi Bi Love (with one of my favorite scenes ever in a bisexual movie, featuring Crystal Evans) were all sold by Catalina. I would say my VHS tapes of Tom’s movies were like a “video tutorial” on how to make a great adult movie. His movies had just the right combination of comedy, drama, and titillation, seamlessly edited to create these gems. In Wet Shorts it was the traveling salesman scene, Flesh & Fantasy the jacuzzi scene and Skin Deep’s minimalist yet multilayered story of a writer who befriends a sex worker spoke volumes about his internal thought process. It goes without saying that I was truly inspired. Where John Travis taught me the value of lighting and cinematography, Tom DeSimone’s movies inspired me to write and direct stories with a quirky flair to them. I know the adult movies of today don’t really embrace the “storyline” concept, but we did back then and I always tried to make the most of it.

 

Tom DeSimone DVDs from Catalina

Tom DeSimone DVDs from Catalina

 

After completing my final movie for Catalina Video called Hot Buttered Cop Porn in 2006, my partner Tony and I moved to Palm Desert and continued editing and remastering Catalina movies for release on DVD, until the company was sold to Channel 1. One random afternoon, I spoke to my friend Kurt about how I was remastering Skin Deep for DVD release and out of the blue he told me that he knew Tom DeSimone from The Desert Film Society, as Tom was a founding member and served on the board. I was shocked and elated when Kurt followed up to tell me that Tom said I could contact him. The order of things is a little fuzzy but meeting Tom was so exciting for me, and Chi Chi LaRue (who of course I told immediately when this all came about). I was working for Channel 1 Releasing at this point and Chi Chi was part owner. In addition to being a warm and wonderful guy, Tom was very generous in sharing his experiences within the adult and mainstream industry. Channel 1 gave me the go ahead to set up video interviews with Tom discussing the behind the scenes working of his movies released by Catalina. We shot four interviews, one for each movie - Wet Shorts, Flesh & Fantasy, The Dirty Picture Show and Skin Deep - which were added to the DVD releases of each movie as “Bonus Extras.” Chi Chi and Tom sat on my couch and we recorded them conversing with each other while watching NightCrawler, which then became a “Bonus Director’s Commentary” on that DVD. It was all very exciting to have our Idol (excuse the pun) spending time with us. Tom even invited us to a party at his house where he projected a classic old movie on the big screen in his backyard to a large group of partygoers. I have both the Skin Deep interview and full interview on my YouTube channel if you would like to view them.

 

Tom DeSimone's Skin Deep interview

Tom DeSimone's Skin Deep interview

 

Having access to Bijou Video's amazing streaming service, I recently watched the restored and remastered version of The Idol, and now I know what all the hype is about. This is one great, timeless classic which felt very much like a mainstream movie. Bijou’s streaming catalog also includes many other Tom DeSimone movies like: Dust unto Dust, Confessions of a Male Groupie, The Frenchman & The Lovers (formally titled: The Harder They Fall), Station to Station, and of course my personal favorite Hot Truckin', with Gordon Grant! The Bijou catalog’s vast number of movies never ceases to amaze me! So much content! I’ve heard through the grape-vine that Tom DeSimone’s Catching Up is a real crowd pleaser as well. That is the next one on my list to stream this weekend. Look at this, here I am retired from adult video making and yet I am still obsessed with watching more Tom DeSimone movies to see if I can still learn more from one of the best!

 

Catching Up poster and Tom DeSimone editing

Catching Up poster and Tom DeSimone editing

 

For more on Tom DeSimone's career, see also Bijou's 2019 interview with him: Part 1 and Part 2

 

Bio of Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002. 

 

You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room

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An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills

By Will Seagers
 
Big handful of pills

 

From as far back as I can remember the use of drugs was inextricably woven into the fabric of gay sex and clubbing. Although trends and the drugs of choice for that day have changed over the decades, there is still an unspoken need for their presence.

The chronology for all of this is not meant to be exact. But, having been there personally for a lot of this, it will be anecdotally close to the mark.

Weed was and still remains the favorite for the widest audience. Its effects were calming (for the most part). In the "Summer of Love" - 1969 - with Woodstock and the ever expanding gay bar scene in the major cities, it became ubiquitous as part of a good time.

For myself, my episode with marijuana (by itself) was rather short lived. I liked it in conjunction with LSD to take off some the harsh edges that were encountered. That was one of the first combos that I can remember.

 

Assortment of drugs

 

LSD was one of my favorite adventures. On my first trip with orange sunshine at the age of 18 or so, I remember being at my friend's house and being so high that I was watching cartoons in my cupped hands! Acid in the early days was QUITE powerful and should have been done in small doses. Hey, what did I know? I'll tell you what I didn't know at first. It took a good 45 minutes to come on. So, if you were an impatient kiddo like me... you took another hit! Ha. And, then the space ship took off! I found sex on acid was very bizarre - I did not like my partners morphing in front of me! Lol.

In the early 70's, some RXs were handy - if you liked downers. Seconals, Tuinols, Placidyls, and of course the ever popular Quaalude! One could get quite messy on any of these. And, there was no such thing as inhibitions either. If you could remain alert enough... the sex could be a lot of fun. I also need to mention Valium. Although a downer itself, it was quite a rescue pill in the case of a bad trip. I always remember them being brought out at the end of a long Saturday night/Sunday morning on Fire Island!

 

Seconal pills

RX had nothing to do with it!

 

On the other side of the rainbow were the "stimulants." In the early days, the good ones required an RX, too. Black Beauties were first prescribed by "Diet Doctors" as a quick way to shed pounds. Side effects - life in the (very) fast lane and no need to sleep for at least a day or so. "Christmas Trees" - Dexamil - were more fun in that they were half an upper and half a downer. From that you attained a pleasant "sideways" condition that lasted for hours. I was given my first of these Bi-Phetamines by a fellow flight attendant. They did the trick on overnight flights! Recreationally, they were taken with acid for a little additional color!

Edging into the 80s, another chapter unfolded - MDA and all of it sister derivatives. This had to be the best drug for sex and dancing that ever rolled down the pike. Being the ancient grandmother to ecstasy, it did race up the heart to achieve its goals. Regardless of the injury rate, it remained at the top of the list for the first few years of the 80s.

Looking back at all of this, it was amazing to see what new drugs came out and how they changed the culture. As nightlife became "morning life," cocaine and speed became more and more popular as the need to stay up increased. Cocaine supplanted weed for many as their drug of choice. Its "rush" coincided with the more rapid pace of the mid to late 80s. Valiums to the rescue at the end of a coke weekend!

Right on the heels of the coke phenomenon came crystal in the mid to late 80s. It was the ultimate expression of the "up for three days" culture. Although its primary feeling was that of raw sex, it had the downside of creating a lot of impotence! So, out of necessity a little blue pill (Viagra) came on the scene - to bring everyone back to life! More than any other drug, crystal was extremely dangerous. It was highly addictive and destructive to major systems in the body. I speak with experience with regard to this "ex-friend." I literally moved away from S.F. to save myself from what could have been my demise. I had been a member of the "up for three days club." With some soul searching and brief moments of sanity, I made arrangements to move back east and rehabilitate myself. It worked!

I am looking back at this and sharing this in almost disbelief... How did I make it through all of this? It was the most decadent of times with no guard rails to be seen anywhere! I am just glad that with a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other, the angel prevailed! That alphabet soup of powders and pills is all in the past... with some astonishing memories!

 

 

Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted career and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model and film performer. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.

 

Will Seagers, present day image

 


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s

 

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The BOOM BOOM Room

By Josh Eliot

 

In Laguna Beach, California The Coast Inn, built in 1927, was one of the earliest hotels in the area. The Inn featured hotel rooms, a café and bar. By 1941, the secluded beach town had rapidly grown into a resort destination. During World War II and in the post-World War II period, the property’s clientele changed from primarily vacation travelers to members of the military. In 1956, a fire destroyed much of the front portion of the building, which new owners, the Smith brothers, rebuilt and added a nightclub. In 1977, the cocktail lounge and dining room of the Coast Inn were operating as The Boom Boom Room, a nightclub and disco, and were sold to Sidney Bryan in 1978. The Coast Inn hotel, restaurant and bar now catered predominately to the gay community. As the property grew in popularity over the next few decades, it gained a reputation as being the area’s premier gay nightclub, bringing a very large gay tourist and resident population to the seaside community.

 

The Coast Inn, built in 1927

The Coast Inn, built in 1927

 

In the 1980s, Michael Martenay, a Laguna Beach resident, was appalled to learn that the ashes of two former patrons who had died from AIDS had been scattered in the green space behind the Boom Boom Room. The green area had fallen in disarray and was filled with trash and liquor bottles. Michael spent two days hauling out 39 trash bags of garbage from the site, determined to bring the space back to life. Through community donations of flowers, plants, seeds and other materials Martenay built and perfected “The Garden of Peace and Love,” a memorial garden for mourners who lost friends to AIDS. It is said that over 50 souls' ashes have been scattered there. The city of Laguna Beach, after a recommendation from Police Chief James Spreine, installed a water line near the garden to ensure the garden’s life for years to come.

 

The Garden of Peace and Love

The Garden of Peace and Love

 

I first discovered the Boom Boom Room when I went location scouting with Scott Masters for my upcoming movie, Pacific Coast Highway 2. We found a beach house with ocean front access and booked it. I was anxious about this movie assignment because it was big shoes to fill making a sequel to a William Higgins classic. I fully admit that I was too green to pull it off properly at that stage in my career. The cast and crew did have a great time making it though. I had a brand new exclusive model named Hank Sterling who was very hunky and masculine. Scott Masters took me to the Boom Boom Room for drinks when we were in town months earlier and I of course took the cast and crew there after shooting our dailies. I was always very frugal with budgets and only spent where I needed to, so that left lots of miscellaneous money left over to treat the guys to nights on the town!

 

Pacific Coast Highway 2

Pacific Coast Highway 2

 

Over the years, friends and I made Laguna Beach a regular destination when getting out of town. When I was assigned a movie called Cat Men Do, an original idea our general manager came up with, I didn’t hesitate to make it a “Roadie Movie.” The concept of the movie was pretty much showing the day to day functions of Catalina Video: model searches, promotional ideas, and even the fictional character “Rusty James,” whose signature was on every piece of correspondence to our mail order customers. I shot a faceless Rusty, only identifiable by his name embroidered on his shirt, in the desert of Palm Springs where he gave away VHS tapes to the large number of guys who would blow him through a glory hole in a secluded abandoned shack. I had to somehow make this shameless promotion of the company movie interesting. While we were shooting the Laguna Beach “model search” scenes for the movie, we also scheduled an actual model search contest at the Boom Boom Room. This time we also occupied rooms at the Coast Inn for our cast and crew. The local and tourist crowd could not have been more receptive and fun. Model wannabes got up on stage, showed their asses off and won prizes. Michael Cody and Steve Rambo were the MCs and of course we all drank until closing! After closing, patrons would go down the steps, past the Garden of Peace and Love and continue partying (and more) on the beach under the cliffs. That was our last shoot day so I didn’t have to chase after the models to make sure they weren’t sucking any dick. We all left in love with the Coast Inn and Boom Boom Room experience, eagerly excited about our return some day.

 

Cat Men Do model search party at the Boom Boom Room

Cat Men Do model search party at the Boom Boom Room

 

The Boom Boom Room in full swing

The Boom Boom Room in full swing

 

In September of 2007, the Coast Inn, featuring the Boom Boom Room, shuttered its doors. Because of the Coast Inn’s significance, the new owners' plans to redevelop were held in limbo for over a decade. In 2018, the space still had not been touched by the new owners and the city of Laguna Beach approved the Boom Boom Room to reopen for two days during the Gay Pride Festival, and it was packed! In August 2021, the Coastal Commission cleared the way for the Coast Inn remodel. The Boom Boom Room re-opening is not part of their plans.

 


Bio of Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002. 

 

You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment

That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR

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