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Queery: Erick Velasco and Jose Resendez

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Erick Velasco and Jose Resendez. (Photo courtesy Club Cobra)

When Clubs Cobra and Chico Co-Owner, Marty Sokol, conceived the idea of creating a podcast that would be an extension of his clubs and provide a voice for Gay Latinos particularly from neighborhoods that were traditionally underrepresented, it didn’t take long for him to choose who he wanted to lead it. Erick Velasco also known as the Homo Homie from the East Side of LA was the perfect face of the brand and truly represented how Chico in Montebello had come about in the first place.

Velasco, an LA Native and a frequent nightclub attendee realized this would be a great thing for the Gay Latino community as well as the LGBTQ+ Latino community overall. He knew he needed a strong co-host with experience in media and pop culture – enter Jose Resendez, a recent Miami transplant who was no stranger to the world of podcasts, social media and how to get a great interview out of a guest. Where Velasco provided that LA flavor from the community, Resendez brought the business expertise.

The two colleagues kicked off season 1 of the successful podcast in October of 2019 and released new episodes through February up until sheltering in place was put in motion.
From episodes ranging from Gay Dads, Fitness, Entertainment, Politics,Transgender and Undocumented issues to even a JLO themed episode, these co-hosts were able to tap into different slices of the Latino LGBTQ+ community and brought the education, laughter and tears along the way.

But when Covid-19 hit, not even these two heroes of our community were immune. Resendez contracted the virus shortly after they had gone on hiatus. What started off to being a 3- month break turned into a 6 month break. He is now fully recovered and back at work gearing up for the rest of the year.

With a break under their belt and a library of a first season podcast episodes currently available to binge, the duo is now ready to launch season 2 and is looking forward to bringing in new faces from the community from all walks of life to further show our diversity. I caught up with the Homo Homies to get a little more insight of what makes them tick and how their identity and passion truly reflects the Latino LGBTQ+ community – a community that doesn’t just follow trends – they SET them.

Los Angeles Blade // Queery Q&A

The Homo Homie Podcast (@TheHomoHomiePodcast)

Host: Erick Velasco (@TheHomoHomie)

Co-Host: Jose Resendez (@TheJoseResendez)

Who’s your LGBTQ hero?

There’s so many to choose from! But during these revolutionary times for social justice, we would have to say Ashlee Marie Preston — a passionate Black transgender woman who’s making her voice heard & who we really hope to have on The Homo Homie Podcast one day! Ashlee advocates for the LGBTQ+ community by using her platform to bring awareness & believes that we can’t heal what we don’t reveal — such as addressing anti-Blackness within our own queer community.

Who’s Your Latino or Latina Hero?

We have to give it up to mami y papi. As proud Latinos we’re raised to honor our ancestors, elders, & parents! They teach us the importance of family, knowing we can count on them to be there for us. They help us understand you can have a lot with so little. They show us how to earn & give respect. To take pride in our heritage & where we come from, to continue to speak Spanish, to recognize the power in being bilingual. (Erick is Mexican, Jose is Guatemalan & Mexican.) And we can’t forget our modern-day Latinx hero, AOC — we love powerful mujeres that are always reppin’ our barrios!

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?

The Homo Homie Podcast’s first season was all recorded at Club Cobra in North Hollywood, so that was our spot! LA has such a diverse offering when it comes to safe queer spaces — we tend to go where everybody treats you like family & where the atmosphere is off the hook. When it’s safe we say to check out Club Chico in East LA & Trunks in WeHo — we know the staff there, they welcome us with open arms, have great music & good a** dranks!

What non-LGBTQ issue are you most passionate about?

Well, we take into consideration many to be honest. We’re passionate about women’s equality, immigration reform, & fighting for the Black community. We stand by the Black Lives Matter movement & will continue to help amplify Black voices on The Homo Homie Podcast as well. We acknowledge that every issue coincides with LGBTQ+ rights, because where one progresses, we all progress.

What historical outcome would you change?

Jose would say the tragic loss of Selena Quintanilla, however we would definitely change the outcome of our last presidential election. We’d take back that day real quick! We highly encourage all of our podcast listeners to help us vote Donald Trump out of the White House this year. Remember to register to vote now & help us make history together!

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment in your opinion?

Probably the JLo & Shakira halftime show at the Super Bowl — we didn’t know it back then but it was pretty much the closing ceremony for the end of the world at this point! But in all seriousness we want to highlight the moment Britney Spears shaved her head, especially now that the #FreeBritney movement has gone mainstream — the light that has been shed on mental health & human legal rights due to her conservatorship is invaluable. Another memorable pop culture moment is when Ricky Martin came out as a proud gay man, that was big for Latinos around the world!

Who in the Media or Journalism field do you admire?

We admire Anderson Cooper. Always has his facts straight (no pun intended), knows how to gauge a conversation, is not afraid to call out a guest & has been a voice of reasoning lately for Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Did we mention he’s super sexy with that silver hair? Anderson has been an influential LGBTQ+ staple in our community & has represented us so well in the media industry.

On what do you insist?

Testing! Voting! We insist on many things. Getting tested for HIV/STI & knowing your status is responsible, we insist you reach out to your local resources for help such as the LGBT Center, Reach LA, & Out of The Closet locations. We insist that you do your part in voting & educating yourself on all the candidates — this year is so important for POC. Also, we insist you subscribe to our podcast to learn more about ways to get involved, be active in your community, whether via social media or by physically volunteering, it takes a village!

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

Erick’s book would be called “A Jack of All Trades & Master of None” because he has so many tricks up his sleeve & is such a curious type of person that loves to continue to always learn in life! Jose’s book would be titled “Amigas y Rivales” after an iconic Mexican soap opera or maybe “Mean Girls” — do we see a pattern here? Feels like our lives are shaped by the people around us, from friends & family to non-supporters alike.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

We’re both big on energy for sure! Erick is more spiritual, believes in the after life, the supernatural, the paranormal & loves watching Ghost Adventures. Jose is more of a science guy, has to see it to believe it! Either way, it’s fascinating to know that we are not the only ones here…right?

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

To stop and really analyze the way they try to get their points across to others. There’s always more than one way & they must take the time & patience to put themselves in that person’s shoes In order for them to understand.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

We both immediately said a million dollars, ha! Erick will walk across hot coals for family, it shows strength & courage for them. Jose says for world peace, period.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

Probably when people seem to think all gays went to beauty school in the womb & can do hair/makeup. Gays in media & entertainment are usually portrayed as the hairstylist, the makeup artist, the fashion designer, the flamboyant vanity person, which there’s nothing wrong with being that person, but the reality is that gay men hold it down in boardrooms, sports fields, military, on stage & in classrooms — we’re everywhere!

What’s your favorite LGBTQ+ movie?

For Erick it has to be Quinceanera — watching it was the first time we saw urban gay Latin representation that really hit home with cultural roots; nothing is better than a movie that you can relate too & actually see yourself in. Jose can’t decide between The Bird Cage & Moonlight — both taking place in Miami where he moved to LA from.

Who’s your favorite female pop star?

Right now it has to be Cardi B, okurrrrr! An artist that truly defines making it from the bottom to the top. She’s unapologetically herself no matter what, isn’t afraid to speak her mind, has broken barriers, created chart topping hits, is a proud Afro Latina & is literally bringing back Pu**y Power.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

For some reason this always ties back to money! Learning at a young age what it is to establish credit, how to invest into real-estate, understanding stocks, & probably avoiding student loans if possible. There’s many scholarships out there to help aid in financing your education, especially when it comes to diversity & inclusion.

Why Los Angeles?

LA is a place you can always call home — it’s a place with vast cultural diversity. For Erick, born & raised in LA has shaped him to be the man he is today. After living in Texas & Florida, Jose now calls LA home, a place he hopes to continue establishing himself as an entertainment communications pro in the US Latin market. The Homo Homies hope to run into you all in LA soon!

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Arts & Entertainment

West Hollywood’s ‘Out On Robertson’ official launch

The Robertson program is having its official ribbon-cutting ceremony, Saturday, May 1, 2020, at 7 p.m.

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Soft launch of OUT on Robertson, April 17, 2021 (Screenshot via KCBS LA)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath, Mayor Pro Tempore Lauren Meister, and city council members John D’Amico, John M. Erickson, and Sepi Shyne are set to celebrate the official launch and ribbon cutting of WeHo’s OUT on Robertson program May 1.

Because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local businesses, especially restaurants, in August 2020, the City began its Temporary Outdoor Expansion Permit program, known as OUT Zones, by offering streamlined approval for businesses to use sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and private parking lots as areas to expand operations.

Starting Saturday, April 17, the City expanded that program with a ‘soft launch’ of OUT on Robertson, a pilot program that closes N. Robertson Boulevard south of Santa Monica Boulevard and north of Melrose Avenue to vehicular traffic each Saturday and Sunday, between 6 p.m. on Saturday and late-night on Sunday, in order to transform the restaurant/retail area into a pedestrian zone with COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Closing this highly trafficked and bustling stretch of Robertson will provide a pedestrian-safe space that allows for appropriate social distancing as the Public Health Department eases capacity restrictions while still monitoring the spread of the virus,” said City of West Hollywood Councilmember John M. Erickson. “COVID is not over and we all must remain vigilant about protecting our own health, and the health of others. I’m looking forward to safely seeing you — at a distance and with your most fabulous masks on — OUT on Robertson!”

The Robertson program is having its official ribbon-cutting ceremony, Saturday, May 1, 2020, at 7 p.m. 

OUT on Robertson will embrace, on weekends, what compact OUT Zones throughout the City have been offering for months: a place to enjoy sunny days and balmy nights while maintaining social distance, aligning with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s health and safety protocols, and supporting community businesses.

People exploring West Hollywood’s OUT on Robertson are reminded that the City of West Hollywood has a mandatory face-covering requirement and people are urged to be mindful of maintaining six feet of social distancing for dining, shopping, and personal care under the sun and stars

Plentiful parking is available in the five-story West Hollywood Park structure located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard, adjacent to the West Hollywood Library. Additional parking is also available at 650 N. La Peer Drive. For those using rideshare services, the City has established Drop Zones at the corner of Melrose Avenue and N. Robertson Boulevard.

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Bars & Parties

33 Taps Owner Ryan Floyd has Big Plans

33 Taps will now be a part of the official Silverlake gay bar crawl

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Courtesy of Ryan Floyd

WEST HOLLYWOOD Ryan Floyd signed the contract for his first restaurant after working for 10 years in LA as a  finance guy. He said he hit the decade mark and realized, “I want to do something on my own.” He liked the industry, and knew the business side after working as CFO for a successful restaurant development and management firm. Now, after more than a year in lockdown, he’s got big things planned for his spot 33 Taps, and his next venture, Stache in West Hollywood.

In 2016, Floyd bought a storied beer bar and country diner once known as The Crest on Sunset, making him the third consecutive gay owner of the location. The Crest on Sunset had been running since the late-1980s, with a loyal local clientele – most of the staff was gay, most of the customers were gay. “A friend brought it to me and I thought, this could be a good step for me,” Floyd explained, “I bought the assets and license and rebranded it as 33 Taps.” 

33 Taps formally opened in September 2016, and will celebrate its five-year anniversary in the fall. “The first year was really stressful,” Floyd remembers, “we were under capitalized. I lost money for the first six, seven months. It was scary.” The former investment banker had sunk all his own cash into the business, and it wasn’t until the end of 2017 that 33 Taps began to find its footing, and its niche. 

Floyd credits his team for the longevity of the spot, and for helping keep the business open during its first year and all the years that followed. Many of the employees had even been at that location before the sale – the general manager at 33 Taps, Peaches, has been working at the address for more than 30 years.

Before the pandemic hit, business was good. “Seventy-five percent of our patrons are local,” Floyd said proudly. “We’ve really established ourselves as a place where people love to watch LA sports — the Dodgers, the Lakers, the Rams. And we also have a huge Drag Race following.” The bar finally returned to its weekly Drag Race viewing parties just in time for the grand finale episode last Friday. According to Floyd, more than a third of the clientele is LGBTQ. 

As Los Angeles slowly begins to reopen, and businesses and bars can welcome back customers, 33 Taps is greeting the post-COVID world with some new changes. “During the pandemic I had entered the liquor license lottery.” For businesses hoping for a budget break, the State of California holds a yearly liquor license lottery in which restaurants and bars can try their luck at a discounted license. “The state will issue however many licenses they think the market should absorb. You can buy those licenses for $15,000, which is a full liquor license — a type 47. Whereas on the open market, prices go from $100,000-$120,000.” It was his fourth year entering the lottery, and his first time winning. It took the state months to process the license, but it finally issued 3725 Sunset Blvd. its first-ever liquor license. It’ll be the first time in 40 years that the location will have a full bar.

A numbers man, Floyd explained an added benefit of a liquor license kicking in now. “Beer and spirits go through cycles. Beer had a very long, 10-year run. In 2005, there were 300 breweries in the United States, and now there’s over 5,000.” Floyd recites these statistics with a sportscaster’s excitement, “beer had this huge run, but now spirits have taken the lead again.” With the city’s reopening looking more and more optimistic, and more and more people wanting to celebrate big after a year in their living rooms – the new liquor license could not be better timed. “We want to program our Friday and Saturday nights. We’ve never been open beyond 11 o’clock, now we can stay open until 1 a.m. and actually have a bar crowd.” He’s lining up a slew of parties, bringing some much needed queer nightlife programming to the Silverlake scene. 

33 Taps will now be a part of the official Silverlake gay bar crawl, for all those on their way to dance at Akbar or a party at The Eagle. It rounds out the trio, offering its own flare – a modern neighborhood restaurant and sports bar. 

Each spot brings something different to the table. Akbar is beloved for its brand of queer punk quirk; the also beloved Eagle offers its loyal leather-clad following the gritty gay bar of years past. 33 Taps is the grad-school jock of the group, a lovable charm and an always here for a good time attitude. Floyd offered the elevator pitch: “You can listen to great music, drink from a full bar and also have some great food.” The 33 Taps food menu has always been one of its strongest assets, offering customers a chef-driven menu of craft burgers and fries. A top-notch bite at a gay bar is hard to come by, and the plates at 33 Taps put most bar menus to shame. 

He teased a few details of his highly anticipated new venture: Stache. Coming to West Hollywood this summer, Stache is lucratively situated across the street from Beaches and TomTom, and down the block from Weho heavy-hitters, Rocco’s and The Abbey. “Stache will also be a full restaurant and full bar, with a nightlife component as well,” Floyd shared. While he can’t reveal plans just yet, he promises big monthly parties, disco and drag. The new website, stacheweho.com, describes Stache as, “an all-inclusive social house for every form of self-expression.” The site also attributes the mustache in the name and logo as a symbol of resilience in the gay community, honoring those lost to the AIDS epidemic.

After the closing of so many iconic LA gay bars during the pandemic, Ryan Floyd’s Stache is a welcome addition to the WeHo strip.

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a&e features

Lance Bass set to open WeHo mega nightclub

Rage closed its doors permanently in September of 2020, after a near four decade run

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Former NSYNC boy band member and Roccos’s co-owner Lance Bass being interviewed by West Hollywood boutique luxury property Real Estate broker Yawar Charlie in 2019
(Screenshot via YouTube)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Former NSYNC boy band member Lance Bass, 41, announced last week his latest venture – opening the biggest gay club in the United States. Bass signed the lease to rent 8911 Santa Monica Blvd, moving in to the space formerly occupied by the 37-year old Rage bar.

Bass’s company has yet to release the name, and no official opening date has been announced, however a minimalist website titled WeHoMegaClub.com promises that the new club will be “the biggest gay nightclub in the USA”.

Bass’s new bar is the most recently announced in an exciting new string of Weho bars. The glittering lineup includes Stache, from the charismatic founder of the Silverlake beer bar 33 Taps, and the rebirth of of Covid-casualty, Gym Bar, which will be neighbors with Bass’s new Mega Club.

The news of Bass’s new venture comes just two years after the launch of Rocco’s Tavern, the successful restaurant and bar he co-owns with three other partners. Complete with a wrap around outdoor patio, enviably large stage and food that’s….passable, Rocco’s opened to instant popularity in May of 2019, and became a go-to watering hole.

Sitting at 8900 Santa Monica Blvd, replacing a dilapidated Bank of America, and breathing new life into one of most lucrative corners of the ‘Boystown’ bar crawl. Roccos’s became known for its buzzing Sunday afternoons, lively drag performances and raunchy go-go dancers.

Recently re-opened after conducting a full scale makeover of their back lot, you can reserves cabanas and tables online for ‘Rocco’s Paradise’ (aka brunch). Since its opening, Rocco’s has operated at maximum capacity, its crowds providing a stark contrast to those across the street. The purchasing of the old Rage bar certainly makes for a convenient commute for Bass. Rocco’s and the now-closed Rage sit across the street from one another, two households both alike in dignity. 

Rage closed its doors permanently in September of 2020, after a near four decade run. Opened in 1983 by Robert Maghame and Saeed Sattari, neither LGBT identifying, Rage catered to a wide variety of customers and served as the neighborhood’s only 18+ club. Yet during the pandemic they stated in a press release that they were unable to negotiate a lease renewal.

In an interview with local tabloid the WeHo Times, the longtime general manager at Rage, Ron Madril, said “I knew it was happening with us being closed for so long, not having any income and the rent being very high. The building is owned by West Hollywood’s ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’, notoriously unforgiving landlord Monte Overstreet.” 

The inflexible Overstreet is the man behind the closing of many of gay LA’s mainstay. In the past year, he has shut down three decade old favorites. In August of 2020, Faming Saddles, the wildly popular cowboy themed dance bar, was the first to close up shop. In the following months

Overstreet closed Gold Coast, a 40 year old classic with a loyal clientele, and Oil Can Harry’s, a 52 year old Studio City institution, were also forced to shut their doors by Overstreet. Each of the bars cited issues with the landlord and pricey rental renegotiations, rumors even floated of Overstreet raising prices during the pandemic. 

Yet the closing of Rage surprised little. In the past several years Rage fluctuated in popularity, failing to draw any sort of a crowd most nights. Though they kept a consistent following on some theme nights, Rage mostly sat as if it were a showroom of chairs and tables.

But Rage bar’s 37-year run is nothing to be scoffed at, it was founded when its location’s new owner [Bass] was 4 years old.

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