The long, slow death of the LGBT elements of Polk Street has been discussed and mourned frequently for the last two decades. But now an iconic business that has survived all the change in the neighborhood throughout that time is going on the market, and it could be in danger of closing. That would be Divas, the don't-call-it-gay nightclub off of Polk on Post Street for trans ladies and their admirers. As Hoodline reports, the building and the bar business are both on the market, with the real estate agent saying that they'd like to be sold as a package. However given the trends of the neighborhood, it remains an open question whether a new owner will want to continue using it as a trans club.
The place has been an important gathering space, not to mention money-making performance venue, for trans women dating back to the 1980s when it began life as a bar called The Motherlode across the street. Divas, which opened in 1998, is a huge, four-story club that has been known to serve a breakfast buffet in the morning, has stage performances in the ground-floor cabaret at night, a third-floor dancefloor, and a top floor lounge space for the ladies to court their
Owner Steve Berkey is selling the place for $2.8 million, with the business and its liquor license sold separately for $900,000. Berkey is apparently sensitive to the idea that the trans employees and performers at Divas are worried about losing their jobs, but much like when Marlena's was sold two years ago in the primarily straight neighborhood of Hayes Valley, the writing was on the wall that the place was not going to continue to be a gay bar.
With the potential loss of Divas, that would leave only AsiaSF as a performance spot for trans women.
For those who aren't aware, Polk Street, and this edge of the Tenderloin, was a major gay and trans mecca in the 1960s and 70s before the Castro took over that role, and into the early 2000s there were still a group of LGBT bars intact including the Motherlode, Deco Lounge, and Rendezvous. Now the last remaining evidence of that era are The Cinch further up Polk Street, which opened in 1973 and still has some kitschy cowboy character, and the Gangway on Larkin, as well as Aunt Charlie's Lounge further in the T-loin. Long may they all survive.