Last week we delved into the situation surrounding accusations of homophobia against Hollywood Bowl. A week later it still seems to be pretty much a game of “they said, they said” but folks seem rather interested in this one, so I figured I’d give what little updates are to be had.
Firstly, a reader by the name of ‘jo’ was able to wrench even more information out of an HB Manager Heather Moeller than I was, saying,
There were no leagues on Saturday already…The Sunday PCBL League was approached and asked if they would switch from 3:00pm Sunday to either 10:00am or 6:30pm which would allow us to have as large chunk open for birthday parties and open play. The league being at 3:00 on Sunday just made it hard to book anything else.
Out at Rose Bowl I had to ask my Friday Flyers league of 22 years to move…It was very hard for me to do. This is a league of seniors, twenty something, and people of all walks of life. We are trying to find them a spot for next fall but I only have 16 lanes. This is also happening in the Tri Cities at Spare Time Lanes.
The Nisei league on Friday night had not been approached at Hollywood yet because the PDX [pride league] had the largest portion of lanes and if they did not move it would be pointless to ask the Nisei because we would still be in the same situation as they take less lanes.
Anyone who know us knows this was never directed anyone personally and simply a business decision to fight the damage the economy has done to us.
This has the ring of panicked truth, though the implication that they gave them a choice to leave, and that they didn’t initially ask the other Friday league to leave at the same time does indicate a fairly significant misstep, even if it didn’t have homophobic intentions.
In a slightly more cohesive interview with the Oregonian, owner Mark Fuller clarified some of the situation, saying that five leagues have been moved from their Friday and Sunday timeslots including the 2 gays leagues, the Friday Night Pride League and the Portland Community Bowling League, as well as a heterosexual couples league called the Friday Flyers, a Japanese league (Nisei) and a Filipino league. The hetero league, the Flyers, was actually the first to get bumped from company’s Spare Times Lanes in Kennewick, WA, although the smaller Nisei was not initially asked to leave their Friday slot. Now they have been.
Fuller goes into insist that this was the only survivable business model and that revenues have increased where Friday leagues have moved. “This is economics, not politics,” he said. “League bowling has plummeted. For us to remain in play, we have to have open lanes.” Business models of causal bowlers vs. leagues can be debated, but it is important to note that from a PR standpoint they did not think this new business decision through before its haphazard implementation. It also seems a little murky to state that the reason for needing this change is because league bowling has plummeted, when these leagues seem to be some of the best supported and attended.
PCBL has not gotten back to me or offered any official statements since saying that they were consulting with various groups at this time prior to making one. I do not expect one to be forthcoming beyond the website’s confirmation of the move away from Hollywood, and the recommendation to Google “Hollywood Bowl discrimination.” It goes on to say that after 18 years their League contract has not been renewed in the newly offered 3:30 Sunday time slot and that they, along with the Friday night Pride Leagues, “…are exiting Hollywood Bowl due to a change by the owner to a more ‘family friendly’ environment where our leagues due not fit his business plan.”
So, while it seems unlikely that Fuller intended a fully rid his company entirely of lucrative gay dollars, he has probably effectively done so. That he and his managers did not think through the implications of what leagues they were getting rid of and carefully explain why is an example itself of heterosexist privilege, and I have a hard time seeing gay customers wanting to choose Hollywood Bowl over less controversial lanes.