Hawai‘i’s Got Pride: Spotlight on Jack Law
It took four years for the co-founder and owner of Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand to make money, but the groundbreaking bar still thrives today.
“Let’s start a bar! How hard can it be?”
The year was 1974, and Jack Law admits that he and his business partner, Bob Magoon, knew nothing about running a bar. Still, they must have had a good plan, as Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand is still going strong.
Law was born in Philadelphia and raised in Michigan and West Palm Beach, Florida. He arrived in Hawai‘i in 1966, and soon became friends with Magoon, a local businessman and songwriter. “We started a band, the Potted Palm – it was the ’60s – and I managed the group and a few others in Waikīkī. At that time, it was truly awash in live music.”
Hula’s opened at the corner of Kūhiō Avenue and Kālaimoku Street. (It moved to the Waikīkī Grand in 1998.) Despite their initial optimism, Law and Magoon found that running a bar was not, in fact, easy. “It took four years of losing money, and I mean a lot of money, before we turned a profit.
“People ask if this was the first LGBTQ+ bar, and it was not,” says Law. “Waikīkī has always been a destination for LGBTQ+ people. But Hula’s was unique, open air, and disco was just starting.”
Law and Magoon also opened the now defunct Wave Waikīkī in 1980, which, Law says, “had a totally different vibe. The later it got, the crazier it got.”
About five years before Magoon’s death in 2018, Law bought his interest out, and became sole owner. Now that he’s semi-retired, Law enjoys traveling, with recent trips to Peru, Panama and Argentina.
Law was a founding member of the Life Foundation, a nonprofit that helps those with HIV/AIDS. “We started it in the nick of time,” Law recalls. “AIDS was horrendous. We were going to funerals once a week. The church didn’t want to have anything to do with them [people with AIDS], the government didn’t want to, their families didn’t want to. We got some good grants and some good legislation. The organization is, as we speak, still doing good things.”
He also founded the nonprofit Honolulu Gay and Lesbian Cultural Foundation in 1997. It serves as an umbrella organization for the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, originally started by Law as the Adam Baran Honolulu Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in 1989, in honor of his friend. “It’s one of the oldest and most respected LGBTQ+ film festivals in the world,” says Law.
His advice for those doing business with the LGBTQ+ community? It’s simple: “I’d say it’s respect. Respect and aloha.”