Seal Beach bids ‘Lucky’ John Domingue farewell

“Lucky John” Domingue is shown occupying his favorite chair at his favorite coffee shop. He passed away last week. Photo courtesy of Richard Shimizu

Seal Beach’s “Lucky John” Domingue earned a living giving other people pleasure. News of his death last week saddened his family, friends, and the Seal Beach community.

Information about funeral/memorial services was not available at editorial deadline.

You’ll find a bust of “Lucky John” Domingue in the liquor store at Main and Ocean, just above the ice cream cookies. (According to more than one person, he got a cookie at the local 7-Eleven before bed.) 

Flowers and a balloon adorned the table next to “his” chair at Bogart’s last Saturday.

Seal Beach Police Chief Phil Gonshak said Lucky John shook a good hand.

A gathering was held in his memory Saturday morning, June 26, at the pier where he frequently performed.

Domingue was a street entertainer, a professional performer for almost four decades, and a fixture of the pier area. He helped JoAnn Adams, of Bogart’s, organize the recent series of concerts in Eisenhower Park. 

News of his death passed quickly through the online community after Chase McCants Farrell posted the news on his Facebook page. (Farrell helped to solicit comments for this article.)

Farrell described him as an angel in her post on his page. 

“And I know that the majority of us will walk down the streets of Old Town, or the pier and see you in our minds eye,” Farrell wrote in her June 26 email. 

According to Adams, Lucky John was the first customer in the morning and he frequented the coffee shop during the day. “We did not always agree but we had some lively discussions,” Adams wrote. 

“Over the past year he initiated a meals delivery program for those who were housebound during the early months of the pandemic. He was always available to help our baristas if they needed something,” Adams wrote. 

“Last summer he offered to work with us to build a great music series in Eisenhower Park, and with his connections we have hosted some amazing live music in town during a very challenging year. John always helped where he could, and I will miss his presence in his favorite leopard print chair at Bogarts,” Adams wrote. 

Glenn Sawada knew him for about 15 years.

“I knew him very well from late night walks home from friends houses, just chatting at 3am was his favorite. Peace and quiet. When we would part ways, he would go get a cookie at [7-Eleven] before bed,” Sawada wrote.

“He became a staple in Seal Beach … if you walked around town, then you knew John,” Jon Cockrill wrote. 

“At first, he was known for his bright bleached hair and his classic ‘comedic thrill’ act of hammering a huge nail into his nose —it was quite a performance. But then, something happened to our small, quaint town: a pandemic, a conflict in beliefs, and a strange divide in our ‘Mayberry-like’ community,” Cockrill wrote. 

“‘Lucky John’ not only helped our struggling musicians; but more importantly, helped our town put down our differences and come together at the pier – to smile, laugh, and listen to live music,” Cockrill wrote.

Mitchell De Jarnett described him as one of those people who become guardians of the community.

“He continually found ways to be of service and I will always remember his kindness, his strength, and the love, that he shared with our community. Godspeed, dearest John,” De Jarnett wrote.

According to Trish Diaz, one of his favorite subjects was his daughter. She wrote that he beamed with pride and love for her. “John’s laugh could be heard from across the street and around a corner or two. Man I’m gonna miss his laugh,” Diaz wrote.

“When the City was trying to get rid of Bubba the pig, John took a leadership role in advocating for Bubba and her owner, Madonna, who sadly died of cancer. Thanks to John and many others, she kept her beloved pig,” wrote Cathy Goldberg.

Seal Beach Police Chief Phil Gonshak ranked among Domingue’s friends.

“You can tell a lot by someone who simply reaches out to shake your hand upon introduction. One that there is a form of mutual respect, even if you’re strangers to one another. And two, whether he/she/they truly mean it,”Gonshak wrote. 

“When I first met Lucky John 13 years ago, my Beach Patrol Team partner, Captain Michael Henderson and I watched him hammer a railroad nail up his nose next to the foot of the Seal Beach Pier. From that moment on, I knew this was going to be a fun guy to get to know,” Gonshak wrote. 

“I shook his hand immediately after he finished his performance and it was firm. His soulful eyes locked onto mine and I knew at that moment there would be some sort of kinship between the two of us for years to come. A police officer and a street performer, who knew?” Gonshak wrote. 

“Nonetheless, years went on and we’d stop to chat about the town for a few minutes, coffee would be sipped and performances would be had. Not sure if the performances were always legal at the time, but the point of this kinship was above that, as spirit of the law v. letter of the law always prevailed, ” Gonshak wrote.

“This was particularly important as everyone loved watching him and he could build a crowd – the likes of which I still haven’t seen done in this community. The last day I saw Lucky John was Monday, June 7, 2021, I was eating lunch at the Hangout (outside) with our West County SWAT Tactical Medic Physician, Josh Bobko, MD,” ” Gonshak wrote. 

“While eating, along walks Lucky John with his most recently outfitted tam/Phrygian cap hat that I never asked him the style of, another missed opportunity for a conversation with him. At any rate, he looked me square in the eyes, as he always did and said ‘Good day Phil’. I introduced him to Dr. Bobko and we exchanged pleasantries. A few weeks later, I learned of his passing. Lucky John shook a good hand and was one of the good guys. To say he will be missed is an understatement,” Gonshak wrote.