L.A. Gay Nightlife Lives On in Trailer for New Doc “Studio One Forever”

The West Hollywood club saw the rise and fall of disco—and the darkest days of the AIDS crisis.

We can’t go out clubbing right now, so watching documentaries about the heyday of gay nightlife is the next best thing.

Everyone knows New York City’s infamous glitzy hangout Studio 54, but Los Angeles had its own version of the fabulous club frequented by gay celebs and allies: Studio One in West Hollywood.

The nightclub and its attached music venue, The Backlot, opened in 1974. Despite its popularity, Studio One closed its doors in 1994 after the AIDS crisis decimated the gay community.

A new documentary, Studio One Forever, aims to document the history of the club with stories from those who were there.

“For a generation of gay men who came of age during the era of Scott Forbes’ Studio One, the significance of the club and the turbulence of the times hold a profound place in their hearts and minds,” reads the official description for Studio One Forever, which is currently in production. “From 1974-1994, the club saw the rise of the gay rights movement, the rise and fall of disco and the darkest days of the AIDS crisis when the club became ground zero for AIDS activism. Climbing the staircase and entering the hallowed hall gave its young LGBTQ patrons a sense of freedom and acceptance during a time of rampant homophobia and police harassment. Young gay men would find a sense of community and safety here.”

Film Collaborative

Studio One and The Backlot became hotspots for Hollywood icons like Liza Minnelli, Eartha Kitt, and Rosie O’Donnell. Joan Rivers even hosted an AIDS fundraiser there, and up-and-coming music acts like disco diva Sylvester also performed at the venue.

“Studio One was planned, designed and conceived for gay people, gay male people,” Forbes said. “Any straight people here are guests of the gay community. This is gay!”

Now, 26 years after Studio One’s closure, the building is scheduled for demolition. Upon hearing the news, West Hollywood residents became outraged, and the fight to save a piece of L.A. gay history began.

According to the trailer’s YouTube description, Studio One Forever is a “work-in-progress with many more interviews to be shot once the quarantine has been lifted.” The doc’s filmmakers are asking for donations to fund the completion of the movie, tentatively scheduled for a fall 2020 release.

Put on your dancing shoes, and check out the first trailer for Studio One Forever below.
 

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."
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