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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Super NOVA

By Josh Eliot

 

Nova Studios logo

 

When I saw on the Bijou website that they are offering Nova Studios note cards (Set 1 and Set 2), I thought to myself, what a great collector’s item! I remember my older brother’s collection from 1966 of the Lost in Space “Topps” trading cards, especially the ones featuring my first crush at age 5, Don West. Card sets came in various sizes, small enough to include a flat piece of bubble gum and as large as Lobby Cards showcased in theaters. What an incredible taste of the 60’s and 70’s, and it’s no surprise to me that Nova Video’s founder Robert Walters (known to me as Scott Masters) included such items in his mail order business.

 

Lost in Space trading card and Nova note cards

Lost in Space trading card (left) and Nova note cards (right)

 

Walters started his business in 1967, producing male photo sets for bookstores, and then partnered with Reuben Sturman to shoot and print magazines. In 1970, magazines segued into loops (8mm short films designed for peep shows) and by 1976, Walters had directed more than 100 of them. The same year, he founded Nova Studios and shot their first production, Tub Tricks. The silent films were now 20 minutes in length and sold through direct mail as well as at adult bookstores.

 

Images from Nova's Tub Tricks

Images from Nova's Tub Tricks (DVD | Streaming)

 

Nova’s offices were right across the street from Pink's Hot Dogs, a Los Angeles landmark, where on any given day you can see A-List stars in line or in their limos waiting for Pinks’s Famous Chili Cheese Dogs. Several blocks away was another wiener stand called Oki-Dog, which was not as famous. Instead of Hollywood elite as their customers, the place was always crawling with street hustlers, making it a great location for Walters to pick up lunch and discover new talent for photographing.

 

Oki-Dog and Pink's

Oki-Dog (left) and Pink's (right)

 

The Robert Walters Nova era was prior to my meeting him in 1987, but my friend Chet Thomas worked for Walters at Nova from 1984 to 1986, when Nova stopped production and they both signed with Catalina Video. Once I moved to Los Angeles, Chet and I were attached at the hip and he would tell me stories about his times working for Robert Walters. William Higgins hired Walters as head of production, and he shot his first movie for Catalina called The Bigger They Come. Chet Thomas became the company editor. Walters, now known to everyone as Scott Masters, hired me in 1987 in San Francisco and then brought me to L.A. in 1989. He set me up in a fabulous condo on Sweetzer Street just a block from The Spike, a gay bar that Chet and I would hang out at.

Being new to Los Angeles, Scott Masters had me shadow him everywhere. Any day that we weren’t shooting sex, he had a list a mile long of “things” for me to do. At times I felt like an indentured servant, frequently getting him his favorite lunch (curry chicken sandwich from a Sunset Blvd deli) or organizing and inventorying his garage, which was filled floor to ceiling with wardrobe from his Nova and Catalina movies. Masters was a “costume queen” producer, always spending money from our budgets on them to satisfy his own fetish. Obsessed would be an appropriate word. When he wasn’t focusing on the latest Members Only jacket, he trained me on producing, budgeting, directing photo layouts, scouting locations, model scouting, and grooming. One day, we headed to San Diego to meet a potential new “exclusive” model, but stopped on the way to see a penthouse in Hollywood for a possible shooting location. The penthouse unit had the highest ceilings ever with a massive balcony overlooking the living room. It was beautifully furnished, very high end, until we got to one room in particular. Inside that room was a wall to wall wrestling mat, making it look like a sports facility.

The owner led us to an attached room where a couple of guys looking very “Street-Wise” were throwing back some beers. The owner of the penthouse was David Hurles, one of the first reality porn moguls famous for the Old Reliable video line. David would pick up ex-cons, street hustlers, straight dudes looking for bucks and pay them pretty well to smoke cigars, wrestle, flex their muscles, flip off the camera and jack off. His collection feels very authentic… because it is! The guys are exactly what they portray on the screen, hard edged and a little frightening in a very HOT way! It felt a bit tense being around them, for me. David invited us to stay to watch him film, which I thought would have been amazing, but Scott declined, as we were on our way to San Diego.

 

Old Reliable movies and audio recordings

Old Reliable movies (DVD | Streaming) and Old Reliable audio recordings

 

Once in San Diego’s Seaport Village, we waited at a table for the potential new model to meet us. Adam Grant came walking up with a huge smile, great personality, and very excited at the prospect of being an exclusive model for Catalina. We talked, then went back to his apartment where Scott Masters got some hard shots of him (fattest dick ever) while I waited in the other room with his female roommate - awkward! He was cast to star in Head of the Class 2, which we ended up shooting in Palm Springs instead of David Hurles’ penthouse. When grooming the new star, Scott Masters went all out, taking Adam Grant to stylist of the stars José Eber's salon. Adam looked great after the makeover, but introducing him to Eber kind of backfired. Once Head of the Class 2 finished shooting, Adam Grant and Eber started a decades long relationship and Grant was no longer interested in becoming a Catalina Exclusive Model or shooting any more movies.

Scott Masters produced all of my and John Travis’ features from 1987 to 1992. Catalina ownership changed hands and Masters and Travis could not come to terms with a new contract and left the company. It was a huge loss for Catalina Video, and the same year they both started Studio 2000. I was offered the role of producer with Catalina, which I worked at until 2007 when the company was sold yet again. I’ll write much more about Scott and John, as there are so many adventures that need to be told. In 2020, Scott Masters passed away at the age of 86 in Bloomington, Illinois. He was one of the very first in our field, paving the way for adult photographers and filmmakers to come. His star shines bright in the skies like a supernova.

 

Nova DVDs

The Nova film collection - available through Bijou on DVD and Streaming

 

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

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