The Abbey, which is West Hollywood's best known gay bar and restaurant (a Southern California Legend, says John Duran, the city's mayor) has been sold by its owner to SBE Entertainment Group. SBE is owned by an Iranian billionaire, Sam Nazarian, a straight film producer and nightlife entrepreneur, who plans to open Abbeys in cities across the country. David Cooley, the former owner and founder of Abbey, is scouting for the best locations. "The gay nightlife industry seems to be in steep decline. During the past year, clubs such as New York's Roxy and Boston's Avalon have closed. Bar owners say the Internet is slowly killing their business as cruising continues its migration to the virtual realm; and a new generation, coming out to an increasingly accepting - or at least (in marketing terms) 'gay-friendly' - world seems neither to need nor want to socialize primarily at gay bars. Cooley believes the Abbey, as a national brand, could reinvigorate gay nightlife - and his strategy for doing so appears to involve toning down the avowedly gay part of that experience. But how straight-acting does gay nightlife need to be in order to survive?" asks the author of the article in Out magazine which features the story. He seems to bring a rather ambiguous answer when he concludes the article: "Cooley shows up for dinner at the Abbey at 8 p.m. one night, accompanied by Felix, and undergraduate from Frankfurt, Germany, now studying at a Christian college in Orange County on a tennis scholarship. 'Felix is straight,' David says. Under the table, his hand is on Felix's knee. Felix affirms in a choppy German accent, 'Yes, I am straight. I come to the Abbey with all my straight friends. It is not just a gay bar.' When Felix excuses himself for a cigarette, Cooley's eyes follow the young man across the bar. There is no way not to ask: Um David? Felix is... straight? Flashing a smile almost as bright as the German's, Cooley says, 'We have our fun'."
The Axel Hotel, which opened last November in Buenos Aires, is the first Latin America luxury hotel built with gay customers in mind. The capital of Argentina has become probably the most gay-friendly city in Latin America, since the social mores started loosening in the 90s. "After Argentina plunged into economic chaos in late 2001, discrimination based on sexual orientation seemed to many like a petty concern. 'When people are eating out of garbage cans it really doesn't matter if you are gay or not,' says Osvaldo Bazan, a journalist and the author of History of Homosexuality in Argentina From the Conquest of America to the 21st Century," reports the New York Times, without convincing me. The hotel was built by Juan Julia, an entrepreneur from Barcelona where the first Axel Hotel opened three years ago. It is self-billed as 'hetero-friendly', reflecting the new trend in gay entertainment.
In its last Sunday edition the Idaho Statesman published an article providing a detailed account of the sexual encounters between Larry Craig and several men, one of which dates to his college days. Craig is the senior senator from Idaho who said last August that he was not gay and had never been gay, after Roll Call, a Washington newspaper, unveiled that he had been arrested in June by an undercover police officer for soliciting sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. The Idaho Statesman article is quite fascinating because it gives a precise and unusual description of casual encounters between men who seek sex with men.
In the same order of things, and also fascinating, is the story published this week in the New York Times business section, of a 44 year old Hedge Fund manager Seth Tobias, who was found dead in the pool of his West Palm Beach home last September. Initially the police concluded to a heart attack. Now, in a nasty dispute over his estate, the Tobias brothers are accusing Seth's wife of murdering him: she would have drugged him and lured him into the pool by promising him sex with a male go-go dancer, nick-named Tiger, he presumably met at Cupids, a gay bar he secretly frequented with his wife in West Palm Beach. Worth reading! I will try to keep you posted.