When It Comes to Neon, West Hollywood Rivals Las Vegas for Flash

La Fonda neon sign on Santa Monica Boulevard
La Fonda neon sign on Santa Monica Boulevard

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]est Hollywood has never been known for subtlety. From the 1920s, when an influx of nightclubs and casinos began to turn Sunset Boulevard into the now-famous Sunset Strip, to today, when Santa Monica Boulevard also is a center for noisy nightlife, West Hollywood style has been defined in part by loud sounds and bright color and brighter lights.

Joshua Barash has documented the city’s love affair with the loud and the bright in a series of photographs of West Hollywood’s seemingly ubiquitous neon signs. It doesn’t seem all that unusual that nightspots like The Roxy and Rage and Micky’s would use neon signage to catch a clubgoer’s eye. But, as Barash illustrates so well in his work, even restaurants (Baby Blues BBQ, Saddle Ranch Chop House), thrift stores (Out of the Closet), pet shops (Collar & Leash), and “adult” emporiums (Unicorn Alley, Pleasure Chest, and Studs Theater) use neon to lure diners, shoppers, pet lovers, and those in search of “adult” pleasures through their doors.

Barash, who has lived in New York City and Toronto as well as Los Angeles (his current home) has worked for a number of newspapers and magazines. He now is primarily a commercial photographer and has worked for the City of West Hollywood, which hosts many of his photos on its website. Fans of his work and potential clients can see more of his work on his website joshuabarashphotography.com. On the pages that follow are a selection of his neon portraits plus others in the Museum of Neon Art collection, organized by subject.