Epitaph Records owner Brett Gurewitz has given a big boost to efforts to preserve the site of the original Masque--the launching pad of L.A.'s late-'70s punk explosion. Gurewitz is negotiating with the landlord of the Hollywood building in which the basement club was housed for a three-month lease so he can research the feasibility of turning it into a cultural center of some sort.

The club, which closed in 1979, has been left virtually untouched, with the walls still covered by graffiti from such essential figures as X, the Germs and the Go-Go's. X's Exene Cervenkova happened by the site recently just as workers were about to paint over the writing in preparation for the basement's being rented for storage. She was able to stop the work temporarily and held a party there last month to celebrate the release on her Year One label of a three-CD set of "Live From the Masque" recordings.

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