Pics, Pics & More Pics... Life's a Beach

By Will Seagers

 

Will Seagers with camera on Men's Hairstylist magazine cover

With camera on the Oct. 1975 cover of Men's Hairstylist Magazine

 

In keeping with the season, I have another photo spread blog for you. Beaches, beaches and more beaches in many corners of the country and outside, too!

This first photo was from the trade magazine Men's Hairstylist. It was shot by a prominent N.Y.C. Fashion photographer. And, my hair was clipped for the occasion by the legendary coiffeur of the time, Sabu. You see, I was in front of and behind the lens. Nothing to do with the beach, but it was coincidentally the Nikon I used in a lot of these shots.

Starting off at a very early age and living in the northern part of New Jersey, my family (parents/aunts & uncles) would shuttle the kiddies down to the "shore" on sultry hot summer days. Pic #1 is of Asbury Park. It was famous, festive and usually loaded with city escapees like me.

 

Ashbury Park, New Jersey
The beach at Asbury Park. Not from the 50s when I first went!

 

In 1963, my parents bought a house in West Deal located in Monmouth County about three miles from the beaches of N.J. This second pic is of the (evolved) Elberon Beach Club. When my family had a membership there, it was quite a bit simpler... but, still a great day at the beach!

 

Elberon Beach Club
Although a lot more glam than when I went in the 60s, a great beach and pool!

 

About four years later, my parents got the itch to move to the lovely shore community of Spring Lake about 15 miles south of W. Deal. It was a well-to-do community with a rich history. Picture #3 shows one of the remaining sprawling Victorian hotels left from the turn of the 20th century - The Essex and Sussex Hotel. Typical of the Jersey shore communities, one had to have a membership and badge to get on the beach or to the pool houses.

 

The Essex and Sussex Hotel
Where I spent my high school years - Spring Lake, N.J.
 

Fast forward to the early 70s and we have moi around the age of 21 clad in one of my first Speedos (striped to boot!), Picture #4. Although this pic was taken at the lovely guest house resort Arcos Blancos just south of San Juan's Condado area in Ocean Park, I was not posed near the wonderful pool or very entertaining bar for which they were famous. Actually, I think I had just finished a trick with the owner, again!

 

Will Seagers at Arcos Blancos, San Juan
Fresh off the Condado Beach of San Juan!
 

Now, the next sets of pictures refer back to the old question: which came first - the chicken or the egg? In this case it was both!

In the late 70s, I was shuttling frequently between my new home in San Francisco and my prior home in NYC... let's make that Fire Island! A simple headshot, Picture #5 was taken on the beach in The Pines... probably during a work break. For three years, I worked for John Whyte's Boatel as waiter, bartender and life guard. Pic #6 shows my lifeguarding domain. This pic was taken from the top deck of the Boatel to which the pool belonged. Pic #7 welcomes you into the private harbor, which was just down the boardwalk from Mr. Whyte's Blue Whale, where the grand institution of the "Tea Dance" was held every afternoon around 4. Pic #8 Shows another institution in The Pines for the muscle boys and those who aspired to be - Merrill's Gym. It was his back deck and boy did it get packed right after the beach and just before Tea Dance... guys getting their pre- Tea Dance pump! And, pic #9 shows how everything on that beach was beautiful... from the boys right down to the not-so-normal sand castles!

 

Will Seagers headshot at a Fire Island beach

Relaxing at the beach after my lifeguarding at the Pines' Boatel pool.

 

Boatel aerial shot
A nice aerial shot of my “domain" taken from the top deck of the Boatel!
 
s Fire Island Pines sign
Once you’ve been there you’ll never forget - Fire Island!
 
Fire Island gym images
The first “gym” on Fire Island - Merril’s Gym - where the boys would get a quick pump before showing up at Tea Dance!
 
Fire Island beach photos
There are no ordinary sand castles on Fire Island!
 

On the professional side of photography, I was proud to be selected for Pic #10, taken by the photo/artist Tom Bianchi, which appeared in his photo book, Fire Island Pines. Another man of many talents (DJ and photographer to mention just two), Henry Winslow, snapped a very impressionistic photo of me fresh out of the shower at my hosts Dr. Bob Oliveri's bayside Fire Island home in Pic #11.

 

Tom Bianchi photo of Will Seagers from his Fire Island Pines book
From the Tom Bianchi photo book, Fire Island Pines!
 
Henry Winslow photo of Will Seagers
One of my favorite “artsy” photos, taken by the multi talented Henry Winslow. Fresh off the beach and fresh out of the shower.
 

Back in town. For those who couldn't make it out to The Island, there was quite a nice consolation prize... The Christopher Street Pier. With the ruins of a former pier warehouse, lots of shenanigans went on... if the police were not in the vicinity! It's very truly yours sitting there for all to see in Pic #12. This was one of my first print work assignments for Man's Image Studios of New York. Barely legible along the left border of this picture is an autograph and message to my soon-to-be partner Tommy.

 

Will Seagers in Man's Image photo at Christopher Street Pier
At another “beach” in New York, the former Christopher St. Pier, I posed for an early Man's Image Studio photo shoot. That pier served valiantly as the local beach for the West Village.
 

Now, for the California portion of bi-coastal summer living! San Gregorio, located about an hour south of San Francisco, offered the quintessential "mountains meet the beach" west coast venue. Like Fire Island, it was clothing optional. That option was rarely chosen! Pic #13 shows the long and picturesque beach/mountain vista. Here again, in Pic #14, the no clothes option was taken! It was important to remember just how cold that Pacific Ocean water could be. Let's just say it had a shrinking effect! Many beach goers never set a toe in it!

 

San Gregorio nude beach
San Gregorio, just an hour south of San Francisco, was almost the perfect nude gay beach - except for ball-shrinking cold Pacific water!
 
Will Seagers at a nude beach
Quick in and quick out of those icy waters!
 

The other main area of interest just north of San Francisco was the Russian River Resort area. Pic #15 show me with both Tommy and my friend Roger in or near the river's edge. Both of these guys share a May 22nd birthday! Pic #16 shows the original and and playfully manipulated versions of me in the Russian River enjoying its perfect temperature. (Manipulation was courtesy of my buddy and talented DJ George Ferren!) Pic #17 was perfect at showing how "chance encounters" could happen at any time along those river banks!

 

Will Seagers with Tommy and Roger at the Russian River
Double take! My Tommy and I and my dear friend Roger (both May 22nd boys!) here frolicking or about to at the River!
 
Will Seagers, Russian River, 1976
Fast forwarding to 1976 and another “beach”… the infamous Russian River!
 
Russian River social life
“Social Life” was good along the Russian River banks… Random meeting abounded!
 

After losing my partner Tommy in 1989, I decided to reshape my life and move back to the east coast. Of course, this meant looking for a new beach to call home. In very short order, I discovered (another) very popular clothing optional beach at the northern tip of New Jersey's Monmouth County - Sandy Hook. Shy as I am, here we have another "here's looking at you" nudist shot - Pic #18. The calm and much warmer Atlantic was a treat for the unclad body! Socializing was easy at this beach, as the atmosphere was quite relaxed. Appearing with a beach buddy in Pic #19, the relaxed attitude is rather apparent. And for a final beach picture, me enjoying a drink at the Waikiki Sheraton in Pic #20.

 

Will Seagers at a nude beach
Yep! Another nude beach. This time it's NJ's Sandy Hook! After my return to the East Coast in the 90s this became my default summer home.
 
Will Seagers and friend at Sandy Hook beach
More fun and socializing on the Sandy Hook Beach. Names are withheld to protect the innocent!
 
Will having a drink at a Hawaii beach
Having a drink at the Waikiki Sheraton.
 

I truly miss the beautiful beaches, whether they be oceans or rivers. Those days are all in the past. My past few years have been filled with skin cancer related issues. My final photo, #21, is just last August - recovering from Mohs procedure #10. All of those glorious sunny beach days came with a price. I wish to share with all of my Bijou family a simple warning: The Sun is not your friend.

 

Will healing after a recent Mohs procedure
One last recent picture illustrating what happens after a life of chasing the Sun. My skin cancer surgeon and I are on a first name basis!
 

Thank you to Will Seagers for use of his photos.

 

Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted careers and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model, film performer, and DJ, just to name a few. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.

George Ferren, a close friend of Will's frequently mentioned in his blogs, was a major figure in the San Francisco music scene in the '70s/'80s. His current music is available for your pleasure on Soundcloud: BY GEORGE

 

Will Seagers, present day image

 


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s
An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills
Merry Christmas (and Getting Re-Organized)
Now and Then
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Badlands
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: Moby Dick Bar
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: "Just Another Stroll Down the Castro!"
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Hamburger Mary's
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Long Live the Stud!
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Club Life..."Hit me with your Rhythm Stick!”
A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!
Back to Basics: "Staying Vanilla in a Flavorful Culture!"
A Little Secret
"I love a Parade!" Recollections of the 1977 S.F. Gay Pride Parade

 

 

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Hi, Will! Wishing you speedy healing. "What's an SPF?" when Hawaiian Tropics Deep Tanning Oil doubles as lube? All the best, ... Read More
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"I love a Parade!" Recollections of the 1977 S.F. Gay Pride Parade

By Will Seagers

 

Hi folks! Will here. Today's blog will be a bit of a departure from the last few in that it will be primarily a "Photo Essay" courtesy of my trusty Pentax K-1000. Although considered a beginner's 35mm SLR, it was good quality and easy to use! From the mid-70s 'till the mid-80s, when it was replaced with a Nikon SLR. Yes! I used some of that "pin money" from my porn adventures to buy lots of nice toys! LOL.

Although this was not the first S.F. Pride parade, it was my first. I had only been in town since September of 1976. And, during the weeks leading up to this event, I became increasingly excited to see it. My partner Tommy as well as many of our friends went on and on about how festive it was going to be and all of the beautiful people that were going to attend. So, I immediately got out my Pentax and made sure it was in perfect working order.

Sign reading Human rights are absolute
Pride parade and all of its political beginnings.

Ornate yellow dress

The glee and beauty exposed at the parade!
 

Footwear close-up
Fashionable footwear on the floats.

Roger and Tommy watching parade
Roger Magan (left) and Tommy (right) both high as a kite! Roger was instrumental in my move to SF. And, Tommy was there when I arrived!

Tom Junnell on Oil Can Harry's float
A dear buddy and laser mouth cut up – DJ Tom Junnell from Oil Can Harry's disco.

Crysler wearing a Stud shirt
Tommy's bestie Crysler wearing an original Stud t-shirt.

Anita Bryant protest sign equated with hate symbols
The very political theme of this year's parade equating Anita Bryant and Hitler.

Orange-shaped sign protesting Anita Bryant
The “Orange Lady” Anita Bryant was getting more pie in her face!

June in San Francisco is one of the most stellar months, weather-wise. The sky could not be any bluer nor the Sun any brighter. With the temps climbing into the mid-70s, it was shirts-off weather for sure. And, that is exactly what happened - with both men and women! Although it took a decade or two for S.F. to reach the Sodom and Gomorrah heights of the Folsom Street Fairs, this parade for its time was pretty "edgy!"

Tommy and I had a leg up on a lot of the parade revelers in that we lived a mere two blocks from Market Street - the parade route. We decided to walk a few blocks downtown where the crowds were really piling up. I climbed atop a (Walk/Don't Walk) traffic signal for my photo perch. I guess I was up about 8' – 10'... a perfect vista. Although I got a lot of choice photos, I did miss out on taking pics of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone who both attended. As this was the era of Gay Empowerment both fiscally and politically, it was great to have our heroes with us!

One star that did not escape my lens was Sylvester. At this time he was quite a rising musical talent. Originally, he performed in neighborhood venues. But, that soon morphed into national and international attention! As I mentioned in a former blog about The Castro, Syl and I became friends. He came into the bar where I spun records (The Badlands) to say hello and drop off new releases (that I was delighted to play - on the spot!).

Sylvester at the 1977 parade
Sylvester at the 1977 SF pride parade.

Shot down Market St. with Women's Contingent in background
A long shot of Market St. (the parade route) and the many revelers!

Dykes on Bikes
The ever popular women's contiengent from Oakland, “Dykes on Bikes!”

Carmen Miranda drag
Carmen Miranda – move over!

Musicians performing on float
On this sea of floats talent abounded.

Drag royalty
San Francisco's royalty of the day in all of their splendor.

Sign reading The Right to be Human
Voicing our rights!

Sign readign Ministers for human rights
Again!

So many wonderful names and faces were in this crowd! Many became life-long friends. The experience was dazzling and it became an annual affair for me. It has been great to recreate this time capsule. I hope you enjoy! Will.

Thank you to Will Seagers for use of his photos.

 

Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted careers and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model, film performer, and DJ, just to name a few. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.

George Ferren, a close friend of Will's frequently mentioned in his blogs, was a major figure in the San Francisco music scene in the '70s/'80s. His current music is available for your pleasure on Soundcloud: BY GEORGE

 

Will Seagers, present day image

 


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s
An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills
Merry Christmas (and Getting Re-Organized)
Now and Then
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Badlands
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: Moby Dick Bar
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: "Just Another Stroll Down the Castro!"
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Hamburger Mary's
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Long Live the Stud!
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Club Life..."Hit me with your Rhythm Stick!”
A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!
Back to Basics: "Staying Vanilla in a Flavorful Culture!"
A Little Secret

 

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David's Sexual Underground - 5/22/23

 

bijouworld.com - LGBTQ History - BijouBlog

David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

 

Greetings All,

 

It has been a rough week for me, which has put us behind schedule this week. I have been assisting a dear friend and mighty force in our greater LGBTQ+ community these past few months. When I came to Chicago in 1976, one of the first friends I made was Marge Summit, then owner of His N Hers, a popular community bar located under the L tracks on Addison.

 

Marge Summit in westernwear at His N Hers

 

Marge created a wonderful space that brought many facets of our community together to celebrate. Marge’s staff served us great drinks, prepared fabulous food including the best burger I ever enjoyed in Chicago. And Marge made a space for lots of local talent to perform, grow and succeed.

She became a dear friend and mentor to me in the service industry. Those of you who joined me for Chicago’s Original Country Dance after closing Carol’s Speakeasy should remember Marge helping us serve drinks at various spots along the way Pusch Studios, Paris Dance, Whiskey River, Bedrock to name a few.

 

Marge at the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame

 

As an icon of our community, Marge was there when AIDS first struck Chicago. Her support for many of the early organizations that came to be in response to this emergency was fantastic. Howard Brown, Chicago House, Open Hand and numerous others were causes championed at His N Hers in the 80s with the support of the talented artist that performed at the bar.

Marge did more than just host benefits; she took action when needed. One of my favorite things she did was to push peoples’ comfort zones.

 

Frank Kellas and Marge Summit in newspaper photo, cited as being named as Organizers of the Year from Gay Chicago for their commitment to the Gay Dollar Campaign

 

To stress the economic force of our community, Marge and her leather buddy Frank Kellas launched the Gay Dollar campaign. She bought rubber stamps that read Gay Dollar and stamped thousands of one dollar bills. In the 80s, that got the attention of the Feds. They visited her and threatened her if she persisted. She did persist and straight folks were forced to be embarrassed by handing over “gay money” when shopping, dining, etc.

You may not remember there was a small grocery store at the corner of Belmont & Broadway. The owners were unhappy as the neighborhood became “New Town” with gays moving into the area. Bars, stores catering to gays sprang up. With the fear of AIDS, the owners were afraid of contact with us. Marge would get friends to join her to each grab a grocery cart and fill it with all kinds of items, the smaller the better. Filling the carts, they would leave them at the checkout announcing they were gay. The fearful owners and staff would be forced to wipe off all the handled merchandise, fearing contamination of AIDS. Sound familiar?

Marge met the love of her life, Janan, in her later years and I was honored to host their wedding at my Country Dance at The Call. Sadly, we had to celebrate Janan’s passing there too. The past few months were hard for Marge, failing health and loneliness made it a vicious circle. I was fortunate to spend time with her, sharing memories, meals, helping her cope as she became weaker.

 

Marge and Janan

 

I got to sit with her one last time on Tuesday in her finally hours as she passed from this world knowing she would be reunited with her wife, Janan.

Marge was not part of our leather community, but she understood our side of the family. She was a great friend of Chuck Rodocker, Chuck Renslow and Jim Flint, all leather bar owners in the 70s and 80s. She stood with us as AIDs decimated the clubs and took the lives of so many leathermen.

This loss is not felt just by me but many others of our leather community of that era.

Thanks for allowing me to share this passing with you.

 

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Mad Scenes

By Madam Bubby

 

Usually a “mad scene” specifically refers to a particular scene from an opera written by bel canto composers of the early 19th century, such as Donizetti and Bellini. A soprano, usually suffering from a romantic love crisis, goes insane, and expresses her insanity, paradoxically, in difficult, complicated coloratura passages that require great vocal control.

The most famous occurs in the opera Lucia di Lammermoor. Lucia, in love with the family enemy Edgardo, is forced to marry someone her brother chooses, Arturo. Lucia kills Arturo on her wedding night. I grew up hearing the gay icon Maria Callas singing this scene on record, and I was mesmerized that she was able to invest the scene with such drama and a dark, complex timbre. Here was no Snow White singing tra la la to the birds. But, interestingly enough, the opera does not end with the mad scene. Lucia dies offstage, and her lover, Edgardo, kills himself. He actually gets a kind of tenor mad scene. But it’s generally the ladies who go mad, which reflects quite blatantly the misogynistic Victorian view that women, the "weaker sex," were more prone to mental disturbance: potential hysterics.

 

Callas as Lucia

Callas as Lucia

 

The mad scene by the middle of the last century started moving to the end of movies, crystallizing to some extent in the grand dame guignol movies of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The end of Sunset Boulevard, the famous “I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille,” scene of Norma Desmond, deconstructs the mad scenes of operas, because she thinks she is playing the necrophiliac Salome. One even hears a bit of music from the Strauss opera as she descends the staircase (that prop usually occurs in Lucia mad scenes). In fact, by the time Strauss wrote his opera Salome, one could even say the female protagonists of many operas written by that time were mad for the entire opera (or most of the time).

 

Noma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard

Norma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard

 

Thus, Baby Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? dancing on the beach with ice cream cones and others of her ilk come out of a rich tradition. The director Robert Aldrich really seemed to build his grande dame guignol films toward a final mad scene for the female protagonist, though in his underrated Autumn Leaves shows a male, played by Cliff Robertson, going mad, and he gets several scenes, but the most terrifying one occurs at about midpoint.

But it is also a scene of horrifying domestic violence (he throws a typewriter at his wife, played by Joan Crawford, after slapping her around). Like Edgardo in Lucia, he accuses her of treachery, but she is innocent. In reality, his father slept with his now former wife (she a willing accomplice), and discovering them together precipitated his descent into what, based on the movie, is paranoid schizophrenia.

 

Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson in Autumn Leaves

Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson in Autumn Leaves

 

Aldrich created another mad scene in The Killing of Sister George, a groundbreaking LGBTQ movie on so many levels, not only for its filming a scene in an actual lesbian bar, but, for the fact that the protagonist, June Buckridge played by Beryl Reid (known as George because of the character she plays in a soap opera, Sister George, a jovial country nurse in an English village) is out and proud as a lesbian. Many critics today tend to place this move in the “self-hating” LGBTQ subgrenre. Yes, George is certainly not the most stable person. She yells a lot, drinks a lot, and certainly, which one could argue isn’t really a character flaw in some of the situations she encounters, shows no compunction about telling some persons off in not the most dainty language.

Her relationship with Alice does not strike one as being the healthiest by today’s standards. I remember watching the scene where George, always jealous, punishes Alice for a supposed flirting (with a man) by making her kneel before her and eat her cigar. For the mid 1960s, this scene was risqué, and I perceived that perhaps there was some element of BDSM play involved, but it also seems to be moving into the realm of emotional abuse. And it’s not Alice as the victim of the “bull dyke” George. Alice is blatantly egging her on, and by pretending to enjoy eating the cigar; yes, she does take back control of the dynamic, knowing she is hurting George by, as George both yells and cries, “ruining” it.

Thus, one can see the characters aren’t camp caricatures. The character George plays gets killed off in the series (hence the title), and the fate of her career and relationship gets wound up in the machinations of the cliched reptilian predatory lesbian, played by Coral Browne.

Spoiler alert: she loses her job and her lover; the Coral Browne character in a scene of underhanded viciousness at George’s farewell party at the television studio suggests she get a job playing the voice of a cow in an animated puppets series for children. A gut-wrenching scene occurs when Alice leaves her. Reid masterfully plays it as both horribly hurt and horribly angry together, the emotion much like that of another spurned operatic character, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana (from the time of whole “mad operas”). Shortly thereafter, George enters the empty studio, smashes the camera equipment, and beings mooing like a cow. She is wordless. No romantic words, no ecstatic high notes like Lucia sings, no cameras for a Norma Desmond close-up.

 

Beryl Reid as George in The Killing of Sister George

Beryl Reid as George in The Killing of Sister George

 

But, is she really mad? Does she really enter another reality like Lucia and Norma Desmond and Baby Jane? She’s not fantasizing about a marriage that never took place, and she’s not retreating into memories of a forever lost stardom. It seems she’s justifiably enraged, but also, given her indomitable character, understanding that she will do that job. She knows she has lost. She knows it’s degrading.

And like many LGBTQ persons, she knows who she is, and because she knows, she can choose, or at least to try and choose, what happens in her life. What’s sad is that she feels like she can only choose her losses. I just wonder if she’s really at the same level of victimization and its sister, in those cases, madness as the Romantic heroines of opera or the characters like Baby Jane who are both torturer and victim in grande dame guignol cinema.

Similarly, the complex dynamic where the madness, or appearance of madness, exists perhaps to crystallize at the highest level of tension the torturer/victim binary appears in a classic gay porn movie, Drive, directed by Jack Deveau (which Bijou carries on DVD and Streaming). The mad lead character/anti-hero Arachne plots to kidnap a scientist and eliminate everyone’s sex drive.

 

Christopher Rage as Arachne in Drive

Christopher Rage as Arachne in Hand in Hand Films' Drive (1974)

 

Arachne (played by legendary director Christopher Rage, here billed as Mary Jim Sstunning, in a script written by Rage) certainly camps it up as she attempts to set her diabolical plot in motion. But the movie unveils at the end how the one who desires to castrate is actually ferociously repressing her own sexuality. She is last seen in a dungeon with the men she had imprisoned. Secret agent Clark liberates the prisoners, and Arachne is left alone. But this whole mad porn opera contains a moment of somber lucidity. Arachne holds a glass bottle with a severed penis. She knows she is forever trapped in a cycle of endless desire like a spider in a web, consuming its mates but never satiated:

I hunted at night until it wasn’t enough to hunt only at night, and then I hunted during the day too. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. My thoughts were only of hard bodies, rigid with the desire for me — beautiful men swollen with the need for me. They were all around me and I chose the ones who looked most eager.

“Until I saw a man who was so perfect, with a hunger in his eyes that reflected my own hunger — and I knew he was the one. I knew we could feed from each other, claw at each other with a need we didn’t care to understand.

“Drugged with desire for each other’s hot naked skin, tense muscles pushing — and then filling me with his need, white and hot. Crushing me with his strong arms, pressing down on me and into me, until I closed my eyes with the ecstasy and perfection of him, and I screamed for him — and I screamed for me. 

“And I opened my eyes and I was alone.

“And I vowed then that I would bring an end to it all. Man would have to search no more: Arachne would be the answer.”


She knows. She knows who she is, ultimately more frightening than the mad scene at the end, which usually ends in the liberation of death.

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My 1992 “Porn Set” Diary

By Josh Eliot
 

In the December 1992 issue of Manshots magazine, I was asked to write an “on-set” diary chronicling the making of a road movie I was shooting from March 3rd - 22nd, 1992. I thought it might be fun to present that 31 year old article here to show “how things worked.” I was 29 years old at the time. It’s worth mentioning that featured in the same issue of that magazine was an interview with Richard Locke, conducted by Jerry Douglas. Also included was their “Fade-Out” column which featured a tribute to Al Parker, who passed away August 17th of that year.

 

December 1992 Manshots cover and articles on Richard Locke and Al Parker

Cover of the December 1992 issue of Manshots and articles on Richard Locke and Al Parker

 

In order to keep this blog at a “readable length,” we will start in progress. We drove to our San Francisco guest house rental. My lead, Hank Sterling, had a scheduling conflict so Randy White replaced him, leaving Hank in a supporting role. I met Randy White for the first time when he arrived at the guest house that evening. Stressed from the cast changes, Jeff Burton (Catalina photographer) and I snuck out to the Castro, got bombed and stayed out until the wee hours of the morning! We shot a major scene with Randy White and Bill Marlowe over the next two days, and despite Marlowe throwing his back out, the Doan’s pills kicked in and we got some great fucking. In a “big bike race scene,” one of the two bikes malfunctioned, forcing us to shoot the guys racing each other using the same bike. Annoying. Having wrapped in San Francisco, we join the diary “in progress “ on Monday March 9th as we arrived in Guerneville, CA, home of the Russian River. Here’s the remainder of the diary:

MONDAY, MARCH 9, 1992
Well, here we sit, four to a cabin in the Russian River. I think we’ll all kill each other by Friday. The resort Fifes is for sale, so it is empty except for us. Unfortunately, I told Chi Chi LaRue that the Russian River was just like Palm Springs, and it is, in the summer, but it’s March and this place is (how can I put it?) a ghost town! Chi Chi is driving up tomorrow with Wes Daniels, Adam Archer and Tom Farrell. I hope he didn’t pack too much drag. I guess he could always do a private show, just for us, on one of the picnic tables.

TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 1992
The Bill Marlowe/Dean Johnson scene is completed. It’s kind of a bitch shooting sex in a four man tent. Chi Chi arrived around 8pm and evidently the drive up was just hellish, because the Chi monster is breathing fire. He and Tom Farrell may just kill each other. We calmed Chi Chi down by having him do a face mask, along with me and the crew. There we sat, all of us with green mud on our faces, watching the NC-17 version of Ken Russell’s Whore. Around 10:30pm we walked into town to the Rainbow Cattle Company for cocktails - emphasis on cock. It was your typical run of the mill evening: Chi Chi broke several glasses, started quoting Barbra Streisand, and then broke out into song. The locals at the bar thought that we were from another planet - but aren’t we? My ex-boyfriend, a respected San Francisco call boy, is working on the crew as my video tech. We are also sharing a bed, and he told me I was talking in my sleep last night He told me I said: “All right, kissing looks good, now I want a wide shot.” Oh well, no sleep for the wicked.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 1992
Tom Farrell’s scene with Adam Archer (the redneck and the trespassing biker) couldn’t have gone better - there was some major chemistry between those guys. The fucking on the bunkbeds will certainly be one of the highlights of the film. Tonight, as we were getting ready to go out, Tom Farrell graciously locked the other models out of their cabin and we had to wait about an hour for the owner to find another pass key. He ended up going in through a window. I was over it, big time. We finally made it to Molly Brown's, another gay bar. Chi Chi and I played darts, that’s what you do in these hick bars, while the others were dispersed throughout the place. Adam Archer played a lot of pool and Tom Farrell was hanging out with a couple of lesbians. We caught him kissing one and Chi Chi almost threw a dart at them. Then the group photos started, and it was time for us to leave. A few of us ended up at the Rainbow Cattle Company. I started talking to this juicy guy at the bar. He was one of the Cattle Company’s off duty bartenders. We were talking and, out of the blue, he mentioned that the town folk were saying that there was a rumor that Catalina Video was in town shooting a movie. (I guess we do stick out like a sore thumb.) Of course, I was slightly sloppy at this point and confessed everything to him. Well, who knew that it would work in my favor for a change! I thought that by telling him, he would say we could shoot some footage in the bar for the movie. But it turned out the only shots he wanted to shoot were on my face. I had no problem with that! We ditched the others and went back to the “Bunkhouse” at Fifes, where we shot the Farrell-Archer scene, because I still had the keys to it. Finally, after a week’s wait, I got laid. Big deal, right? Well, it was a very, very big deal, but I don’t kiss and tell (all the time).

THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 1992
The threeway oral scene was to be shot today with Wes Daniels, Alvin “The Whopper” Eros and Jean Paul Cocteau. Cocteau, obviously from Paris, France, was the biggest bug up my ass, but it wasn’t his fault. He was really nice and all, but the language barrier nearly sent me over the edge, as I’m sure the scene will reflect! At least it’s the middle scene in a five scene movie. Tonight we are all going to the Rusty Nail to celebrate wrapping in the Russian River.

SATURDAY, March 14, 1992
It’s 9:00am. The crew and I are at the Beck’s Motor Lodge in the San Francisco Castro district. We arrived yesterday morning and relaxed until it was time to meet Chi Chi and the models at the End Up for drinks. Chi Chi was in full drag, looking fabulous, when all of a sudden another drag queen came in looking exactly like Chi Chi’s mother! Same wig, same type of dress, but with a grey streak in her hair. We joked about how fun it would be to see the two of them in a cat fight, but they became best girlfriends. Cocteau from France never came back to the motel tonight. We never thought he would get laid with that bandana wrapped around his neck like he had it.

SATURDAY, MARCH 21, 1992
Today in Los Angeles we shot the first half of the Randy White/Hank Sterling scene, inside the limousine. What a royal pain in the ass! It’s over now so I won’t bitch. I’ve got some great shots of White jacking off while we drove around town - pretty cool stuff!

SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 1992
The anal half of the White/Sterling scene was shot today. Unfortunately Sterling started to bleed, so I immediately stopped the scene, as I always do in that event. I told him to stick two cotton balls up his ass and we’ll shoot another day, which we did.

FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 1992
I just finished editing the movie today. I have been working on it diligently since I got back to LA. I still can’t think of a title - can you believe it? I must say, It’s definitely, in my opinion, the best work I’ve done in quite a while. For that. I thank my incredible cast of actors and my irreplaceable, hardworking crew.

TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 1992
We named it! Easy Riders. Gotta go. I’m busy working on the script for Lunch Hour 2.

You can tell towards the end of the diary I was over writing it! I just thought it would be cool to give you a little glimpse of what things were like back then. There was a really hot and heavy thing that happened while in the Russian River that, at the time (1992), there was no way in hell I would mention for the Manshots publication. But you can read about it here in my previous blog, (Un)Easy Riders.

 

Bio of Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002. 

 

You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Castro Theatre
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Midnight Sun
RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship
VOYAGER of the Damned
I'M NOT A LESBIAN DIRECTOR
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: THE FOLSOM STREET FAIR
Diving into SoMa/Folsom: A TALE OF TWO STUDS
BALL BROTH

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