Tag: Gay History

Pres. Obama’s China Summit at Sunnylands Estate Puts Spotlight on Interiors by Sunset Strip’s William Haines

William Haines interior at Sunnylands

William Haines interior at Sunnylands

The meeting between Pres. Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping today at the presidential resort, Sunnylands, in Palm Springs has drawn attention to the acclaimed design of the estate, which was originally the winter home of Walter and Lenore Annenberg:

Designed by the prolific Los Angeles architect A. Quincy Jones and the decorator William Haines and finished in 1966, Sunnylands was inspired by Mayan ruins even as it accommodated elements of Midcentury Modernism and the Annenbergs’ own Asian antiquities and lacquered furniture.

On a choice site with views of the Chocolate Mountains, the house in Rancho Mirage has been a center for high-powered entertaining from its earliest days. Guests included Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon — seven current or former presidents have visited Sunnylands in all — along with Queen Elizabeth, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra.

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Sunset Strip Nightclub Owner Jane Jones in 1938 B-Movie, ‘Port of Missing Girls’

Jane Jones singing in "Port of Missing Girls"

Jane Jones singing in “Port of Missing Girls”

This blurry still is from the video of the B movie “Port of Lost Girls,” from 1938 — see the video below the fold. The film offers a rare view of Jane Jones, proprietor of Jane Jones’ Little Club at 8740 Sunset Blvd., one of two lesbian-centric nightclubs on the Sunset Strip — the other was Cafe Internationale, at 8711 Sunset Blvd., owned by Elmer and Tess Wheeler — mentioned in Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics and Lipstick Lesbians, by Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons.

Faderman and Timmons describe the womens’ nightclubs on the as “in the tradition of the upscale nightclub, and they promoted an exotic glamour, much like the lesbian bars of Weimar Berlin.” Jones, they said, “was a big woman with a basso profundo voice who’d been a signer in movie musicals.”

(Read more about Jane Jones’ Little Club here and the closing of Tess Wheeler’s Cafe Internationale by the Navy during World War II here.)

Here’s the movie:

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Christopher Isherwood at Cafe Gala on the Strip, February 1943

Christopher Isherwood

“We went to Cafe Gala on the Strip. My farewell visit to the End of the Night. I haven’t been been to a place of this sort in ages, and it was so nostalgically reminiscent of all the other times — the baroque decorations and the cozy red velvet corners, the sharp-faced peroxide pianist with tender memories and a tongue like an adder, the grizzled tomcat tenor, the bitch with a heart of gold, the lame celebrity, the bar mimosa, the public lovers, the amazed millionaire tourist, the garlanded cow, the plumed serpent and the daydream sailor … I have loved them all very much and learnt something from each of them. I owe them many of my vividest moments of awareness. But enough is enough. And here we say goodbye.”

— Christopher Isherwood, writing in his diary on Feb. 3, 1943, after a visit to Cafe Gala, 1114 Horn Ave. [map] the eve of entering a Vedanta monastery on Ivar Avenue. (Diaries 1:265-66)

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