Last month Bay Area Reporter writer Michael Flanagan got in touch with me seeking information about a cross-dressing performance venue in West Hollywood back in the day. Specifically, he was attempting to verify the late Laverne Cummings’ story that he (as Laverne referred to himself) got his start in a club in West Hollywood owned by Mickey Cohen. Here’s an excerpt:

Paul Laverne Cummings was born in Santa Ana in 1927. In a 1977 article in the San Francisco Examiner he related how he got his start.

“When I was in high school I was in the choir,” he said. “I was always told to sing lower, but I wanted to be a soprano. After high school, some friends took me to audition at the Club Continental, a gay night club owned by Mickey Cohen.”

I contacted Jon Ponder, editor of Sunset Strip history site Playground to the Stars ( to ask about Cohen and L.A. female impersonator bars.

Ponder told me that the Continental was not gay and did not feature cross-dressing acts and it is more likely that Cummings performed at the Flamingo Club (1027 N. La Brea), which it is suspected Cohen controlled. The Flamingo Club closed in 1951, after Cummings had left for Florida.