Hawai’i’s Got Pride: Spotlight on Jack Law

It took the co-founder and owner of Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand four years to make money, but the innovative bar still thrives today.
07 23 Hb Pride Profiles Web Hero 2 Jack Law

“Let’s set up 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 are still going strong.

Law was born in Philadelphia and raised in Michigan and West Palm Beach, Florida. He came to Hawaii in 1966 and soon became friends with Magoon, a local businessman and songwriter. “We started a band, Potted Palm, in the ’60s, and I was running the band and a few others in Waikīkī. At the time, I was really inundated with live music.”

Hula’s opened at the corner of Kūhiō Avenue and Kālaimoku Street. (Moved to the Waikīkī Grand in 1998.) Despite their initial optimism, Law and Magoon discovered 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 made a profit.

“People ask if this was the first LGBTQ+ bar and it wasn’t,” says Law. “Waikīkī has always been a destination for LGBTQ+ people. But Hula’s was unique, open air and the disco was just getting started.”

Law and Magoon also opened the now-defunct Wave Waikīkī in 1980, which, Law says, “had a totally different vibe. The later, the crazier he got.”

About five years before Magoon’s death in 2018, Law bought out his interest and became the sole owner. Now that he is semi-retired, Law enjoys traveling, with recent trips to Peru, Panama and Argentina.

Law was a founding member of the Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps people with HIV/AIDS. “We started it right on time,” recalls Law. “AIDS was horrendous. We went to funerals once a week. The church wanted nothing to do with them. [people with AIDS], the government did not want, their families did not want. We have some good grants and good legislation. The organization, as we speak, continues to do good things.”

He also founded the non-profit 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 who do business with the LGBTQ+ community? It’s simple: “I would say it’s respect. Respect and aloha.”