The Gold Cup at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas was "a notoriously sleazy dump of a coffee shop".
Nationally known for young hustlers
The Gold Cup was a hangout and pick-up place for young male hustlers. An online source compares it to a location where runaway teenage girls congregated, "A different kind of same kind of place was The Gold Cup coffee shop at Las Palmas and Hollywood. The neighborhood teemed with 15 and 16 year old boys who ran away before 'someone found out'. Since they couldn't get in bars, it was the Gold Cup for them. (But the boys had it better off... They got to keep their whole $5 instead of split it with a pimp!)" It was also a source for actors for pornographic films:
One early filmmaker, Barry Knight, described how “central casting in those days was The Gold Cup restaurant on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmos [in L.A.]. Whenever they needed an actor, or an actor didn’t show up, they’d go down to ‘central casting’...” (Douglas 1996a, p. 11).
Jackson Browne sang of it in his 1980 hit Boulevard:
- "Down at the golden cup
- They set the young ones up
- Under the neon light
- Selling day for night"
"Los Angeles [is] the child pornography capital of the United States," informs one article in The Chicago Tribune’s May, 1977 series on child prostitution, and the epicenter was The Gold Cup:
In Los Angeles, police told the Tribune, the favorite gathering place of runaway boys and the men who prey on them is in the area of the Gold Cup Restaurant at 6700 Hollywood Dr.
One night recently, a Tribune reporter watched about 14 youths, between 12 and 20 years old, waiting on the sidewalk in front of the Gold Cup. Occasionally a man would walk up, a whispered conversation would ensue, and man would walk away with a boy.
"We have no problem finding our sex offenders here," [Sgt. Lloyd] Martin said. "But we don't have laws to detain them."
Online rumor says that boys as young as 12-16 could be found in the Gold Cup or on the sidewalk outside. "There used to be a 24 hour coffee shop at Hollywood Blvd and Selma Ave called the Gold Cup. [...] That's where the pedos could find either sex for rent, and these little kids were either addicted, runaways, often both. I have been there on medical aid calls many times. I remember one little boy, approx 11 years old, painted up like a vaudeville hussy, wearing girls' clothes, and beat bloody to a pulp."
The 2004 film The Hillside Strangler includes scenes of the Gold Cup, which online commentary describes as accurate.
In Tom Reamy's 1975 award-winning fantasy story "San Diego Lightfoot Sue", the fifteen-year-old protagonist arrives in Los Angeles by bus from Kansas, and reaches a coffee shop that is clearly The Gold Cup:
John Lee got off and stood at the corner of Hollywood and Vine grinning at the night. He walked down Hollywood Boulevard, gawking at everything, reading the names in stars on the sidewalk. He never imagined there would be so many cars or so many people at night. There were more than you would see in liberal even on Saturday afternoon. And the strange clothes the people wore. And men with long hair like the Beatles. Mary Ellen Walker had a colored picture of them pasted on her notebook.
He didn’t know how far he had walked—the street never seemed to end—but the box was heavy. He was hungry and his Sunday shoes had rubbed a blister on his heel. He went into a cafe and sat in a booth, glad to get rid of the weight of the box. Most of the people looked at him as he came in. Several of them smiled. He smiled back. A couple of people had said hello on the street too. Hollywood was certainly a friendly place.
He told the waitress what he wanted. He looked around the cafe and met the eyes of a man at the counter who had smiled when he came in. The man smiled again. John Lee smiled back, feeling good. The man got off the stool and came to the booth carrying a cup of coffee.
Linked to Lyric scandal
In the 1973 scandal which brought down Lyric International, the Los Angeles Times claimed that “Many of the youngsters involved were recruited at hangouts for homosexuals particularly a Hollywood Blvd. coffee shop and a motel in Hollywood.” On-line advertisements for a game offering a "Fabulous 3-D Action walk-through of Hollywood Boulevard, circa 1968" lists among the sights of that time and place, "...oh, there's Billy Byers, Jr. (sic, Billy Byars, Jr.) over at the Gold Cup"..
A Lyric producer named in the scandal described the police methodology in a 1975 interview, "What they did was to very, very carefully invent and build up cases against these fourteen people whose names they had scared out of a couple of teenage prostitutes". He said of these two supposed victims, "Well, two of them were just hustlers the police had dug up—I hardly even knew them. They had worked for Lyric a good little while ago. Even the police didn't push their stories too much, because they were both well into their teens and they admitted they were willing participants."
Photos at ONE Archive
The ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California library has digitized photos in its collection, including of The Gold Cup. Some of the scanned negatives are labeled as including "Gold Cup restaurant and street hustlers", and there are a few others just of "Street hustlers", which appear to be less than a block away, at Las Palmas and Selma. All these photos are in the daytime, although the texts (and song) above refer to night or 24-hour hustling. There is also a color photo of, "The crowd at Los Angeles's first Christopher Street West pride parade in front of the Gold Cup Restaurant. 1970.""
A search will find photos for sale in sites offering vintage Hollywood images, and a least one interior photo is available.
- Eye, Billy. "In search of punk life?". Data-Boy Magazine, Hollywood. December 1, 1980. The printed editions are available at the ONE Archives at USC
- Depthshooter on "Hollywood Crime Scenes"
- Escoffier, Jeffrey (2003), "Gay-for-Pay: Straight Men and the Making of Gay Pornography", Qualitative Sociology 26 (4): 521-535, http://pzacad.pitzer.edu/~mma/teaching/MS110/reading/GayforPay.pdf#5
- Wikipedia on Boulevard
- How Ruses Lure Victims to Child Pornographers. Chicago Tribune, 17 May 1977, in PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION Hearings before the Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency], 95th Congress, 1st Session, Chicago, Ill., May 27, 1977, Washington, DC. June 16, 1977, pp. 437-440
- A retired Fire Captain thinks back...
- IMDB entry for The Hillside Strangler
- Wikipedia on "San Diego Lightfoot Sue"
- Farr, William. "14 Men Indicted in Sex Movies Featuring Boys Ages 6 to 17". Los Angeles Times 27 Oct 1973, p. B1, B8
- GEMINI "PSYCHEDELIC SUPERMARKET"
- Jones, Marvin. Interview. Campfire Video Library
- Gold Cup photos in ONE Archives
- Gay pride parade crowd in front of Gold Cup in ONE Archives