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Friday, December 15, 2006

Another View on the Woodshed

We reported back a while ago on the battle that former porn star Jeff Stryker (whose real name is Charles Peyton) was having with the owner of a boho NoHo performance space.

The battle has been framed as the bohemian artists against the gay porn star (actually Peyton was known for doing straight as well as gay porn). However another local business owner who neighbors the performance venue has spoken up and though he's not a huge fan of Peyton's tactics his view of the venue (which has allegedely been in violation of city codes for some time) are fairly close.

Here is what the business owner submitted to us:

Re: Kulaks Woodshed

Just to give you another perspective on this controversy. This battle has been going on for over 3 years and Paul has constantly made this out to be a battle between himself and his neighbor to the south of him because he can portray it as a battle of Porn vs. Music which generates good press and sympathy from his fan club. Mr. Peyton also makes himself an easy target because he is quite outspoken, doesn't mince words, and has a short fuse. Paul also has attacked him with lies and false charges which I know on 2 accounts to be completely false because I was with Mr. Peyton at the time 2 of these incidents supposedly occurred and one of his patrons came forward and testified that he had asked her to falsely lie that she witnessed an attack. You should also realize his work has been disrupted the most due to the fact that he routinely works 7 nights a week at his place of business and his work requires a certain amount of solitude. He has been a neighbor for ten years and his nightly presence and his surveillance cameras have curtailed a lot of the graffiti and trash dumping in the alley that went on before he arrived. But enough defending him.

I am the neighbor on the north side and I have spent a considerable amount of time fighting this operation over the last 3 years. I, and others in the neighborhood, have testified at Neighborhood Council meetings (who voted against the variance), sub-committee meetings, variance hearings, appeal hearings, and City Council as to the detrimental effect it has on my business. The Woodshed started out as a small place (1/2 the space it is now) where after hours a few musician friends would stop by a couple of nights a week with their guitars and sing. Nice quiet music. Paul's own e-mail states "that he went to the city for permits to open the Woodshed but they told him that the area was not zoned for this type of operation but he decided to do it anyway, opening only nights and weekends in order to stay under the city radar". In a short time realizing the money making possibilities of having musicians playing for free he expanded it into the adjoining space, illegally knocking down walls and remodeling without the necessary permits. The Woodshed became an overnight success, suddenly operating seven nights a week and daytime Saturday's and Sunday's. And instead of just acoustical guitars it suddenly had amplifiers, sound boards, drums, pianos, bongos, electrical instruments, tubas, etc. It used every opportunity to hold fund raising events and attract bigger crowds. Patrons and musicians who take up all the parking on both sides of the street and into the adjoining neighborhood. I cringe when a patron states that "parking is never a problem" of course not, they come gradually until every spot is taken and stay for hours while my customer who arrives after has no place to park.

I often make evening appointments for my customers who work during the day and want to shop after regular hours. In addition I often come back to the office to work on blueprints and bids that I haven't finished during the day and if you look in my window you will see the work table I use three feet away from our common wall and maybe realize how hard it is to concentrate with all that thumping going on. In addition, my son, who was working part time while finishing college finally graduated and became full time. Our plans were that we would begin staying open evenings a few nights a week, as my competitors do, which we did during July and August 2006. It was a failure due to no parking and we have currently put our plans on the back burner.

In the meantime, a couple of years ago, the city found out about the Woodshed and has cited him numerous times for building, safety and fire violations. He has ignored them and twice been found guilty in court, ordered by the Judge to not operate, and put on probation. In spite of this he continues. Due to the support of Councilwoman Wendy Greuel the variance was granted over a year ago even though it was full of lies and deceit and went against the written Variance Law. Thanks to the Neighborhood Council and other testimony there were several conditions placed on the variance. Every single condition of the variance has been violated by Kulak and it has now been voided. I think it's ridiculous that Kulak has convinced some that the porn guy is responsible and all the city personnel involved are doing his bidding.

Although it's a lot of tedious reading and not all of it in the best of taste I suggest if your searching for the truth look at the 3 years of documentation at http://www.charlespeyton.com .

I think there are many fine musicians and patrons of the Woodshed but I also think that they have had the wool pulled over their eyes so that their donations keep on coming. The Woodshed never should have been here in the first place and it has long since outgrown it. Instead of donating to "SAVE THE WOODSHED VARIANCE" how about a "MOVE THE WOODSHED (to a legal location) " fundraiser. There are sure a lot of other venues in this city that seem to have done it. As one Neighborhood Council Member said " It’s not the building that makes Kulaks Woodshed but the musicians and the patrons".


Jim Britten


Anonymous Anonymous said:

If Mr. Britten doesn't have parking for his would-be night-time customers, perhaps he has a little zoning problem too.

December 15, 2006 5:13 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I agree, Britten does have a zoning problem. Kulaks illegal establishment and Wendy Greuels backing of it. I saw where the variance was granted while Kulaks was under criminal court order to not operate and was serving his 1st (of 2) 12 month sentences for illegal operation/zoning vilotions. Mr. Brittens right, I do not agree with the tactics of the Peyton/Stryker website but the information shows the criminal records. As a ex patron of Kulaks Woodshed I received a letter from Wendy Greuel basically supporting the facts on Peyton/Strykers site. She assisted Kulak in violation of a criminal court order and there was a Windows media clip of Dale Thrush acknowledging Kulak had been charged prior to the variance. Who is investigating Mrs. Greuels? criminal activity? When City council member Wendy Greuel aids a criminal to violate a criminal court order over 80 times in the 1st year as recorded on http://www.charlespeyton.com, then she is as guilty as a gun selling council person and should be prosicuted immediately.
I don't want criminals moving into Valley Village and opening up shop like that... And I want Clean City council members. Look at the precedence this has caused, no wonder you can find a massage parlor around every corner in valley Village.

Please bring attention to this and protect justice in my neighborhood.

December 18, 2006 6:38 PM  

Blogger ScottyFerguson said:

here is my opinion:

Peyton is correct and The Woodshed should be shut down. Valley Village should have this Greuel criminal put behind bars and The poor folks at the flooring business should no longer have to suffer from this.
Have a happy new year.

December 26, 2006 12:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Over two years have passed since this was originally posted, but passages of Mr. Britten's correspondence disturb me: phrases such as how Mr. Kulak 'realized moneymaking opportunities,' 'used every opportunity to hold fund raising events and attract bigger crowds,' and particularly ' musicians and patrons . . . have had the wool pulled over their eyes.'

Let's crunch a few numbers. I don't know what the Woodshed activities were in the past, but my experience, the 35-person audience limit has been strictly followed. Currently there are four nights a week where audiences are invited at a requested donation of $10, and two workshops supported by artists who are asked to donate $20 to participate (workshops are generally limited to about 10 artists per session, twice weekly).

Let's look at the theoretical maximum amount of revenue this can generate in one year:

Audience members = A

Workshop Participants = W

The Formula: [(A*10*4)+(W*20)]*52

So, if A=35 and W=20, the maximum amount per year that the Woodshed could gross from shows and workshops would be $93,600. Hey, not a bad haul, eh? Remember, however, this is the MAXIMUM THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE for shows. Read: NEVER GONNA HAPPEN. Granted, a certain number of donations (i.e. PayPal) and gifts are made, and there is also the matter of Mr. Kulak's outside video equipment rental service. I couldn't even hazard a guess at what these amounts might be.

However, I'm fairly certain that all of these amounts together would not equal Brittany Floor Covering's estimated annual sales of $450,000 per year. If it did, we're all in the wrong business. Never mind that doctor/lawyer stuff. Video equipment rental services and small acoustic venues are the paths to fortune!

According to Mr. Kulak's most recent newsletter, audience donations are down by one-third. Even assuming that workshops remain at a constant level, this means that the projected yearly intake for Woodshed activities falls to $68,640. Subtracting the monthly expenses as found at the Woodshed website ($5,278/month=$63,336/year), which would leave Mr. Kulak with a whopping $5,304 (plus other donations and his outside business). Remember, this is one-third less of MAXIMUM THEORETICAL LEVEL. Specifically, what Mr. Kulak stated was that donations were down one-third from LAST YEAR'S LEVEL - and THAT number I don't know, so the amount of $5,304 is probably a significant overestimate. (If the average falls to 20 persons/show, then yearly operating costs exceed donations made at the venue.)

Actually, the persons most qualified to comment on Mr. Kulak's finances are Mr. Britten and Mr. Peyton or, more accurately, their joint legal counsel. According to the L.A. Weekly article of January 2009, the Peyton/Britten lawsuit was poised for trial. From what I know about civil procedure, by this time a LOT of documentation has changed hands. No doubt Mr. Kulak's finances have been closely scrutinized. If the financial records do not reveal that Mr. Kulak has been hiding a fortune, then exactly WHO has had the "wool pulled over their eyes," Woodshed supporters or Mr. Britten?

One wonders whether any of the parties adverse to Mr. Kulak even bothered to employ the use of a simple calculator before filing their multimillion dollar lawsuit.

Speaking of the lawsuit, according to the draft complaint found on Mr. Peyton's website, other defendants in this case were to be the City of Los Angeles and (former) Councilwoman Wendy Greuel. Are they still defendants? How is this case progressing anyway?

Re: Mr. Britten's "parking problem": If you know customers are coming, reserve your own parking spaces, or perhaps park your trucks in the front of your store and let your patrons use your back parking spaces.

Re: Mr. Peyton's lack of ability to write a book: His multiple websites have already produced a lot of so-called reading material - available for free. Hasn't the public had enough . . .

March 19, 2009 11:05 PM  

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