Carrie Rengers

Fantasy Complex may be closed but ‘simply never dies’

Kelley Hoffman would like to set a couple of things straight.

There have been lots of stories swirling about why she and a business partner closed the Fantasy Complex, a popular entertainment center at 3201 S. Hillside that Hoffman says “has been a big mainstay in the gay community,” but she says there’s only one reason that matters.

“It’s just time to stop,” Hoffman says.

“A lot of people are really upset,” she says. “It’s been a huge anchor for the gay-lesbian-trans community for 35 years.”

Linda “Linn” Copeland opened the business in 1980. When she died in 2005, Hoffman and her business partner, who declines to discuss the closing, took it over and made payments to a Copeland family trust. Hoffman says Copeland’s sister controls the trust.

“We were getting behind on payments to her, and it just had to end,” Hoffman says.

She says it wasn’t a case of the family forcing the business to close.

“I have great honor and respect for that family, and they have done nothing but be very kind to us.”

Hoffman says as homosexuality has become more accepted in society, it’s expanded the number of places where gay people may feel comfortable going.

“On the one hand, it’s great to be gay and have a diverse lifestyle,” Hoffman says.

On the other hand, she says, that’s taken away business from Fantasy.

“Straight people love our money,” Hoffman says.

She says that’s OK, too.

“We do truly have straight allies who have been wonderful.”

Also, with six acres, a pool, a volleyball court and a couple of large buildings, Fantasy required a lot of upkeep.

“It is very expensive to run six acres of property,” Hoffman says.

It’s now for sale, and some of the people who have been eyeing it would like to reopen Fantasy, she says.

“There have been a few who have brought that up.”

Though she has a day job as a general manager for GreenAcres Market, Hoffman, too, is considering possibly getting back in the bar business somewhere else.

“Once you’ve had your toe in it for 35 years, it’s kind of hard to pull it back out.”

Regardless of what happens, Hoffman knows how she wants Fantasy to be remembered.

“She’s a grand lady, and I’d like her to go out in the same way she came in,” Hoffman says.

“The Fantasy simply never dies. She changes, she ages. … But she’ll always be there … even if it’s just a passing thought of good times with friends.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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