Boho go loco!

Masters of the Universe have a gay old time at the Bohemian Grove

Illustration By robert armstrong

Dateline, Monte Rio, Calif. The dark woods on the outskirts of this run-down Russian River resort town are silent now, save the occasional rustle of wind through the towering redwoods. In two weeks, however, the thick moss-laden trunks of the Bohemian Grove will reverberate with the sounds of drag queens making merry, mock human sacrifices and the tinkling hiss of piss on trees.

Such events are unremarkable in themselves—one may witness similar scenes, minus the redwoods, in the alley behind SN&R any night of the week. But these are no mere ordinary mortals prancing about the forest, drinking themselves blind, urinating and defecating at will.

These are the Masters of the Universe.

Truth be told, roughly 90 percent of the 2,000 or so men in attendance at the annual gathering at the grove—and they are all men, with the exception of a few maids and the occasional female prostitute—are nothing more than well-to-do Californians. Folks like McClatchy Company board of directors member William K. Coblentz and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. The 136-year-old San Francisco-based Bohemian Club, which of all things began as a gathering of like-minded, underpaid journalists, has essentially morphed into an old-boys network.

Of course, joining Coblentz and Hart in the Hillbillies Camp are luminaries such as former president George H.W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Past attendees at the Grove have included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, H-Bomb father Edward Teller; the late, closeted multibillionaire Malcolm Forbes, Vice President Dick Cheney and every Republican president up to and including George W. Bush. Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain is rumored to be attending this year’s gathering, which takes place July 11-27.

Now, any time heavy hitters like this get together, there’s gonna be talk. First of all, there’s the genuine conspiracy. Money plus guns equals power, and this club packs a powerful punch. If there really is a cabal of rich and powerful men running the planet, some of the bohos can certainly be counted among them.

The main difference between a “conspiracy” and a “conspiracy theory” is spatial: The former takes place in reality, the latter occurs on an alternate and highly more paranoid celestial plane than our own. From the Illuminati to the Bilderbergs to the Trilateral Commission, an infinite number of crackpot theories have been concocted in this regard, none more so than soothsaying British anti-historian David Icke’s Reptilian Agenda.

Icke claims that long ago, lizard people from another universe landed on Earth, bred with primates to create the human race and then slipped behind the scenes to rule the world in secret and keep the reptilian bloodline pure. However, according to Icke, members of this secret sect—including the aforementioned George H.W. Bush as well as Hillary Clinton—shed their human skins once a year and can be detected by their slitted, reptilian eyes.

But by far the most amusing tales—and arousing, if I do say so myself—concern rumors of ongoing homosexual activity at the Grove. President Richard Nixon was among the first to comment on the alleged gay goings-on there, during a 1971 Oval Office conversation with Watergate co-conspirators John Erlichman and H.R. Halderman. Discussing a recent episode of All in the Family that featured Archie Bunker visiting a gay bar, the felonious trio waxed homophobic.

“The upper class in San Francisco is that way [gay],” Nixon insisted. “The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time—it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can’t shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.”

In 2004, we learned from the vaunted New York Post that gay porn star Chad Savage (How the West Was Hung) was working at the Grove as a valet. When questioned by the Post, a Grove spokesman said, “All that matters is that the valets do good service. That’s really all that matters.”


Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, Gays Without Borders, an informal network of GLBT activists, has welcomed a new member into the fold, none other than President George W. Bush, who attended his first gathering at the Grove back in the coke-snorting heyday of his youth. Cocaine will make you do crazy things. Like, say, go down on the future U.S. ambassador to Poland.

True story? That’s what Nevada dominatrix-cum-gubernatorial candidate Leola McConnell claims. Like anything that happens at the highly secretive Bohemian Grove, it’s hard to say. Only one thing is certain. In less than two weeks’ time, the Masters of the Universe will meet in a shaded Sonoma County glen, and we’re not invited. Maybe that’s a good thing.