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Cher Surprises Crowd at The Abbey, Celebrating Relaunch


Time stops when Cher enters a room.

Everywhere she went Thursday night, the crowd followed at the relaunch party of The Abbey, the renown LGBTQIA+ bar, restaurant and nightclub opened in 1991 in West Hollywood by David Cooley. It’s now a new era for the hot spot, which was acquired by Tristan Schukraft last year.

“I spent the evening with Cher,” Schukraft smiled after taking the stage with the music icon. “Amazing, right? You know when sometimes you meet celebrities and they’re not what you expect? She far exceeded all expectations.”

Cher surprised the crowd with “Song for the Lonely”; Schukraft, too, didn’t see it coming. “She wasn’t supposed to sing,” he said. “That was kind of a very important moment. But those are the best moments, right? Very unscripted.”

Cher was there to celebrate Pride Month but also to showcase Cherlato, her gelato company, which currently has a pop-up at The Abbey. She told the audience, “The one thing I have to say that’s serious, that is from my heart, is that I’ve had really ups and downs in my career, I mean really, and you guys never left me.”

Guests included event host Law Roach; Saweetie, who also performed; Ricky Martin; Jean Smart; Lance Bass, and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez.

Schukraft was taking it in.

“Never in a million years I thought I was going to buy The Abbey so when I’m there on the dance floor and I see all these people, I can’t believe it’s really mine,” he said. “I’m here with Cher. I’m talking to Ricky Martin. It’s kind of cool.” With a pause, he added, “I was about to propose to Ricky Martin and then Cher interrupted. That was my only complaint about Cher tonight,” he laughed.  

The Abbey is one of five clubs Schukraft owns, along with three hotels and 75 percent of the Fire Island Pines commercial district in New York, one of the biggest queer community hubs in the U.S. It’s dubbed him “the CEO of everything gay.”

When Schukraft, a tech entrepreneur, learned The Abbey was for sale it was by chance through a realtor. He bought it — reportedly for $27 million — to make sure it stayed in the hands of the gay community, he said.

“For me, it’s about protecting the institution,” Schukraft continued of the acquisition. “It’s a safe space for the queer community, right? You know, you can come to meet friends, hang out with old friends. It’s a place to celebrate victories, a place to regroup when you lose some of those fights. But it’s just so important. And I think if it’s gone, what would be here? Condos? No. The Abbey is iconic, it’s world famous. But it’s like a mall. If Macy’s goes then all the other stores start faltering. So, it’s really the anchor of West Hollywood, and it’s really important to protect these institutions.”

How will he put his mark on The Abbey?

“We’re not going to change too much. You know, we’re bringing in new ideas, outside promoters, new DJs, changing up the programming. We’re keeping it fresh. I mean, we’re in the hospitality business….People come out for an escape to be entertained, to have fun, so you gotta keep it fresh.”



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