The Stud, The City’s oldest gay bar, is vacating its longtime home at Ninth and Harrison streets at the end of May. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF’s historic Stud to close down in style with drag funeral

Venue plans to shift to online and mobile operations and eventually reopen at new location

San Francisco’s beloved LGBTQ bar The Stud has reached the end of an era.

“We’ve had some amazing times, have been blessed to have been at the epicenter of San Francisco nightlife,” said Honey Mahogany, a drag artist and member of the collective that owns the historic South of Market venue, at an online news conference Thursday.

The club, which was established in 1966 and moved to its current location at the corner of Ninth and Harrison streets in 1987, will close on May 31 due to financial strain in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a previous statement posted by Marke Bieschke, a co-owner of The Stud and publisher and arts editor of 48 Hills, The Stud plans to continue operating as a virtual and mobile entity with the eventual goal of reopening a permanent location.

But while the ownership group is committed to continuing the legacy of The Stud, Mahogany added Thursday, “This is real. We have no plan to move to another venue.”

Honey Mahogany, a worker-owner at the Stud, said ‘this is real” at a press conference Thursday. (Screenshot via Zoom)

Despite an accommodating landlord, which ultimately agreed to let them out of their lease, The Stud’s owners could not continue to accrue a $440-per-day debt as the club sits empty during the health crisis.

“It’s a day of loss for San Francisco,” said drag performer Vivvyanne ForeverMore, another co-owner, who said the venue has been not just a business creating jobs, but a source of opportunity, and an important home for the LGBTQ community. Through the years, it’s hosted performers from Etta James to Sylvester to Lady Gaga, as well as The City’s most luscious, active drag queens.

“We’ve been rubbing our stink all over,” said ForeverMore.

As the owners begin figuring out ways to raise an estimated $1 million toward finding and funding a new location, ForeverMore said The Stud will retain its vibrant online community.

VivvyAnne ForeverMore, a worker-owner at The Stud, speaks at a virtual conference about the legendary gay bar’s May 31 closure. (Screenshot via Zoom)
VivvyAnne ForeverMORE, a worker-owner at the Stud, speaks at a virtual press conference on Thursday, May 21, 2020. (Screenshot via Zoom)

As Rachel Ryan, another Stud co-owner, said, “We are going to keep fighting until we find a new space.”

It’s going to go out in style, starting at 6 p.m. on May 31, when the venue will host a drag funeral, including live and recorded content, with remembrances and eulogies, followed by performances. Forevermore said “anyone who wants to” is invited to appear, and that guests are encouraged to dress up and wear black. (For information, visit the studsf.com.)

Supervisor Matt Haney, who called the closure “a loss for the LBGTQ community and the entire city,” and state Sen. Scott Wiener said they will work with local and state government to do everything in their power to ensure The Stud returns.

Wiener said, “This is a sad and tragic day, but I’m optimistic. This collective is going to get it done.” Mentioning that The City’s club scene has survived AIDS and high real estate prices in the past, he pointed to the need to create strong policies to help the hospitality industry, incuding efforts to lower or defer rents and change rules concerning serving alcohol and extending hours.

While ForeverMore said that friends easily can support The Stud by continuing to check out scheduled online shows and donate, Joshua Rotter, a fan of the bar who produced what he believes was San Francisco’s first 90s club night at The Stud in 2008, said, “You can’t replicate The Stud. It’s never going to be the same; that space houses all the history, and the ghosts.” But he added, “The Stud was really good about taking risks.”

State Sen. Scott Wiener said there was a need for policies to help the hospitality and nightlife industry, incuding efforts to lower or defer rents and change rules concerning serving alcohol and extending hours.. (Screenshot via Zoom)

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