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Colleague Recalls Advocate Founder Aristide Laurent’s Strangest LA Moment

There’s a wonderful obituary today at OutinJersey.net for Aristide Laurent, the gay rights advocate who co-founded the Los Angeles Advocate in 1967. He passed away October 26 after a long illness.

It’s not easy summarizing a life as colorful and eventful as this, but writer Toby Grace does so in a style befitting his last name. Along with inspiring mention of how Aristide refused to surrender to a U.S. Air Force investigation that pressured him to identify fellow gay enlistees, there is this look at the hilarious (in retrospect) LAPD raid of the Mark IV Bathouse:

The charity “slave auction,” intended to raise money for the Gay Community Services Center, was utterly misunderstood by the unimaginative straights in the LAPD Vice Squad. They actually thought people were going to be sold into real, down-on-the-plantation slavery! They deployed over 100 cops at a cost of more than $150,000 and came in like gang busters, arresting 40 people including Aristide and charged them with slavery. It was a major public relations disaster for the Los Angeles police, left them looking absolutely ridiculous and stirred up the gay community’s wrath like a stick in a hornet’s nest. All charges were dropped, of course.

As part of his early Advocate duties alongside co-founders Richard Mitch, Sam Allen and Bill Rau, the man also known as A.J. wrote a nightlife column under the pseudonym P. Nutz. RIP.

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