Friday, April 15, 2005

Backstreet Is Alive

Council Member Starnes: I would like to personally ensure that you clearly understand what a disservice you have done to Atlantans in your actions to close down Backstreet Atlanta. You closed down a business that paid millions of dollars in taxes to the city of Atlanta yearly. Your hand brought down the axe that closed a business on the list of "Top Ten Things to do in Atlanta." This building, in all its daytime modesty, was a haven for Atlanta's gay population, which I'm sure you're aware is exploding. Not only was it a place of joy and acceptance for the gay community - this club opened its doors to EVERYONE, including the likes of celebrities such as Will Ferrell and Janet Jackson, to name only TWO of the numerous famous patrons.

Backstreet was a FAMILY business. You don't see many of those these days. I am a college student and I live with Andrea Vara. Her father and aunt, Henry and Vicki Vara, owned Backstreet, which they took over from their father when he passed away last year. This family gave not only financial support to the city of Atlanta, but they have all given their personal support to many of Atlanta's charitable endeavors over the past 30 years. I have attended NUMEROUS charity functions with my roommate within the past two years that I've known her and her family. This family prides themselves on being citizens of Atlanta and on their love for their community. They have given of themselves more graciously and more quietly than anyone I have EVER had the pleasure of knowing.

I hope that you have gotten some semblence of satisfaction out of closing an Atlanta landmark based on a few residents' complaints. That club has been in the same place for 30 years. Every single homeowner within its radius purchased their property with the knowledge that a popular club was operating nearby. And don't tell me that the noise level increased, because I know for a FACT that Backstreet was more orderly during the past 3 years than it ever has been. Due to prior complaints, the Varas hired off-duty Atlanta city police officers to keep order at the club. And, as I understand it, those officers were making more money at Backstreet than the city cared to pay them for their service.

So I'd like to thank you, Ms. Starnes. Thank you for putting a 3-generation family business out of operation. Thank you for deciding that a HANDFUL of citizen's complaints were more important than THOUSANDS of Atlantan's testimonies. I understand that you told the License Review Board that Backstreet was a "nightmare" that needed to be closed down. You were wrong. The nightmare is your term as an Atlanta City Council Member. Your interests lie in a personal position. Your job as a council member is to make decisions in the best interest of the entire city of Atlanta. Congratulations, Ms. Starnes. You have failed miserably.

Backstreet Lives On Through Us,
Camille ******


sarafina said...

Hi Camille,
I just read your comments on Rosie's blog and loved it. Your post touched me in so many ways. Aspects of your (life) post seem to be exactly what I am dealing with in my life right now....I can totally relate to you in many, many ways. Briefly I am married for 9 yrs, 3 beautiful children who are my life...and well you know the rest...
I also loved your comments regarding people begging and pleading for just an ounce of attention from Rosie. I can't go into details regarding my life on here, you know too public, but if you wanted to email me I would love to "hear" from someone who is basically traveling down a simialar path as myself. Best of luck on your RN degree...that is a great accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

I had the privilege of working for the Vera Family some years ago. I worked at Lavita's and Options over on Cheshire Bridge Road. Vicki and Henry Vera were complete gems to work for. They always treated the staff like their own family. I have been to Backstreet MANY times over the years and even had my bachelor-et party there in 2003 before I married my husband. I know the city gained high revenue from the club. What a shame the city didn't put all the millions from taxes to a good use! What a shame that ALL Atlantans lost such a fun and wonderful place. If people bought homes down the road from ANY club what in the world would you expect. Anyway, I hope your happy Ms. Starnes.

Funny thing is you have MY last name! I sure as hell hope we are not related.

Microsoft Your Grandfathers Software Company said...

I agree, so sad this is gone. Spent many many a night...leaving at 7a.m. after all night BONE SHAKING HOUSE telling how many MILLIONS the Vara's paid in taxes. I can assure you it's more than the 90% vacant Condo building they chose to put in it's place after tearing down an Atlanta Landmark. I wish they would have seen fit to have tried to fight this based on Sexual Orientation Discrimination. That might have worked going up through the different levels of courts. Atlanta is nothing like it was in the 90's---such a sad, dreary place it's become.