Credit: Ruscha, E. "Sunset Boulevard, 1966: Strip 32a: Image 0003" © Edward Ruscha 1966
In 1962, Alexei Romanoff was bartending at the Hy Spot, when he was approached by straight businesswoman Lee Roy. She wanted to partner with him to open a gay bar called the New Faces, on the site that became Circus of Books, located just down the street from The Black Cat. He said, "If I can remember right it [we painted it] black inside and our logo was the masks of Comedy and Tragedy." Romanoff was half-owner of the New Faces for the first few years of its existence, but he had a disagreement with Lee Roy and sold his share to her.
During the 1967 New Year's police raid at The Black Cat, Romanoff recalls: “The police officers got to the New Faces, which was not supposed to be raided that night, entered and said, ‘Who owns the bar?’ There was a bar manager and a bartender. The bartender was behind the bar [and] the bar manager said, ‘It’s Lee Roy.’ She was in a gown, because it was New Year’s Eve. They thought it was a man in drag, because the name was 'Lee Roy.' So they tackled her, broke her collarbone, beat her up, left her in a bloody mess on the sidewalk in front of the New Faces after they realized it was really a woman. They just left her there. They attacked the bar manager [and] the bartender started yelling. They grabbed him, pulled him over the bar, stomped on him, kicked him, they ruptured his spleen, broke his jaw and his skull, and he was completely bruised. They arrested the bartender and the bar manager plus 14 that were in [The Black Cat].”
"Between January 2nd and January 20th, police officers went in and out of the New Faces every night. They scared the customers away, and the bar closed on Jan. 21, 1967. So after five years the New Faces was closed down."
Romanoff took part in the demonstrations outside the Black Cat on February 11, 1967, which was one of the first in the United States protesting police brutality against LGBT people, and preceded the Stonewall riots by over two years. Romanoff was named Grand Marshal of LA Pride in 2017.
Ruscha, E. "Sunset Boulevard, 1966: Strip 32a: Image 0003" © Edward Ruscha 1966