Luckily for the trans employees and performers at Tenderloin nightclub Divas (1081 Post Street), nearly two years after going on the market owner Steve Berkey has maintained his pledge not to sell to anyone who does not want to continue operating the club as a space for trans women and their admirers. According to general manager Liana Estillore, speaking to Hoodline, Berkey remains willing to sell, but she and some of the staff are still trying to convince him not to and she explains that Berkey opened the club in 1998 as a place where his wife Melissa could safely bartend in the neighborhood, and she still does, two nights a week.
Estillore and team have convinced Berkeley to remodel a bit, and make the place feel a bit more classy on the third floor, where nightly performances take place. She tells Hoodline "the changes are huge for us and a step in the right direction," and notes that the place hasn't seen a remodel since it opened.
Divas employee Kataluna Enriquez, who was recently crowned TransNation Queen USA for 2016, also says that she's spearheading an effort to do outreach to the local trans homeless community, saying, "Some of the people I see on the streets are former [Divas] employees, and it is hard for me to just walk by people I used to know having to sleep on the ground." She organized a clothing donation drive, and last weekend the venue hosted a giveaway of food and clothing to the homeless.
The club grew out of a former hangout for trans women in this space, a bar called The Motherlode, that has since closed. And the neighborhood has long been home to gay men and trans women, many of them sex workers back in the day, though most of the LGBT bars besides The Gangway, The Cinch, and Aunt Charlie's further toward Union Square, have disappeared.
Berkey has been seeking to sell the 9,120-square-foot building along with the business and liquor license as a bundle, and the combined price back in 2015 was $3.7 million. The business could be sold separately for $900,000, with a negotiable lease, though those asking prices may have changed. See the original listing here.