Reliving Cuffs

For one night only, Dirty Looks reclaimed a queer space that helped define Silverlake.

BY VICTOR MELAMED

As part of Dirty Looks: On Location 2018 and curated by Bradford Nordeen, 7|07 Cuffs, a collaboration of Jonesy, Chris Cruse and Mr. Drummer ‘79—took place last month at Hyperion Tavern, the space that once was the gay leather bar, CUFFS. 

Cuffs was one of dozens of long-lost spaces in the neighborhood that fostered a rebellious, leathery attitude.” 

Cuffs opened in 1981 at the height of the Silverlake leather scene and stayed open until the early Aughts. Situated along the Hyperion Avenue strip among fellow institutions like Basic Plumbing and Pure Trash, the small beer bar had a reputation for being dark and crowded in a manner that fostered a certain degree of camaraderie among its patrons. As the AIDS crisis unfolded and more overtly sexual spaces closed, Cuffs persisted as a laid-back, sleazy hangout. The space was stripped down, with black walls, red lighting and minimal decor. The music was similarly dark and punk/industrial. Sex hung in Cuffs’ gloom with it reportedly so dark that whoever entered from outside was blind for a moment before their eyes could adjust. This feature enabled patrons to size-up recent arrivals and zip-up if they appeared to be the vice squad.

For one night only, Dirty Looks reclaimed a queer space that helped to define Silverlake as a proving ground for alternative sexuality over three decades. Cuffs was one of dozens of long-lost spaces in the neighborhood that fostered a rebellious, leathery attitude.


To find out more about Dirty Looks: On Location 2018  visit www.dirtylooksla.org/