The Wing, Its ‘Women Only’ Policy Not Flying, May Admit Men in West Hollywood

An illustration of the interior of The Wing in West Hollywood.

The Wing, a women-only version of the SoHo House that is set to open its first Southern California location in West Hollywood this spring, may actually let men in the door.

The Insider, a news website, has reported that the private club and co-working space for women earlier this year dropped its ban on men as members or guests after facing a $12 million lawsuit from a man claiming gender discrimination. However, the Insider reports that other factors may have been an investigation into the club’s sexual discrimination policy by the New York City Commission on Human Rights and concerns about the policy expressed by transgender and non-binary members of the club. “Non-binary” is a term used to describe people who identify as neither male nor female.

The Wing will be one of the tenants in the three-story building under construction at 8550 Santa Monica Blvd., occupying close to 9,000 square feet on the third floor. Because of construction, its opening, originally scheduled for January, was pushed to March 26 and now apparently will be postponed a while longer. The 8550 Santa Monica building will include a Sprouts grocery store, a gym/fitness studio, a restaurant/café and rooftop parking. It is a project of Michael Talla, who owns the building on its west side that houses Capitol Drugs Pharmacy, the LASC clothing store and the 24 Hour Fitness gym.

The Wing was founded in 2016 by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan and currently has locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City, in Washington, D.C. and in San Francisco. The company is said to have attracted more than $117 million in funding and to have roughly 8,000 members. They include celebrities like Glenn Close, Laura Dern, Lena Dunham, Jennifer Lawrence, Chelsea Manning, and Hari Nef, the transgender actress and Gucci model.    It also is the publisher of a magazine titled No Man’s Land. Last week The Wing and Time’s Up, the women’s activist organization, announced that they will work together to stage events to help advance women in the workplace.

8550 santa Monica blvd., west hollywood
A view west of 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. (Design by Architect DLR Group)

“The Wing offers a space focused on impact and creating communities at scale, which is key to empowering women and diversifying new industries. In Los Angeles, The Wing hopes to bring women together from all over the city,” said a spokeswoman for The Wing in an email to WEHOville.

“With partnerships already established with key players in the entertainment industry and a slew of celebrity members and supporters part of our community, we want to offer our members creative and thoughtful programming that they would not otherwise have access to outside of our space.

“… With technology companies setting up shop in LA we hope to be a space for entrepreneurs like our founders to come together and grow their own businesses in the technology industry and beyond.”

The lawsuit that may have inspired The Wing’s relaxation of its membership policy was filed in June 2018 by James Pietrangelo, who was denied membership in The Wings Washington, D.C., location.  Pietrangelo, an attorney known for representing himself in the filing of a number of lawsuits, said he was told that men could not become members.  His lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, seeks damages of at least $75,000 and up to $12 million.

Whether Pietrangelo’s lawsuit will succeed is unclear. It apparently is based on the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act, which bars public-serving businesses from denying service to people because of their sex or gender identity. Supporters of the lawsuit argue that The Wing is, in effect, a business and not a club because of the array of services it offers.

Also complicating matters is The Wing’s claim that on Sept. 24, 2018, it had implemented a membership policy that says “all applicants will be evaluated based on their commitment to The Wing’s mission, regardless of their perceived gender identity.” The Wing claimed then that it previously had not had any policy relative to gender identification, although the Insider reports that Audrey Gelman said in a TV interview in May of last year that the club was open only to “women, self-identifying women, trans women, and individuals who don’t identify of the gender binary. That is our membership policy.”  Jezebel reported in March 2018 that the club’s membership policy stated that “Men cannot become members or visit as guests.”

The Wing also has been criticized for its exclusivity. In his lawsuit, Pietrangelo noted that only 8% of applications for membership in The Wing’s clubs were granted. The club’s membership fees start at $2,350 a year.

The Wing will be the latest in a series of expensive and exclusive private clubs to open in West Hollywood, a city whose identity has changed dramatically since it was incorporated in 1984 in a campaign to ensure affordable housing and gay rights.  They include the newly opened San Vicente Bungalows, which consist of a portion of the renovated San Vicente Inn at 845 N. San Vicente Blvd., and the SoHo House at 9200 Sunset Blvd., which opened 10 years ago.  Then there is the Arts Club, a members-only club planned for 8920 Sunset Blvd. at Hillcrest.  Another project in the works is AllBright West Hollywood, a private membership club exclusively for working women that plans to open at 8474 Melrose Place early next summer. It will be just outside the city limits.

The members-only clubs will be pricey. Annual fees at AllBright will be $2,100 ($1,100 for women 29 and under), with a $300 initiation fee. Membership at the San Vicente Bungalows costs $4,200 a year, or $1,800 for those 35 and under. The initiation fee will be $1,800 (only $500 for those 40 and under). (One must be invited in order to apply for membership to the San Vicente Bungalows).

The SoHo House is said to charge $2,000 annually or $2,800 for access to all of its clubs around the world. It’s not clear what the Arts Club will charge, but in London a membership in the club for artists and writers and other creatives is the equivalent of $2,558 in U.S. dollars as is the initiation fee. SoHo House, the Arts Club and AllBright all are offshoots of clubs based in London.


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Margaret
Guest
Margaret

This is a space designed for women to be comfortable amongst other women. I cannot believe people are fighting against it. Women have been abused and undervalued forEVER, and now finally have a space to feel at ease without the chance of being intimidated/sexualized by men. Not saying that all men do this, of course, but most women can tell you about a time they were intimidated/sexualized by a man in the workplace. How many men can tell you that? Probably not many.

Jrose
Guest
Jrose

Your heart is in the right place, but The Wing is not the hill to die on. First of all, it’s for wealthy women, hardly an underserved class of people. Second, with an acceptance rate of only 8%, the club can publicy be “open to all,” including men, while privately continuing to accept only women as members, since the death of affirmative action allows private businesses to be race or gender exclusive with impunity, as long as it’s not their “official” policy.

Mitchell Karin
Guest
Mitchell Karin

They need to be called out on this. West Hollywood has a long history of fighting discrimination. Many of us remember when it was perfectly acceptable to exclude gays. Now they are going to discriminate in our front yard! No way! They should be called out on this in all of their clubs wherever located.

Mitchell Karin
Guest
Mitchell Karin

This concept is woefully behind the times when more and more young people are starting to identify as non binary and gender neutral. The model for the future should be clubs where we can all feel at home, not clubs that exclude people based on their sex.

Cy Husain
Guest

There is a clear need here to bring about an understanding of Radical or Marxist Feminism vs. Bourgeois Feminism! The idea of Men just being inherently bad that Women need protecting from by establishing Women’s ONLY spaces is an example of Bourgeois Feminism, in stark contrast to Radical Feminism that looks understanding to Social and Political structures that promote patriarchy. Well of course this Women’s ONLY business model is embraced by the establishment, it gives the “system” a free pass from having to assume any responsibility in its role in establishing oppressive policies toward Women in the first place. Better… Read more »

Andrew Antifa
Guest

I have seen your comments before and wonder, why are YOU NOT running for office? WeHo needs some one like AOC or Cy!

Charles Anteby
Guest
Charles Anteby

No men allowed is the same as no Jews, no blacks, no women, etc. And, as the article states, there are the gender-neutral potential customers. I know I won’t go there because of what’s truly in the owners’ hearts. Women only is discriminatory and not “inclusive or diverse” (popular terms these days) . It’s wrong and goes way way way way way too far in the wrong direction. Who do these people think they are????

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

#1. That is not that expensive, I pay that much between 24 hour fitness and Crunch. although we don’t know what kind of special services THEY get. #2 Who cares? give them all the space they need so we don’t have to hear the b*tching and non-stop talking in public. #3 let’s have a Men’s private club with nude dancers. West Hollywood has at least two strip with female dancers. But, that doesn’t bother Women because the dancers are taking cash from Men. #4 Women do not want equal rights, they want special rights. Buy a guy a diamond engagement… Read more »

weho adjacent
Guest
weho adjacent

“#4 Women do not want equal rights, they want special rights. Buy a guy a diamond engagement diamond, ,lift the toilet seat, open the door for him, pick up a check a check at dinner once in a while, pay the mortgage, take out the trash, etc..”

This comment is so gross and a great example of how gay men can be misogynist.

I have seen this come from conservatives all the time: “LGBT people don’t want equal rights, they want special rights”

Michael Blue Book
Guest
Michael Blue Book

The Wing has to be one of the ugliest new buildings in West Hollywood. It’s like something you couldn’t even find in East Berlin prior to the wall coming down.

As for private clubs, let me quote Groucho Marx: “I sent a letter to the club chairman, stating: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to a club that would accept people like me as a member.”

Womens Values
Guest
Womens Values

Setting women’s values back at least 50 years. In polite society there have always been women’s clubs and men’s clubs and no one got into a flutter about it. This concept while perhaps well intentioned, seems amateurish plus the interiors look awful and dated. Nonsensical, a potential formula for failure. Next.

JF
Guest
JF

and track lighting?!

John Fitzgerald Keitel
Guest
John Fitzgerald Keitel

OMG! Thank you for this article. It feels like one of those, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” thing, only in a negative way. I don’t have issues with any of the clubs listed herein, although The Wings’ “Girls Only” policy extending even to guests does seem unnecessarily harsh. But, taken as a whole, I’m a bit aghast, especially about the newly repurposed and evidently upscaled San Vicente Bungalows (“evidently” because I haven’t been rushed by the secret selection committee, yet, let alone granted a bid inviting me to become a dues paying member of its… Read more »

Observer
Guest
Observer

Yes, the City of West Hollywood owns that property.

Joan Henehan
Guest
Joan Henehan

The better approach might be found in basing membership suitability on details other than gender. The gender aspect is something that society seems to be making an effort to rise above.

jimmy Palmieri
Guest
jimmy Palmieri

I hated this idea from it’s inception. Weho has core values, and discrimination or elimination by gender, age, etc. don’t line up with them . I was stunned that this business model was even accepted.

Ken Howard
Guest
Ken Howard

Amen! Discrimination of this kind CANNOT be allowed in the City of West Hollywood. I hope these people lose their entire investment from lawsuit settlements, and I’m ready to take my share. They deserve SEVERE punishment for their elitism, misandry, and anti-gay hate in a City that was founded on the exact opposite values.

Jim Nasium
Guest
Jim Nasium

Another private club in West Hollywood, and one that’s living in the 2000s. Considering restrooms are now open for all, you’d think this club’s concept would have been dead as far back as 2017.