William Johnson, 73
William ‘B.J.’ Johnson, 73, a business-man who operated adult entertainmentclubs in D.C. and Virginia in the 1970sand 1980s, including the Lone Star gaybar, died Jan. 5 at Holy Cross Hospital inSilver Spring, Md., o complications rombladder cancer and heart disease.Johnson, who was gay, was known inthe gay community as the owner o theLone Star, a club at 9th and E Streets,N.W. that eatured nude emale dancersto a largely straight clientele during theday. Johnson operated the club as a gaybar at night that eatured nude maledancers.Shirley Dearolph, a riend who workedas a bartender at the Lone Star and otherclubs owned by Johnson, said he boughtthe Lone Star rom the U.S. governmentin 1978 in an auction ater the IRS seizedthe club rom its previous owner. Accord-ing to news reports, the previous owner,a ederal employee, had been convictedo embezzling money rom the govern-ment or the purpose o buying the club.“At the time he bought it there werejust the go-go girls in the day,” Dearolphsaid. “It closed at 8 o’clock because mosto the customers worked or the govern-ment and nobody stayed out late.”According to Dearolph, within a ewweeks o taking control o the Lone Star,Johnson opened it at night and hiredmale strippers, becoming the city’s sec-ond club to oer nude male dancers to agay clientele.The Chesapeake House, a gay barlocated three blocks north at 9th and HStreets, N.W., began eaturing male strip-pers a year or two earlier, Dearolph said.Beore buying the Lone Star, Johnsonestablished a name or himsel in 1976as the rst person in the nation’s capitalto oer totally nude emale strippers at anightclub he bought in the city’s then redlight district on 14th Street, N.W., calledBenny’s Rebel Room.Dearolph said that during that sameperiod in the 1970s Johnson bought ThisIs It, another emale burlesque nightclubin the inamous 14th Street strip betweenH and K streets, N.W. Around that sametime Johnson bought Ziggie’s, a bur-lesque club in Arlington, Va., which alsoeatured emale strippers.In the late 1970s, two gay bathhousesand a gay adult bookstore opened on the14th Street strip near Johnson’s night-clubs. Possibly anticipating what wasto come in the mid-1980s, Johnson soldBenny’s and This is It in 1978 at the peako their popularity but at a time when civ-ic activists began to complain about theadult businesses.Noting they were located in the hearto downtown Washington and less thanthree blocks rom the White House, realestate developers and some D.C. gov-ernment ocials joined orces to “cleanup” the area. By 1986, most o the 14thStreet adult clubs had closed, with somehaving their licenses revoked or allegedliquor law violations.“He was a good businessman,”Dearolph said. “He sold This Is It andBenny’s around 1978 and bought theLone Star. He kept the Lone Star until wehad to close it in 1986 when they weredoing the development down there.”Similar to the 14th Street strip, theLone Star and other bars and clubsalong 9th St., N.W., including the Chesa-peake House and the gay bar Louie’s,were displace by upscale high-rise ocebuildings.Johnson was born in Laurel, Md., andspent much o his early years on his par-ents’ arm in nearby Spencerville. He re-ceived a bachelor’s degree rom the Uni-versity o Maryland, College Park, andbegan his career as a teacher. He laterspent “many years as a successul busi-nessman, owning a number o success-ul businesses, including several bar es-tablishments,” according to a statementreleased by amily members at the timeo his death.At a Jan. 10 memorial service, riendssaid Johnson lived or many years in atownhouse he owned in D.C. on CapitolHill while spending time at the arm andarmhouse in Spencerville he later inher-ited rom his parents.“It was his pride and joy,” saidDearolph. “He didn’t grow crops andraise animals. He kept it manicured andbeautiul. It was his showcase.”In addition to Dearolph, one o John-son’s closest riends and associates,Johnson is survived by his nieces, Deb-orah Clark and Donna Dunn; his great-nephew, Glenn Edens, Jr; great-niecesLisa Edens and Ashley Crisp; and onegreat-great nephew, William ChaseRezmer.At the time o his uneral, amily mem-bers requested that in lieu o fowers, do-nations be made to the William ‘BJ’ John-son Memorial und at the American HeartAssociation and the American CancerSociety.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.
2 washingtonblade.com • february 4, 2011
An ad campaign for a new effort aimed at curbing HIV rates among black gay men in D.C.
Black gay men launch HIV testing campaign
Ten black gay men with HIV kicked o an “unprecedented citywide eort” inJanuary to prevent the spread o HIV in D.C. among black men who have sex withmen through a new, ederally unded project organized by the National Associationo People With AIDS.The Bayard Rustin Community Mobilization Project is a coalition o community-based AIDS groups, aith-based and academic institutions, and the D.C. Depart-ment o Health that is determined to address an alarmingly high HIV prevalencerate among black gay men in the District, according to a NAPWA spokesperson.“We call these 10 men the rst ‘HIV testing advocates,’ and we empower them tospeak at bars and restaurants, churches, community orums — really any opportu-nity at which they can reach the community, educate them about HIV and testing,and change behavior,” said NAPWA spokesperson David Sheon.A brochure describing the project says it is named ater black civil rights strate-gist Bayard Rustin, an adviser to amed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.and the lead organizer or King’s 1963 civil rights march on Washington.Rustin, who was gay, died in 1987 at a time when his sexual orientation was notwidely known outside civil rights group circles. He became an advocate or gayrights causes in the latter part o his lie, prompting LGBT activists to view him as arole model or civil rights organizing.Some o the Rustin Project’s HIV testing advocates as well as organizers o theproject will be greeting the community at a booth on Saturday, Feb. 5, during aNational Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day event hosted by the Metropolitan Com-munity Church o Washington at 474 Ridge St., N.W. The event is sponsored by theD.C. AIDS service group Food & Friends.The Rustin Project is hosting its own community orum to discuss its HIV preven-tion eorts targeting black men who have sex with men on Feb. 14 at the BarbaraJordan Conerence Center located at the Kaiser Family Foundation oces, 1330 GSt., N.W. The event is open to the public.The most recent data on HIV prevalence in D.C. highlight the need or the RustinProject, organizers say. Among the 16,513 people living with HIV/AIDS in D.C. as o2008, 40 percent, or 6,722, contracted HIV through male-to-male sex. Among thatgroup, 4,091, or 60 percent, are Arican American, the data show.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Virginia closes AIDS drug program for new patients
In a little-noticed development, the Virginia Department o Health in Decemberclosed its AIDS Drug Assistance Program, or ADAP, to new enrollments except orpregnant women, children 18 years old or younger and people receiving treatmentor an AIDS-related inection.The department said it was also planning to remove rom the program approxi-mately 760 clients, with the aim o helping them obtain needed AIDS medicationsthrough other programs, including short-term drug programs oered by pharma-ceutical companies that manuacture the drugs.Dr. Karen Remley, Virginia’s health commissioner, said in a statement issuedin December that the ADAP cutbacks were due to an unprecedented increase inenrollment in the Virginia ADAP program and increased costs or the drugs.ADAP is part o the ederal Ryan White CARE Act program in which states andthe ederal government share the cost o paying or lie-saving AIDS drugs to low-income people who lack health insurance coverage.AIDS activists have called on Congress and the White House to push or anincreased share o ederal unding or ADAP, saying the national recession hascurtailed revenue in many states, orcing them to cut back on their ADAP budgets.“Virginia ADAP will continue to serve more than 3,000 clients who will remain inthe program,” a state health department statement says. “No interruption in carewill occur or any ADAP clients.”As o late January, D.C. and Maryland have not put in place any cutbacks in ser-vice or their ADAPs. Unlike many states, D.C. and Maryland do not have a waitinglist or new ADAP patients.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.