On Saturday, July 9, Rad Coffee in Long Beach hosted Pride or Die, a mini-festival of vendors and entertainment curated by Horror in Color, which promotes diversity in the horror genre. With its punk-horror aesthetic, Rad Coffee was the perfect setting for the event, which featured live performances and vendors but mostly served as a gathering for genre fans celebrating LGBTQIA+ identity on the weekend of the annual Long Beach Pride festival.
Rad Coffee’s Long Beach location, which opened in June, makes fans of the company’s Upland and Covina locations feel right at home. The iconic logo beams down from a sign in the parking lot. The exterior wall is stenciled with cartoonish versions of familiar ghoulish figures. Neon skulls glow in the windows. Inside are pinball machines inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, and Tales from the Crypt, and skateboards sport designs mimicking poster artwork for exploitation horror films.
The menu is loaded with specialty coffee drinks that should be familiar to fans of Rad Coffee, including their signature Bonesbrew (two shots of expresso, cold brew concentrate, vanilla, cream). Blended drinks include Frankenstein (matcha green tea with vanilla mint, chocolate chips, and Oreos), The Bride (white chocolate with mint, chocolate chips, and Oreos), and Dracula (red velvet with organic almond, white chocolate chips, and black whipped cream).
Non-coffee drinks include lemonade-based concoctions with names such as Zombie (with blue orange syrup), Mad Tiki (with passion fruit, pomegranate, ginger), and Creature (with mint, pineapple). We opted for a vanilla lavender cold brew, which the barista warned was heavy on the lavender. He was not wrong, but the lavender blended well with the vanilla for a very pleasing result.
Specialty, whole-bean coffees are for sale, along with branded merchandise: t-shirts, travel mugs, and caps. The merch is accompanied by advertising posters that borrow imagery from the Halloween films, Creepshow, and VHS video nasties.
While the interior of Rad Coffee was crowded with flamboyantly dressed horror fans, the Pride or Die event took place in an adjoining, enclosed patio, which was festooned with colorful skulls, flyers for punk rock bands, and a life-sized mannequin dressed up to resemble Elvira, who was a camp icon long before actress Cassandra Peterson revealed her longtime romance with a female partner. The vibe was informal and relaxed, with the division between vendors and customers blurring until everyone seemed like one big group of fans, chatting on their favorite subject.
Vendor tables included event sponsor Horror in Color, 2 Cute 2 Spook Boutique, and Afro Horror. The latter is a podcast which, as the name suggest, offers a black perspective on the horror genre. We purchased a lapel pin depicting the teacup from the hypnosis scene in Get Out, then ran home to check out an entertaining podcast episode devoted to Sugar Hill (1974), one of our favorite blaxploitation horror movies, about a black woman who uses voodoo avenge herself against a mobster who killed her boyfriend. Horror in Color’s mission statement includes elevating marginalized voices in horror, and in at least some small sense they achieved their goal by bringing Afro Horror to our attention.
The address of Rad Coffee’s Long Beach location is is 3502 Atlantic Avenue. It is less than four miles from the joint location of Dark Arts Emporium and The 4th Horseman pizzeria, which provides a great opportunity to kill three bats with one stone, making the drive to Long Beach worthwhile residents of the surrounding Los Angeles area. The website is rad.coffee.
Read our review of Rad Coffee’s Covina location.
Rad Coffee Pride Or Die Photo Gallery
Thanks to Yuki Tanaka for providing many of the photographs.