Monday, February 10, 2014

Star Room

Corner of Main and El Segundo today
Star Room

Location: Corner of Main and El Segundo, Los Angeles, California, USA

Opened: Mid 1950s

Closed: Open at least as late as 1968

From Remembering LA’s Earliest Lesbian Bars:

Star Room – Located between Watts and Gardena in an unincorporated portion of Los Angeles County, this was a “cruising bar” that attracted a more pink-collar clientele (teachers, secretaries, nurses, etc). Opened in the mid 1950s, owner Jo Heston had to marry a man in order to buy the bar because laws at that time didn’t allow women to own bars. The laws also prevented Heston from pouring liquor, so the bar had male bartenders.

The Star Room is also mention in Lillian Faderman's Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth Century America (1991):

At the Star Room, a lesbian bar on the outskirts of Los Angeles, women could dance but not too close. The manager would scrutinize the dance floor periodically with flashlight in hand. There had to be enough distance between a couple so that a beam from the flashlight could pass between them. In that way the owner hoped to avoid charges of disorderly conduct should there be any undercover agents among the patrons.

In Daniel Winunwe Rivers' Radical Relations: Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers, and Their Children in the United States (2013), we hear of a more supportive role that the Star Room played.

Barbara and Pearl were both married mothers--and PTA presidents--when they met in 1958. They fell in love, and embarked on a long-term secret affair. It was not until 1968, when their children were old enough to dodge a custody battle, that they decided to leave their husbands. It was then that Barbara

...moved into a room in the back of the Star Room, a lesbian bar in Los Angeles on the corner of Main and El Segundo. It was there, in a tough neighborhood, living in the back of a lesbian bar, that Barbara had her "life turned around."

1 comment:

  1. What a great piece in the Star Room! Thank you also for the astute use of my work on the history of lesbian mothers and gay fathers to show how critical these spaces were for people struggling to change their lives in the face of heterosexism. – Daniel W. Rivers


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.