If I reference “Paris is Burning” Or “Noah’s Arc,” and you know I’m talking about… keep reading.
– Paris is Burning
If not, this article may not be for you. 😀
When I found Paris is Burning on Youtube, I didn’t “stumble” upon it. I was hired as a youtube personality (a decade ago) and my mentor suggested it. Before this film, I searched “black and gay” on Youtube over and over again, hoping to find a community.
Through works like this and Noah’s Arc, I was able to learn how to be unapologetic.
I also learned how to articulate my shared experience. I was lucky, there were two black gay clubs within an hour, and NYC was only a long train ride away. Wish I had a Zipcar back then.
Sadly, Los Angeles no longer has what I had access to in 2007. Take a look.
Back in the 1970’s Ms. Jewel started Catch One, America’s oldest black-owned nightclub. Definitely the first in LA. It was frequented by celebrities such as Madonna, and according to the documentary, people would travel for miles hoping to see a celebrity.
What resulted was an incredibly open environment curated by a bad-ass black woman. It held some spirit of the city and walking by the building today is still powerful. If you have a chance, check out Jewel’s Catch One. It’s owners have changed, and it caters to different interests, but it’s our history and it’s a great stop for a quick visit.
Youtube – Trailer Jewel’s Catch One on Netflix – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH-Uug1dy-k
Just as with Paris is Burning. I didn’t find Jewel’s on my own, even though I’m an expert googler for events. I found the Netflix documentary while preparing for this story. I was in an Uber and had a great conversation with an older black gay man. He told me of its heyday, of how great it was to see Ms. Jewel… and he told me of our lost generation. The generation of phenomenal black gay men who died here in the 80’s and 90’s due to complications from HIV/AIDs.
He explained that it was he and his friends that visited the club all of the time, and they didn’t have the opportunity to pass knowledge, resources, and traditions to the next generation. My generation. Passing by Jewel’s Catch One brought him to tears. I only hope that the spirit of Jewel’s continues to nurture the Talent and success of LGBT Youth of LA.