Letter to William Oates, The Follies, from Tom Bastow, Gay Vote 1980



37 L St. SE - The Cinema Follies opened in 1975 in a former auto repair building as a cinema showing X-rated gay films. The club was managed by Bill Oates, Jr and owners included Roy Barnard and Henry Jaffe. A disastrous fire on October 24, 1977 trapped patrons in the second floor theatre. Nine men died in the fire. Following the fire, there was considerable controversy as to whether there should have been more and better lit exits. However, the cinema was in compliance with existing fire code regulations. The disastrous fire led to renewed enforcement and strengthening of fire regulations at DC clubs. It led also to the founding of the Gay and Married Men’s Association as a social alternative. Following the fire, the Cinema Follies re- opened at 24 O St. SE.


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typed letter signed




Bastow, Tom, “Letter to William Oates, The Follies, from Tom Bastow, Gay Vote 1980,” Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed July 12, 2024, https://archives.rainbowhistory.org/items/show/528.

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