Gold Cup

From BoyWiki

The Gold Cup at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas was "a notoriously sleazy dump of a coffee shop". [1]"Once a beacon for teenage runaways, the Gold Cup attracted the worst elements of Hollywood Boulevard sleaze."[2]

Nationally known for young hustlers

Crowds watch Los Angeles's first Pride parade in 1970 in front of the Gold Cup[3]

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!)"[4] 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).[5]

Jackson Browne sang of it in his 1980 hit Boulevard:[6]

"Down at the golden cup
They set the young ones up
Under the neon light
Selling day for night"

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."[7]

During the great kiddie porn panic, national media in May, 1977 showcased the child pornography problem, and The Gold Cup appeared in a number of national vehicles.

Chicago Tribune

"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."[8]

The New York Times

The Last Porno Show

(By Robert Sam Anson)

The Cup and the Rack

In Los Angeles, when police say "the Cup" they mean the Gold Cup Cafe, at Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas, first stop on what is called "the meat rack." The meat rack begins at the Cup, runs down Las Palmas, then turns right on Selma, goes on for a couple of blocks, then left on Highland to Santa Monica. It is not hard to find it. Simply follow the slowly cruising cars and look for kids lounging on the street. When the cars stop and the kids walk over, you're there.

On any night of the week, the Gold Cup is jammed: with kids, both boys and girls, menacing-looking black pimps, a few assorted lesbians and a sizable contingent of middle-aged chickenhawks. The atmosphere is a cross between a YMCA club and Dante's ninth circle. In the back of the Cup half a dozen teenage boys are playing pinball. A scantily dressed prostitute wanders in to watch the action. Then she leans over one of the machines to see the score, one of her breasts flops out. No one looks twice. In the front of the cafe, three beefy chickenhawks sit in a booth, chatting, sipping coffee, and commenting on the passing merchandise. "Who's that sweet little blond?" one of them calls out, and blows a kiss to a boy sitting at the counter. The youth turns, smiles knowingly, and walks to the table. One of the chickenhawks reaches out and fondles his crotch.

At 9:30, when the cafe closes for the night, the kids straggle out the door, some heading off for other well-known "chicken coops" in the neighborhood, others around the corner to the bookstall on Las Palmas (where one of the gay magazines features pictures of one of the boys who'd been playing pinball that night), and still others down the block to Selma Avenue. There they queue up for the cruising chickenhawks. [9]

CBS 60 Minutes


Sunday, May 15, 1977, with CBS News correspondents Mike Wallace and Morley Safer

(Produced by Barry Lando)

Sergeant MARTIN. Not only do your adults come up here looking for to satisfy their sexual pleasures, but you will also find the pornographers that's looking for models. A typical place for them to go would be in here to the Gold Cup restaurant here. This one down—

Mr. WALLACE. The Gold Cup right over here?

Sergeant MARTIN. Yes, right here on the right. And I've seen them as young as six years old in here, all the way up to eighteen or nineteen.

Mr. WALLACE. Six years old?

Sergeant MARTIN. Six years old. A lot of the hot dog stands and pinball arcades, this is where the young ones, the real young ones, would come to—to play the pinball machines. This is where the chicken hawk would come with a pocket full of quarters to give the young kids. This is how he makes his introduction. Then it leads up: Would you like to go home and smoke a joint? And it's little by little, but it maybe only take an hour, an hour and a half, till he's got him home and got him in the bed. After that point, after the act of oral copulation has occurred, or sodomy, what's—what's a little bit of picture taking? That's nothing. Other kids that don't—that don't score at "The Meat Rack" walk down Highland Avenue here to the Arthur J's restaurant.

Mr. WALLACE. This is a regular beat?

Sergeant MARTIN. It's a regular beat, yes.

Mr. WALLACE. [to boy]. Who are you waiting for?

Boy. Huh?

Mr. WALLACE. Who are you waiting for?

Boy. I'm waiting for a trick.

Mr. WALLACE. How old are some of the kids who work here? Boy. Some of them is young. Here?

Mr. WALLACE. How young.

Boy. Sixteen. A lot—there's a lot of chicken around here. There's a lot of old men who likes chicken. That's what they call chicken.

Mr. WALLACE. Yeah. But how old are the youngest kids that you know who do it out here?

Boy. Thirteen, fourteen. Thirteen on up.[10]

Popular Culture

The 2004 film The Hillside Strangler[11] 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"[12], 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.

The 1977 punk "Trouble At The Cup" by Black Randy & Metrosquad, is written from the viewpoint of a runway. The lyrics include, "They say the boulevard is no place to be [...] I'd rather stand here and sell my dick" and complains of police violence, saying "Hollywood Boulevard is a military zone".[2] "In the late seventies there was a punk band called Arthur J and the Gold Cups, incorporating the names of two of the town’s most unsavory restaurants."[2]

The 2019 "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" recreated a stretch of Hollywood Boulevard, with stars DiCaprio and Pitt dining with Al Pacino at the Musso & Frank Grill, half a block from the Gold Cup's site at the corner of Las Palmas. [13] A look at YouTube "making of" videos, however, show that director Taratino neither reproduced the Gold Cup - it remained as it is today, a tattoo parlor - nor its teenage sidewalk hustlers.[14]

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.”[15] 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) over at the Gold Cup".[16].

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."[17]

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.[18] Some of the scanned negatives are labeled as including "Gold Cup restaurant and street hustlers"[19], and there are a few others just of "Street hustlers"[20], 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."[3]"

A search will find photos for sale in sites offering vintage Hollywood images, and a least one interior photo is available.


  1. Eye, Billy. "In search of punk life?". Data-Boy Magazine, Hollywood. December 1, 1980. The printed editions are or were in the ONE Archives at USC.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Fein, Art. The Gold Cup "The L.A. musical history tour: a guide to the rock and roll landmarks of Los Angeles". Boston : Faber and Faber, 1990
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gay pride parade crowd in front of Gold Cup in ONE Archives
  4. Depthshooter on "Hollywood Crime Scenes"
  5. Escoffier, Jeffrey (2003), "Gay-for-Pay: Straight Men and the Making of Gay Pornography", Qualitative Sociology 26 (4): 521-535, 
  6. Wikipedia on Boulevard
  7. A retired Fire Captain thinks back...
  8. 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
  9. "The Last Porno Show" Robert Sam Anson, New York Times, June 24, 1977 via Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation: Hearings Before the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, p. 155.
  10. "Kiddie Porn" CBS News from "60 Minutes," Produced by Barry Lando, Vol. IX, No. 33, as broadcast over the CBS Television Network, Sunday, May 15, 1977, with CBS News correspondents Mike Wallace and Morley Safer, via Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation: Hearings Before the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, p. 126.
  11. IMDB entry for The Hillside Strangler
  12. Wikipedia on "San Diego Lightfoot Sue"
  13. Variety on "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" locations
  14. Youtube Making of "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" - BTS On Location July 23, 24 & Oct 22, 23 2018.
  15. Farr, William. "14 Men Indicted in Sex Movies Featuring Boys Ages 6 to 17". Los Angeles Times 27 Oct 1973, p. B1, B8
  17. Jones, Marvin. Interview. Campfire Video Library
  18. Gold Cup Negatives in ONE Archives
  19. Gold Cup restaurant and street hustlers in ONE Archives
  20. Street hustlers in ONE Archives