50 Photos Proving No One Did Halloween Quite Like the Gays of 1980s West Hollywood
Along with its reputation as a beloved haven for the LGBTQ community, West Hollywood — a city that sits inside of greater Los Angeles, California — has for more than three decades been a huge draw for fans of Halloween. Each year on the big night, throngs of people from all over Southern California (many of them gay men) converge on Santa Monica Boulevard to walk the streets and show off their costumes. Simply put, there’s nothing quite like West Hollywood Halloween.
Three years after WeHo’s 1984 incorporation, the city launched its annual West Hollywood Halloween celebration. “Halloween Carnaval was launched in 1987 and is rooted in the foundation of the City of West Hollywood’s diverse culture and community,” says a recent citywide announcement. “Each year, the event is a gathering of phenomenal costumes, entertainment, culture, and self-expression with a myriad of observers, revelers, exhibitionists, and performers. People come from all over the region to take part in the fun.”
But what was West Hollywood Halloween like before the kickoff of the city’s famed celebration? One local resident offers some insight into just that, courtesy of some amazing photos taken on Halloween night in WeHo throughout the 1980s.
Steven Curtis has lived in Southern California all his life, and in West Hollywood since the early 1970s. In addition to being a photographer for commercials and motion pictures, in 2017 he published the book The Vietnam I Remember: A Reflection of One Marine’s Experience in Vietnam, about his two tours of duty from 1968 to 1970.
We just can’t get enough of his retro snapshots from West Hollywood Halloweens gone by.
“The first time I experienced the West Hollywood Halloween festivities was when I was a student at UCLA,” Curtis tells Hornet. “I was not out, and being gay was not at all cool. Being referred to as a ‘fag’ was the worst possible insult. I stumbled on the festivities by accident and couldn’t believe my eyes: openly gay guys celebrating their gayness and putting on the most amazing display of theatrics. I blew off my plans to watch a movie in Hollywood and stayed for the entire evening.”
In these amazing pics you’ll find guys sporting all sorts of costumes — funny, sexy, occasionally sleazy. Oh, and the drag! Long before RuPaul’s Drag Race gathered drag-lovers around the television, the gays of West Hollywood were decked out in their finest heels, wigs and makeup for the big night!
These ‘blast from the past’ Halloween pics also offer an interesting look into a city that was intended to be a safe haven for the local LGBTQ community, something West Hollywood still stands for today.
Dive into these West Hollywood Halloween pics from the 1980s here: