Chronicling the History of ‘Jewel’s Catch One’

Jewel’s Catch One Documentary Trailer from C. Fitz on Vimeo.

“Jewel’s Catch One,” a documentary on Jewel Thais-Williams, founder of the legendary Catch One nightclub, will be screened Feb. 11 and 20 at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles.

The documentary, by C. Fitz, tells the story of Thais-Williams’ decision to open Catch One, which she originally named Jewel’s Room, in 1973 as a welcome place for people of all sexual orientations and races and ethnicities. Thais-Williams, in an interview with Out, said that when she opened the club there were few disco clubs that welcomed women and people of color and some LGBT people went to heterosexual clubs where they had to keep their sexual orientation under wraps. ” When we opened and people found out this was a club opened by a lesbian, they came,” Thais-Williams said.

Catch One became the gathering spot for black lesbians and gay men in particular. It also attracted celebrities such as Madonna and Sharon Stone. At her club, referred to as the Studio 54 of the West, Thais-Williams also offered help to those with AIDS. She turned the parking lot into a soup kitchen at one point, offering food to those who were hungry.

The club, located at 4067 W Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles, closed in 2015. Thais-Williams now devotes more of her time to her Village Healthcare Foundation, which offers complementary care through acupuncture, nutrition, Chinese medicine and herbal therapy.

The film is narrated by C.C.H. Pounder and features interviews with Sharon Stone, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Thelma Houston, Sandra Bernhard, Bonnie Pointer, Thea Austin and Jenifer Lewis and includes footage from Madonna’s 2000 album release party there (she was rumored to have learned to vogue at the club). It also features some of the most famous songs from the disco age.

Fitz, through her creative agency, Dancing Pictures, has conceptualized and produced a variety of broadcast and social media campaigns for Pepsi, HBO, Fox, Showtime and Disney. “Jewel’s Catch One” is her third feature documentary.

The Feb. 11 screening will be at 8:25 p.m. at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Theatre, 4020 Marlton Ave, Los Angeles. The Feb. 20 screening will be at 12:15 p.m., followed by a disco “tea dance” and fundraiser to benefit Village Health Care Foundation. The tea dance is from 2 to 7 p.m. at the former Catch One club at 4067 Pico Boulevard. Attendees are asked to donate $10 or more. Tickets for both screenings are $13.75 and $10 for those 62 and over. They can be purchased online.