The Gino's II Story
Many of you have heard of the legendary Hollywood after hours night club called Gino's. But I assure you, if you weren’t there you have no idea what you missed or what Gino's was all about. It is my intention to try, to the best of my ability to shed some light on this legendary after hours Hollywood hot spot. Gino's I opened in 1976 and was a popular gay punk hang out. But in 1977 the original location burned down and Gino’s I was no more. In 1978 Gino re-opened his nightclub at 1132 Vine St. in Hollywood and called it Gino’s II. Again, a popular hangout for the gay community. It was your typical gay bar with one huge exception, the d.j., Mr. Michael Angelo, their resident d.j Friday and Saturday nights.
Michaels mixing skills were average, but his ability so sniff out and find awsome new tracks was unbelievable! They weren’t all new, he also rediscovered flops from several years earlier and reintroduced them into the club scene at Ginos making them very successful in the after hours circuit. Hits such as Disco Connection by Isaac Haayes from 1975, and Sweet Lucy by Raul De Souza from 1977 flopped originally but were a hit at Gino’s. He also discovered music that was right in front of our faces from albums many of us could get at Music Plus such as "Just As Long As We Are Together" by Prince which is on the Prince for You LP. He would only play the second half of this particular song, we all thought it was another one of his rare imports, but was in front of us all the time.
Now, Michael was not solely responsible for all of the music, he was inspired as well as assisted by another legendary d.j by the name of Bobby Viteritti whom was the resident d.j at the famous Trocadero nightclub in San Fransisco. Bobby is well known in the music industry and did famous remixes we all know such as the Magnifique remix on Disconet. Michael Angelo was also secretive with his songs and would go to extreme measures to keep them from your local mobile d.j's. He painted the labels, switched labels, when asked he would give you incorrect information sending many of us on wild goose chases. He never seemed to let his guard down.
In 1978 and 1979 Gino’s II was primarily a gay hang out, but in 1980 it was discovered by some of the non gay (straight) mobile d.j. party goers. The word spread fast! Every weekend there where less and less gay patrons, and more and more straights. The hardcore patrons stood until the end, but many others would find there way elsewhere. Now Gino and Michael where both gay, and started resenting their non-gay patrons. They blamed the straights for their loss of gay patrons. It was very normal to get attitude from both Michael and Gino if you were with the non-gay crowd. Around this time a fight broke out outside the club with some of it's non gay patrons, which resulted in a bottle being broken on Gino’s head causing some injuries to him causing yet even more animosity toward their non gay patrons. From there on out, Gino would wear his army helmet for his protection, which soon became his trademark.
Ginos II soon became the who's who of the local disco scene. To be one of the “in” crowd, you had to visit Gino’s. There a dance partner was optional, the gender of your dance partner was also optional, and you would not get critized for dancing with another member of the same sex. This did not mean you were gay, this was an acceptable practice at Gino’s which you couldn’t get away with just a few hours earlier at the mobile parties. Or if you didn’t have a dance partner, it was ok to dance by yourself, or like my good friend Martin, with the mirrors which were conveniently located through out the dance floor. Ginos attracted the best of the best dancers. Even today if you ask any of the great dancers, they were at Gino’s at one point or another. There were many styles of dancers there, you had your robotic, pointers, hustlers, freestylers, & ballet dancers among various other styles. Michael Jackson was even rumored to frequent Gino’s in disguise to keep up on the latest dance moves. It is said the moonwalk was 1st made public at Ginos. Ginos soon became a life style to many of its patrons. Many of us literally lived Ginos every day of our lives. We would practice our moves every day during the week. Go shopping for the most obscure attire you could find. Go to Ginos Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Everyone inside Ginos became like a big family. Even gay and non gay patrons would become one family when harassed by outsiders.
Ginos patrons had their own attire found no where else but at Ginos. The attire was usually unusual, obscure and original. It was by no means your typical disco attire. It was more of a cross between your hard core punk rock and disco attire combined, a little more toward the punk side. It was very common to see individuals wearing very obscure patterns on their attire all the way from clear plastic, leather, checkered, tiger striped, to very G.Q type suits, you would also see waiter jackets, balloon pants, space suits, cowboy attire, any animal type patterns, S & M attire was also common. The shoes worn varied from brightly colored cowboy boots with or without spurs to the famous Joe Jackson shoes. The cowboy boots were nothing normal, they were extremely pointed, the heels were usually slanted no less than a 45 degrees, they were brightly colored, some had tips and wings embroidered or painted on. The Joe Jackson were in a class all by themself. They were even more pointed then the boots, laced on the side, these too were dyed every color immaginable, some people would even attached silver tips. People would sometimes spend up to two days prepairing for an evening at Ginos. There you would be your self and not worry about being ridiculed. Though whenever I went to Ginos, I made sure I filled the tank up with gas before I got dressed, because I did feel quite uncomfortable dressed with Ginos attire at a gas station or anywhere else for that matter.
The hair doos were another story all together. Again every color you could think of was seeing at Ginos at one point or another, pompadours, greaser style, tails, wisps, usually packed on with excessive amounts of aquanet. Hair doos were all but normal at this exotic afterhours club. Ginos is also one of the few clubs that I have been too that many of its patrons arrived in public transportation (RTD bus). This too was perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of as many of it's guests were from low income families (such as myself) and wouldn’t miss an evening there for the world. If you didn’t own a car(most didn’t) you begged, borrowed or took the bus. My first experience with Ginos II was in 1979, I rarely visited Hollywood nevertheless its nightlife district. So naturally I was in shock. Everyone was gay, I was probably one of 10 patrons that night whom weren’t gay. I saw someone wearing leather chaps with nothing underneath, for the 1st time I witnessed two guys making out, I was one scared 16 year old, this was nothing like mobile parties or Monterey Park where I was raised. As I walked up the long narrow staircase I was very nervous, all I saw was darkness with incredible music coming through the walls. I was frisked by a gay security guard, again scared the hell out of me. I tried not to show my fear and continued in like nothing was bothering me. As I reached the top of the staircase I looked to my left and a really nice fish tank which looked to be out of place. I always associated fish tanks with peace and relaxation, and there was definitely none of that in Ginos. It was a very lively, loud, energetic atmosphere with lots of excitement. Then I heard a familiar song by Nancy Sinatra called "Boots" which fit the atmosphere perfectly. The queens went crazy and they stormed the dance floor. I witnessed dance moves I never even thought of. Then I saw a beautiful women dancing and thought to my self, this place cant be that bad until I discovered it was a man. Then I had to use the mens room. Well I held off as long as I could then I had no choice. When I got inside it was empty to my relief, then a very feminine man walked in, then another in drag! I thought that was it, as this drag queen was about 50 lbs heavier than me and about 2 feel taller. As they started talking to me I realized despite their appearance they weren’t all that bad. My ride stayed their till 4 a.m., had I had my car there I would have left before I ever saw the fish tank. But as the night progressed I started listening to the music! That is all it took, I told my self I will be back, but I will drive the next time. I couldn’t believe my ears, the music was like nothing I had ever heard before. I was hooked! Eventually I found that the gay people in Ginos were nothing to be afraid of, on the contrary they were some of the nicest people I had ever became friends with. I made many friends whom were gay whom I am friends with to this day.
Gino's was a big part of my life until 1983 when I enlisted into the service. It is a big conversation subject to anyone else I have found that was there. I have found over the years whenever I run into other Gino's fans that we are like one big family. The memories we shared at Ginos will be there for the rest of our lives. That is one place you dont forget. Michael Angelo has passed on of A.I.D.S in 1996, Gino was reported to be residing in Ontario Ca but was not in good health, but that is not confirmed. Michaels record collection went to three of his fellow d.j friends, two of whom have also passed. The collection was then split to additional friends many of whom have also passed. So his records are scattered all over Los Angeles and San Francisco area. If even a small part of his collection is ever found it would be a gold mine, record collectors would pay big money for it. To end this I would like to thank Gino and the late Michael Angelo for all the good memories they brought to us which will last a lifetime. There will never be another Ginos in our lifetime. Ginos is missed terribly by anyone whom attended. Thank you Gino. I am open to any input, corrections or suggestions. If anything is not correct please e-mail me at email address below. I have researched the best of my ability but there is no records anywhere to be found about Ginos. I have checked the L.A times, Extensive internet searches, ex employees, many many former patrons. So any criticism would be appreciated.
by George (Flashback) Aguilar
Aug 23, 2004