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ANTHONY SALDANA / COURTESY OF SALDANA

BEST BARTENDER

ANTHONY SALDANA He prefers to be called a bartender rather than a mixologist, but Anthony Saldana is Micky’s top man behind the bar. “We are more fine-tuned for speed and agility than mixing fancy drinks, because it’s always so busy,” Saldana told the Los Angeles Blade. Born and raised in Ontario, in the inland empire, Saldana has lived in LA for the last 10 years, and worked at Micky’s for most of that time. His first job after finishing UC Riverside was at Target as an executive manager. He says he was making $70,000 but on his first visit to Weho, a friend came running out of Micky’s with his shirt off, and told him they were hiring. “I went in and spoke with the manager, who tore my shirt off in the office. He takes one look at me, and says I can start Monday. I told him about my Target gig and what I was making. He laughed at me and said I’d make double that,” he says. Saldana waxes poetic about the days before the straight crowd discovered Weho. He explains that straight guys come in to hit on drunk girls, but they don’t drink as much. Trained using YouTube videos, this is the fourth year he’s won a Best Bartender title. In 2013, Grindr awarded him Best Bartender. He was flown to Vegas to receive the award. “I don’t know why I keep winning, because I’m kind of an asshole,” he admits sheepishly. He adds, “If you come into my bar, and you act shitty I’m going to call you out on it. I’m very protective of my customers. I’ve jumped over the bar and thrown people out. I take shots with all of my customers. They literally love it.” Saldana left home at 17 to “do his own thing.” Now fairly distant from his family he says people don’t get to choose to be born into a family. “I want to choose who I love. I don’t want to be forced to love people I don’t even get along with. I travel a lot, and I take my friends wherever I go.” His family found out about his being gay via social media. He almost married a girl. He has some complicated views on being gay, and says he gets pretty deep with customers about them all the time. “I was born a straight man. I was in love with this female, it wasn’t until my sophomore year I had my first gay experience. I think as a child something very small could alter your thought process. I feel like the

gay community always says ‘oh, you’re born gay,’ but if 10 percent of the community is born different than the other 90 percent, then that would make it a disability. I would hate to think that being gay is a disability. Personally I don’t want to be thought of as born gay… But, I’m gay now. “I definitely appreciate a beautiful female though… and have this girl Natalie in my life that I call my wife. We’re inseparable and we do everything together, and I swear she would get married in a heartbeat, but sexually I just can’t do it. I associate with being gay,” Saldano says. Single and dating, he has a staunch rule about never dating customers. He’s pressured a lot by men, and says he’s had to tell people he’s straight because it’s easier than telling men he’s not interested. Despite turning a few guys away, Salgado gets gifts — lots of them. At Christmas he received a Cartier love band worth $10,000. “I mentioned that I’d always wanted one, and the next thing you know it’s getting screwed on my wrist,” he says. He’s been given a Mercedes, taken on trips, and even had someone give him money for his sick father. “I mean people will give 10 to 20 percent to a church, whereas in the gay community they’ll give 20, 30 or 40 percent to the bars,” he says. Although he’s known by the tattoo inked on his flat stomach, complete with washboard abs, the days of bartending shirtless are over. A gym rat, Saldano says to keep his liver from completely failing, he only does shots of tequila, and his favorite is Don Julio anejo – always with a slice of orange. (REBEKAH SAGER)

MICKY’S 8857 Santa Monica Blvd. 310-657-1176 mickys.com

BEST BARTENDER, EDITORS’ CHOICE

CORY ZWIERZYNSKI

Bartender and star of “What Happens at The Abbey,” Cory Zwierzynski is the editors’ pick for Best Bartender. For nearly 25 years, The Abbey has dominated gay nightlife in West Hollywood. And Cory is almost as famous, thanks to his starring role on “What Happens at The Abbey.” “When you start working at The Abbey,” Corey told the Los Angeles Blade, “it’s like joining a big family. We don’t just work together; we have a good time together. We have so many regulars at The Abbey that they are all part of the family too.” Corey’s favorite moment at The Abbey so far? “People dancing to Diana Ross’ music on the dance floor with Diana Ross. It doesn’t get more memorable than that.”

THE ABBEY 692 N Robertson Blvd. 310-289-8410 theabbeyweho.com

BEST DJ

STEVE AOKI Steven Hiroyuki (Aoki) is one of the world’s most influential DJs. He certainly has the whole EDM circuit world jumping at venues around the world. But he’s really just an ordinary guy who grew up Newport Beach and attended USCB. He holds degrees in feminist studies and sociology. But while in college, a spark captured his imagination when he produced a do-ityourself record and began running underground concerts at Isla Vista, a section of residential land adjacent to UCSB. The venue became known as The Pickle Patch and it changed Aoki’s life. In his early 20s, Aoki built his own record label, which he named Dim Mak – a reference to his childhood hero, Bruce Lee. Aoki has won and been nominated for a number of industry awards, both in annual competitions and in magazine rankings. In 2007, he

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Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 2, January 26, 2018  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 2, January 26, 2018

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 2, January 26, 2018  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 2, January 26, 2018

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