When San Francisco’s bars and clubs reopen, The Stud, the city’s oldest, continuously operated queer bar, may be among them — but not in its longtime, kitsch-cluttered home at 399 Ninth St.
The collective that operates the club announced late Wednesday that members have decided to shutter the current location at Ninth and Harrison streets in SoMa, the bar’s home since 1987. Honey Mahogany, one of the co-op members, confirmed for The Chronicle that they still planned to look for a new home for the 54-year-old bar.
In the meantime, they plan to continue their online operations, which include a queer history podcast and weekly online drag showcase.
“The Stud, the nightlife entity, is not dead,” wrote another co-owner, Marke B., on the alternative S.F. news site 48 Hills. “We’re still going to come back when this is over — a different space with the same lovingly outrageous vibe.”
The move itself is not entirely surprising. The bar almost closed in 2016 due to a rent increase but was saved by a group of patrons who rallied and reworked the Stud as a cooperative. That collective has been on the lookout for a new spot for almost as long as they have had ownership of the space. The bar’s rent has been prohibitively expensive for years. When Michael McElhaney, the previous owner, put it up for sale then, he said the rent was $3,800 a month.
Among the city’s many gay bars, the Stud has long had a reputation as a home for an alternative queer scene, one that is deliberately open to all.
“On any given night you’ll see men in leather, punks with pink hair and even women,” read a 1980 article in Drummer magazine. “But the mix works fabulously and the Stud remains one of the dominant dance bars in a city famous for its discos and clubs.”
Etta James performed there; Sylvester, Bjork, Lady Gaga and RuPaul too. Through the years, the Stud’s stage has been home to a wide range of experimental music and performance. And more recently, after the collective took control of the bar, it seemed to enter a new renaissance.
The Stud proved it could survive a move when it moved from its original location on Folsom Street in 1987, and it has no shortage of local political support. Both state Sen. Scott Wiener and city Supervisor Matt Haney are planning to attend the Stud’s news conference set for 2 p.m. Thursday, during which the bar’s owners plan to map out the Stud’s future.
A “drag funeral” to “honor the end of an era of LGBT nightlife” is scheduled for May 31.
San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Matt Kawahara contributed to this report.