Local Venue Owner Denies Accusations of Sexism, Homophobia

blacklightdistrict

NOTE: This article contains language that some readers may find offensive.

The owner of a Long Beach bar and venue is fighting harsh criticism this week after a heated conversation between him and a founding member of a local feminism collective went viral. Those who are angry at the venue owner say his comments are sexist and homophobic; he denies the comments were even made by him. 

Like many musicians and managers looking to find unique places to promote their own art or the art they represent locally, Krista Holmquist saw an online ad offering a promoting position at the Blacklight District Lounge on the Anaheim corridor.

Holmquist—co-founder of the female collective known as the Long Beach Riot Grrrls—was thrilled at the potential to have a permanent home for her brand of feminist punk art and music. The venue is known for hosting rock ‘n’ roll and hardcore punk shows. 

However, her initial meeting with Blacklight’s owner David Franich was, according to her, anything but promising.

Texts FULLEST“As soon as he asked my my music preferences and what kinds of shows I put on, I answered, ‘Folk, folk-punk, feminist punk, experimental/garage’—the usual,” Holmquist said. “The moment I said ‘feminist punk,’ he reacted with, ‘Oh, great, you’re one of those’ while going on to say, ‘So, what is that? Are you a bunch of women that are just going to get on stage and whine and complain?'”

Following this comment, Holmquist said he gestured to the female bartender and noted that the Blacklight “already has enough annoying women here,” emphasizing that a “bunch of angry feminists” would add to his detriment.

“I did not even know what to say,” Holmquist said of the experience with Franich. “I was so shocked, I was left speechless.”

Franich then gave Holmquist a date to try out a show, with Holmquist saying she felt upset with herself at not speaking up at the moment. Sleeping on it, Holmquist felt she had to directly confront Franich and text him (pictured).

“I felt ashamed that I didn’t stand up for the extremely talented womyn [sic] who get on stage and perform in the face of people like this man,” Holmquist said. “I felt ashamed that I let myself be silenced by his bigotry; and when he made further, even more terrible comments to me using homosexuality as an insult and calling me insane, I decided it was time to tell him—and the people of Long Beach—what kind of venue owner is getting business from us.”

Holmquist did not mince her words via text, informing Franich that not only will she not promote a show for him but—in much more harsh language than expressed here—will not stand silent on his bigotry.

Franich’s responses were disturbingly vitriolic, with Franich referring to Holmquist as a “retarded lezbo punk” and a “fucking nut job” who needs to “leave us alone and take your meds.”

When confronted with the texts by the Post, Franich claimed that his phone was stolen by an unknown perpetrator and that the responses coming from his phone were not coming from him directly.

“We have plenty of gay costermers and have had them play here,” Franich said. “I don’t know if your email is a joke but we are going to change password so this doesn’t happen again… We are a equal opportunist organization which is open to hiring open races, genders, and sexual orientation as well as allowing them to perform within the facility. We believe theres been a miss communication due to a stolen iPhone. [sic]”

Franich did not respond to further questions about who may have taken his phone or why someone would would even want to fraudulently represent his business.

Holmquist is forthright in admitting that her language was inappropriate on many levels but, despite explicit wording, felt her anger was warranted.

“I will not concede that point,” Holmquist said. “I had no intention to make this public until he responded to me in such a way. Had his responses been simple attacks on me as a person, I would not have gone out of my way to shame him publicly. But he didn’t just insult me—he insulted all womyn, female musicians, homosexuals, and even the mentally ill. Nothing about that is okay.”

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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