SF supervisors' panel advances liquor license for Stud Bar as collective plans fundraising telethon

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday November 9, 2023
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Honey Mahogany spoke at a September 5 news conference announcing the new location of the Stud Bar as Mayor London Breed applauds. Photo: John Ferrannini
Honey Mahogany spoke at a September 5 news conference announcing the new location of the Stud Bar as Mayor London Breed applauds. Photo: John Ferrannini

A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee unanimously approved a liquor license for The Stud — a necessary precondition before the iconic LGBTQ nightclub can open its new location in the South of Market neighborhood — just as the bar's owners announced a telethon at the Castro Theatre to raise funds.

"This was one of the nation's most famed drag bars and one of the city's oldest LGBTQ+ establishments, so I want to do what I can to support this," said gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey, a member of the board's public safety and neighborhood safety committee. His district includes the nightclub's new location at 1123 Folsom Street. "I remember this from my drinking days — that's how long ago that was."

Dorsey himself is a recovering addict, as he has talked about regularly.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, The Stud closed its location at Harrison and Ninth streets — where it'd been since 1987 — in 2020. However, the co-op collective that had bought the bar in 2016 vowed it would return.

That return was announced at a news conference outside the new location September 5, along with a campaign to raise $500,000 and hopes for a winter 2024 reopening. The online fundraiser's webpage shows $56,807 has been raised thus far.

Nate Allbee, one of the members of the collective, told the B.A.R. that "we're still planning to open at the end of winter or early spring" next year.

"We still need to raise funds to build out the interior: create a stage, green rooms, and dance floor," he stated. "We have a telethon planned for the end of January. And we're currently looking for some hot daddies or mommas with money to invest who want to help save one of the most famous gay bars in the country."

Allbee stated the telethon will stream online and also be live at the Castro Theatre. David Perry, a gay man who is a spokesperson for Another Planet Entertainment, which manages the theater, confirmed Allbee's information to the B.A.R. November 9, and said more information would be forthcoming later.

Allbee stated that $200,000 of the $500,000 has been raised in total, including contributions through the webpage and other donations.

During the supervisors' committee meeting, the San Francisco Police Department voiced no objection to granting the license. There were no letters of support or objection that'd been received.

Rachel Ryan, president of the Stud Collective and general manager, thanked Dorsey for his efforts. As the B.A.R. previously reported, he shepherded legislation allowing for new nighttime entertainment on Folsom Street between Seventh and Division streets through the Board of Supervisors even though his election opponent at the time, Honey Mahogany, is also a member of the collective. Mahogany, a Black trans person, serves as chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party and is district director for Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco).

Ryan said that this marks a homecoming for the Stud, whose original home was on Folsom Street, between 11th and 12th streets. At a time when other South of Market bars wouldn't welcome people outside the leather scene, "the Stud set itself apart by welcoming everyone," Ryan noted.

But it was during the era of the late drag artist Heklina's Trannyshack (later Mother) parties that the Stud made its greatest impact on drag culture, Ryan said. Stefan Grygelko, better known as Heklina, died suddenly in London April 3.

"We hope by securing this new space we can help keep San Francisco's oldest queer bar around for generations to come," Ryan concluded.

Kevin Clark, a 21-year resident of the neighborhood, spoke during public comment.

"I would like to heartily say we are very excited about the Stud's return and we welcome them with open arms," Clark said. Two others who described themselves as living on Langton Street, adjacent to the new location, also spoke to agree.

District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani, a straight ally and chair of the committee, said that the panel often considers liquor licenses and in this case "we got it on as quickly as we could because we are very excited."

The committee voted 3-0 (the third committee member is gay District 4 Supervisor Joel Engardio) to forward the item to the full Board of Supervisors.

Updated, 11/9/23: This article has been updated with comments from Another Planet Entertainment.

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