The Bohemian Club
is a prominent private club
in San Francisco
Its clubhouse is located at 624 Taylor Street in San Francisco. Today, the club has a diverse membership of many prominent local and global leaders, ranging from artists and musicians to leading businessmen. Founded in 1872, it was modeled on New York's prominent Century Club.
The club was originally formed exclusively by and for journalists
, who lamented the lack of art and culture in post-gold rush
San Francisco and wanted to capture something of la vie bohème
which had become popularized among the avant garde
of the United States at the time. It quickly was apparent that the group needed to relax its rules for membership and permit some people to join who had no artistic talent, but had major financial resources. Pretty soon, the "bohemian" writers were on their way out and the wealthy and powerful were in control of the club - something which remains true today. The membership lists are private, and only a few people outside of the club ever have seen them. Some prominent figures are given honorary membership only, such as Richard Nixon
and William Randolph Hearst
Members include some U.S. presidents (usually before they are elected to office), many cabinet officials, and CEOs of large corporations, including major financial institutions. Major military contractors, oil companies, banks (including the Federal Reserve), utilities, and national media have high-ranking officials as club members or guests. Many members are, or have been, on the board of directors of several of these corporations. However, artists and lovers of art are still among the most active members of the club, and the Club's bylaws still require that there be a certain number of artists, writers, and other academics.
Every year the club hosts an annual three week camp at Bohemian Grove
, which is notable for its illustrious guest list and its eclectic Cremation of Care
ceremony involving human sacrifice imagery at the feet of a forty-foot stone owl. In addition to that ritual, there are also two outdoor performances, often with elaborate set design and orchestral accompaniment. The more elaborate of the two is called the High Jinx
, the less elaborate and expensive of the two is the Low Jinx
. More often than not, the productions are original creations of the "Talent" members, and the stage crew is composed of the regular members; corporate CEOs, bank presidents, politicians, etc. The club's motto, "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here", is featured in the club's logo, around a stern-looking owl.
Bill Clinton Heckler
On October 26 2007
, in Minneapolis, Minnesota
, former President Bill Clinton
was heckled during a speech by a man claiming that the September 11 attacks
were a fraud and mentioning the Bohemian Club. Clinton denied the 9/11 claim and then sarcastically added, "Did you say the Bohemian Club? That's where all those rich Republicans go up and stand naked against redwood trees right? I've never been to the Bohemian Club but you oughta go. It'd be good for you. You'd get some fresh air." The heckler was escorted out of the hall as Clinton made his remarks.
- The pseudo-biographical book PiHKAL by Ann & Alexander Shulgin includes a description of some activities of one "Shura Borodin" (presumably Alexander Shulgin), a member of the "Owl Club" (presumably the Bohemian Club). In his description of participating in the two-week summer event (probably in the 80s), he estimates there are about 2,000 regular guests and around 100 musicians and other sorts of performers.
- List of American gentlemen's clubs
Bohemian Club in general