LONG BEACH — Fire investigators are still trying to determine what caused iconic queer gift shop Hot Stuff to catch fire and suffer massive damage that has closed the store since last week.
“Investigators do not believe it was arson, but are still trying to determine the origin and cause of the fire,” said Brian Fisk, a spokesman with the Long Beach Fire Department.
Hot Stuff, the renowned LGBTQ novelty shop on Broadway nestled between Thai Haus and Chen’s Chinese Restaurant, caught fire Friday morning about 4 a.m., Fisk said.
Neighbors saw billows of smoke pouring out from the roof and immediately called the fire department. Trucks arrived with three and a half minutes, and firefighters extinguished the blaze within 15 minutes, Fisk said.
The interior of the store was blackened and a significant amount of merchandise was damaged. Nobody was injured, Fisk said.
Owner Barbara D’Alessandro has posted several messages on Hot Stuff’s Facebook page, including an image of a phoenix rising.
“Hello fans. We will be closed until further notice. Lots to clean up,” she wrote on one post. “Sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your support. We will keep you updated.”
HOT STUFF HISTORY
Hot Stuff opened in 1980, two years after disco diva Donna Summer released her smash single “Hot Stuff.” Owner Tony D’Alessandro was inspired by the song name and named the business Hot Stuff.
For 38 years, the store has catered to the queer community with edgy greeting cards, gifts, and novelties that typically only were available in West Hollywood.
The store stood out on the block with its hot pink and black awning and gay pride waving on the roof.
TRIBUTE TO HER BROTHER
Barbara took over the shop when Tony died in the early 1990s, said attorney Stephanie Loftin, a long-time friend of Barbara’s and frequent shopper at Hot Stuff.
“Barbara’s running has been running Hot Stuff as a tribute to her brother,” Loftin said. “She’s been a community stalwart to keep the store open.
“Hot stuff is the go-to place for gay community and gay themed- gifts,” Loftin said. “Now where will we go?”
Phillip Zonkel can be reached at 562-294-5996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.