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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