Producers of ‘Studio One Forever’ Are Looking for People Who Had Been There

The producers of the “Studio One Forever” documentary are on the lookout for people who once were patrons of West Hollywood’s famous gay nightclub.

“Did you attend Studio One and/or The Backlot between 1974-1993?” the producers ask in a statement on Facebook.  “We are looking for self-tape testimonials to be considered for inclusion in the closing credits sequence. Several submissions may be invited to film an interview in Los Angeles to tell your story for the film.”

The producers of the documentary also are soliciting tax deductible donations to finance its completion. They hope to have it finished in October. The producers are Lloyd Coleman, Chris Isaacson, Gary Steinberg and Marc Saltarelli, who also is director.  Stephen Israel is the executive producer.

“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,” says a website for the project. “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.

Studio One was housed in a building known as the Factory on Robertson Boulevard south of Santa Monica Boulevard. The Factory has been demolished but much of it will be reconstructed on the site of the Robertson Lane hotel, restaurant and retail project of Faring, the local developer.

“With the historic preservation battle as a framework, the story of Scott Forbes’ Studio One and The Backlot will be told through firsthand accounts and anecdotes of the times. Famous and not famous voices will share personal recollections of the place and the times,” says a statement on the project website.

The documentary will include interviews with Bruce Vilanch, West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran, Melissa Rivers, and film historian David Del Valle. A trailer of the documentary suggests it won’t include the stories of racial discrimination and sexism by the Forbes, the club owner.

“Studio One doormen subjected African-Americans to a different admission requirement than whites, echoing Jim Crow,” said long time gay rights activist Don Kilhefner in an op-ed published by WEHOville. “White men did not have to show age/photo ID if doormen knew them and one piece if he didn’t, a driver’s license sufficing. African-American men had to show two pieces of age/photo ID, a driver’s license alone was insufficient. When gay black men quickly got hip to the racist jive going on, they would show up prepared with two pieces of age/photo ID. On the spot, they were then suddenly required to show three pieces of required age/photo ID, an almost impossible task for any of us. The ID scam was also used on women.”

Those who have a story to share are asked by the director to make a brief one to three minute video telling your story. It can include virtually any anecdote (funny or serious) that makes your Studio One/Backlot experience forever etched in your memory. If you attended during the 80’s/90’s and have someone who passed from AIDS that you would like to memorialize, please feel free to include them in your video. Also, if Covd-19 has brought back any memories from that era, please comment.

When you shoot your video, please shoot horizontally (side to side) not vertical. You can upload your video preferably via WeTransfer to:

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1 year ago

I went to the Factory a few times in the early 1990s and it was so-so OK.My go-to place at the time was Rage as the music was up-to-date and the bartenders were more attentive.As the Factory was set apart from the other places on Santa Monica Blvd.,I tended to overlook it when I planned to go out.

Now, the smaller places like Trunks and Hi-Tops are my favorite places to go,with the occasional visit to The Abbey.All before the start of this pandemic.

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