The hottest gay cruising spots to meet men might surprise you. From hardware stores to back alleys, here’s where to find a gay hook-up.
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Best gay cruising spots in LA: Circus of Books
Whether you’re in the market for drills and thrills (hello, Home Depot!) or just want to walk on the wild side (of the alley), West Hollywood offers plenty of gay-friendly bars, hangouts and other places to meet men and hook up. Time Out scopes out LA’s 10 best gay cruising spots.
The combination of testosterone and walls lined with gay adult books, magazines, DVDs, sex toys and lubricants (among other novelties) makes for a particularly sexually charged environment, otherwise known as ground zero for cruising. Let’s face it…anyone who walks into either Circus of Books location is already up for it, so is it any surprise that the pickings are so ripe at this three-decades-old institution? In addition to this WeHo mainstay, there’s also a Silver Lake outpost. The fact that both stores are within stumbling distance of popular gay hot spots like Akbar (Silver Lake) and Fubar (WeHo) only adds to their allure.
- 8230 Santa Monica Blvd
Starbucks (store #633)
Coffee? Tea? Or the hunk in the white tee? At this popular West Hollywood outpost, all of the above are on the menu. Better known as “Gaybucks” to locals, this Starbucks location is as much a catwalk as it is a coffee house. The store’s always-packed outdoor tables along Santa Monica Blvd and Westmount Dr represent the first leg of the runway, where well-coiffed patrons (many fresh from the gym) are evaluated on presentation and form… and occasionally rewarded with nods or smiles of approval. The final leg of the runway runs from the entrance to the register, which can seem like an eternity on a busy day, especially given all the prying eyes peeking up over steaming non-fat soy lattes to rate every single patron who dares to take a turn through the store. However this is also the all-important leg that can create the perfect opening to chat with the hottie in line next to you or exchange furtive glances with the Clark Kent type in the glasses across the room who just happens to have an open seat with your name on it right next to him. Bottom line: This ain’t your roll out of bed and get a cup of joe Starbucks. Here, you better come correct or be prepared for a stare down with scathing judgment.
- 8595 Santa Monica Blvd
Just across the street from “Gaybucks” (see above) and just north of the central runway that is Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood’s 24-Hour Fitness is practically a local landmark with a storied history that includes more than a few tales about the notorious sexual peccadilloes and indiscretions that once took place regularly behind its doors. Now that it has gone through a major renovation and remodel (and to a large degree put in policies that prevent the once wanton activity that was its calling card), 24-Hour Fitness is still one of the cruisiest destinations in West Hollywood albeit in a much more discreet way. Because it is one of the more reasonably priced gyms in Boys Town, it draws a wider audience—and the bigger the audience, the greater the variety. (Note to tourists…day passes are available. Call ahead to find out current fees).
- 8612 Santa Monica Blvd
There’s been a whole lot of building going on in Silver Lake since the neighborhood became the alternative gay mecca of Los Angeles. And that, at least in part, explains all the action happening over butch discussion about sinks and tiles at the Home Depot on Sunset Blvd. With gardening, renovation and DIY as an icebreaker, this builder’s emporium is a fertile meeting ground for guys with a penchant for power tools, sweaty conversations and nailing things. Is that hot guy really checking out that lawn mower behind you or is it just a convenient way for him to give your ass a double take? At this Home Depot, there’s a good chance he’s doing both.
- 5600 Sunset Blvd
Spectacular city views and celebrity sightings aside, the 160-acre Runyon Canyon Park, located right in the heart of Hollywood, is a wonderland of shirtless boys seeking other shirtless boys. Guys looking to make a connection under the guise of indulging in a healthy hike or taking Fido out for a stroll will find that Runyon not only delivers a neck-craning abundance of eye-candy, but also lends itself to both chance encounters along the various hiking trails and friendly introductions to those handsome strangers you hope will soon be anything but. Word to the wise: Try one of the daily free yoga classes at Runyon (you never know who might come along to help you with your downward dog).
- 2000 N Fuller Ave
As a brand, Target may have had a few run-ins with LGBT groups in recent years, but let there be no doubt that the company’s West Hollywood Gateway location is decidedly gay-friendly. Affectionately known as “Tar-jay” to some locals, this Target outpost is a magnet for Boys Town and Boys Town–adjacent gays alike. After all…gays need household products just like everyone else, and ever since this Target opened it’s become the destination of choice for locals to pick up the bare necessities and occasionally a little man-candy as well. Just be sure to make a list of what you need before entering this store, because from the cosmetics section to the lawn furniture department, one handsome distraction after another awaits…and no one really needs to spend that much time in Target.
- 7100 Santa Monica Blvd
When the hour is late and the desire to hook up is strong, Studs Theatre is a port of last resort for some sexed-up WeHo residents and tourists—though few will actually admit to having ever been there. An adult film multiplex, Studs Theatre streams the latest gay porn on four screens while patrons get frisky with one another in their seats, often engaging in real-time live reenactments of the action on the movie screens (though such behavior is strictly prohibited because, of course, we all know the reason to go to a theatre alone to watch an adult porn is to solemnly appreciate the art of the work). For the record, the cruising allegedly happens in the bathrooms and hallways outside of the theaters or in the theater’s mini-café. The action then follows in the theaters…or so I’ve been told because I’ve never admitted to having ever been inside the theater.
- 7734 Santa Monica Blvd
Crunch’s arrival in WeHo was a game-changer. Drawing the Hollywood Hills gay crowd as well as the local West Hollywood contingent with its signature array of classes, Crunch, despite its heftier price tag, became the “it” place to work out in Boys Town. Which means it also became the place to see and be seen flexing your muscles for the most sculpted boys in town. Many other gyms have come (and gone), but Crunch still remains a surefire spot for hard bodies to get better acquainted. Yoga? Pilates? Ab Attack? Take your pick and make your match.
- 8000 Sunset Blvd
Located in the very nerve center of Los Angeles gay life, steps away from the busiest watering holes in Boys Town, it really only stands to reason that the local Pavilions would be a notorious meeting place for the boys of West Hollywood. A mix of local “personalities,” boys next door, porn stars and models all flock to this cavernous grocery story to check out the fruits and vegetables (and each other). The well-stocked wine and liquor aisle is particularly meeting-friendly. Nothing like choosing between a Sancerre and a Viognier to spark a conversation.
- 8969 Santa Monica Blvd
Some call it seedy. Others call it tragic. But the truth is this infamous alley just off Santa Monica Blvd is still such a popular place to hook up that it has both its own Foursquare designation and Facebook page. Conveniently located behind the Gold Cost Bar—a local watering hole with innumerable nicknames like “The Old Coast,” “The Troll Coast” and “The Mold Coast” due primarily to its aging clientele—Vaseline Alley is one of those slyly cruisy spots that offers a degree of denial plausibility. In other words, frequenting the dark recesses of this hormonally overactive alley does not necessarily mean that you’re there to cruise. You could be walking to the neighboring parking lot after dinner at a local eatery like Marco’s or exiting the backdoor of Gold Coast after drinks. However, if you are checked in at Vaseline Alley on Foursquare or spotted knocking on the window of a parked car in the shadows, your deniability will suffer a significant loss of plausibility. Note: Horndogs aren’t the only ones trolling Vaseline Alley. The local police have taken quite a shine to the hot spot as well. You have been warned.
A euphemism for the saucy action that occurs at all hours of the day and night in the stretch of residential West Hollywood between Sweetzer Ave and Crescent Heights Blvd, just north of Santa Monica Blvd and south of Fountain Ave. Particularly active at night, this unassuming, seemingly low-key neighborhood is always pregnant with sexual possibilities. Locals have been known to linger in doorways or peer invitingly out of windows in their eagerness to show passersby a little neighborly affection. All of which makes a chance encounter during a stroll through “the bushes” more than likely if you’re in the mood. Better yet, just turn on a social networking app like Scruff, during your stroll, and watch the parade come to you.