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The Bohemian Club is a prominent private men's club in San Franciscomarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker.

Its clubhouse is located at 624 Taylor Street in San Francisco. Founded in 1872 from a regular meeting of journalists, artists and musicians, it soon began to accept businessmen and entrepreneurs as permanent members, as well as offering temporary membership to university presidents and military commanders who were serving in the San Francisco Bay Areamarker.

Today, the club has a diverse membership of many prominent local and global leaders, ranging from artists and musicians to leading businessmen.



In New York City and other American metropolises in the late 1850s, groups of young, cultured journalists flourished as self-described "bohemians" until the American Civil War broke them up and sent them out as war correspondents. During the war, reporters began to assume the title "bohemian," and newspapermen in general took up the moniker. "Bohemian" became synonymous with "newspaper writer". California journalist Bret Harte first wrote as "The Bohemian" in The Golden Era in 1861, with this persona taking part in many satirical doings. Harte described San Francisco as a sort of Bohemia of the West. Mark Twain called himself and poet Charles Warren Stoddard bohemians in 1867.

The Bohemian Club was originally formed in April 1872 by and for journalists who wished to promote a fraternal connection among men who enjoyed the arts. Journalists were to be regular members; artists and musicians were to be honorary members. The group quickly relaxed its rules for membership to permit some people to join who had little artistic talent, but enjoyed the arts and had greater financial resources. Eventually, the original "bohemian" members were in the minority and the wealthy and powerful controlled the club. Club members who were established and successful, respectable family men, defined for themselves their own form of bohemianism which included men who were bons vivants, sometime outdoorsmen, and appreciators of the arts. Club member and poet George Sterling responded to this redefinition:
 Despite his purist views, Sterling associated very closely with the Bohemian Club, and caroused with artist and industrialist alike at the Bohemian Grovemarker.


A number of past membership lists are in public domain, but modern club membership lists are private. Some prominent figures have been given honorary membership, such as Richard Nixon and William Randolph Hearst. Members have included 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 among the most active members. The club's bylaws require about one quarter of the membership be accomplished artists of all types (composers, musicians, singers, actors, lighting artists, painters, authors, etc). Artistic members are admitted after passing a stringent audition demonstrating their talent.

Bohemian Grove

The club's mascot owl cast in masonry perched over the main entrance at 624 Taylor.
The owl is flanked by the letters B and C and surrounded by words of the club's motto
Every year the club hosts a two week long (three weekends) camp at Bohemian Grovemarker, which is notable for its illustrious guest list and its eclectic Cremation of Care ceremony which mockingly burns "Care" (the normal woes of life) with grand pageantry, pyrotechnics and brilliant costumes, all done at the edge of a lake and at the base of a forty-foot 'stone' owl statue. In addition to that ceremony, there are also two outdoor performances (dramatic and comedic plays), often with elaborate set design and orchestral accompaniment. The more elaborate of the two is the Grove Play, or High Jinks, the more ribald is called Low Jinks. More often than not, the productions are original creations of the Associate members but active participation of hundreds of members of all backgrounds is traditional.

Bill Clinton heckler

On October 26 2007, in Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker, 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.

See also


  1. The Mark Twain Project. Explanatory Notes regarding the letter from Samuel Langhorne Clemens to Charles Warren Stoddard, 23 Apr 1867. Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
  2. Ogden, Dunbar H.; Douglas McDermott; Robert Károly Sarlós Theatre West: Image and Impact, Rodopi, 1990, pp. 17–42. ISBN 9051831250
  3. The Elite directory for San Francisco and Oakland, Argonaut Publishing Co., 1879, pp. 175–184.
  4. Bohemian Club. Constitution, By-laws, and Rules, Officers, Committees, and Members, Bohemian Club, 1904, p. 11. Semi-centennial high jinks in the Grove, 1922, Bohemian Club, 1922, pp. 11–22.
  5. Garnett, 1908.
  6. Domhoff, 1975.
  7. Clinton Bohemian Club Heckler "Clinton makes 'naked' attack", CNN video, October 26, 2007

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