David's Sexual Underground - 5/22/23

 

AIDS crisis - 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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BALL BROTH

By Josh Eliot

**WARNING: Contents May Upset Your Stomach **

 

It was my love of movies and movie-making that brought me out to San Francisco at age 17 to try to make a go of it. For some reason, my brain retains movie trivia like nobody's business. Things I shouldn’t remember, but just do. Having said that, there are a few things I would like to forget about my time working for Catalina Video from 1987-2009. Not anything related to my co-workers, our ethics, or decisions we made, but things that grossed me out. I often felt like an impostor when I was working in the industry, because my focus was easily shifted if something I was watching made me a little squeamish. For example: when one of our directors was shooting a hot sweaty scene, I would focus on the sweat. Sweat in general grosses me out. I don’t want to see it, I don’t want it dripped on me during a moment of passion, all I want to do is wipe it away. I don’t know if I’m alone in this thought process, but it is one of the many turn-offs I witnessed on the set over the years. The sex we were shooting could be super-hot, but as soon as I saw something that triggered my squeamish side, it was my focal point, it would throw me off my game.

When I started with Catalina Video in 1987, they hadn’t yet embraced the condom. However, director John Travis and producer Scott Masters where trying their best to be responsible by using a spermicidal ointment when we shot fucking. Conceptrol with Nonoxynol-9 came in a tube, much like a tampon, and was a vaginal contraceptive to prevent pregnancy. In our studio, the shower had a douche attachment for the models to use prior to shooting the anal portion of the scenes. Once clean as a whistle, the model would come onto the set and the director or make-up man would insert the tube of Non Oxy 9 into their butt and push the gel up into them. This was short lived, and condoms came a few movies later. While using the Non-Oxy 9, it wouldn’t just magically stay inside - at any given moment it would fly out, most often when I was shooting the underneath shot. It would fly out and land on my camera lens, my arm, my ankle (if I was sitting instead of kneeling) or the top of my head. I made damned sure to keep my head down and mouth shut. An underneath cum shot with a load splattering, not a problem, but this stuff? UGHHHH.

 

The Young Cadets (L); Conceptrol (R)

The Young Cadets (L); Conceptrol (R)

 

In one of Scott Master’s movies, The Young Cadets, Mike Ryan‘s co-star could not keep a boner to save his life. Scott Masters made some calls and got Chris Burns to come in to do the fucking. Chris Burns (Below the Belt, Dangerous, Men of the Midway) had worked for Catalina Video in These Bases Are Loaded, Skin Deep and NightCrawler, but didn’t have the current “pretty faced jock” look that Catalina was now casting. He did, however, agree to come in as a “stunt dick.” It was very lucky for me that Dan Allman was doing the camera work for the insertion shots, because it went on forever and poor Mike Ryan was screaming his lungs out because Chris’s fat dick was ripping him a new one. Mike was a gay for pay model and really didn’t have a lot of anal experience, and probably could have used a lesson on how to properly douche. Chris was merciless, but the worst thing was that the damned Non Oxy 9 kept flying out and landing on the fill light. 400 watts of burning Non Oxy 9/butt juice that was literally smoking and filling up the studio, and it did not smell like Fabreze! Poor Dan got a cloud of smoke right in his face.

 

Chris Burns (L); Men of the Midway poster (R)

Chris Burns (L); Men of the Midway poster (R)

 

If you are still with me, it’s time to move onto another repulsive (in my book) liquid: spit. For some unknown reason, Chi Chi LaRue came up with this idea that spitting was hot. Now, I was fine over the years with a little appropriate spitting, like in someone’s ass crack, perfectly fine. But for a good year, all of Chi Chi’s movies - straight, gay and bi - had this non-stop spitting all over the place. Chi was also directing projects for Catalina during that period and I happened to be filling in on camera when the spitting started. Luckily, I was able to use my producer card and stopped that shit tout suite. Sorry “girl,” we don’t do that in Catalina productions, think of something else. Chi Chi obliged without an argument because he knew how much that churned my stomach. He did, however, like to keep the sweat on the boys instead of calling for make-up to wipe them down (like I always did), but I just grinned and bore it.

We always save the best for last, don’t we? I was shooting the movie Furry Men Do and there was a Latino actor named Gabriel Rocas that we used from time to time who had the biggest balls I’d ever seen. Like many models, he had his own specific routine to get himself hard prior to running onto the set and shooting a few moments of video with his erect penis. I learned about it on his first pair of movies for us, BEAR Skin & Latin Men Do, in 1999.

 

Gabriel Rocas & Mike Cesar in Latin Men Do

Gabriel Rocas (and his huge balls) & Mike Cesar in Latin Men Do

 

He would disappear into the adjoining room and soak his giant nuts in a bowl (that he brought with him) of warm water while he stroked his dick to get hard. Ok, no big deal, sounds pleasant enough. It worked, the scenes were completed and we all went home happy. Then on the set of Furry Men Do in 2000, Gabriel returned, bowl in hand, to shoot another scene. This time, one of my crew members was assisting him in the adjoining room. Always up for a good chuckle, Brad Austin and I snuck a peek into the room to see the crew member carefully blowing Gabriel, being extra cautious not to spill the water out of the bowl that his nuts were soaking in. I wish I had a photo. We finished the scene quickly, the models went to shower and we started to pack up. The crew member came walking into the room with the bowl of water and we turned our heads to look at him, when we heard him say, “Ahhh… Ball broth!” Without missing a beat, he put the bowl of water, pubic hairs and all, up to his mouth and drank the entire thing. Brad and I nearly lost our lunch. That was the very last time I ever booked Gabriel; nothing against him, but I just couldn’t ever witness another serving of Ball Broth!

 

Balls in broth

 

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

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The BOOM BOOM Room

By Josh Eliot

 

In Laguna Beach, California The Coast Inn, built in 1927, was one of the earliest hotels in the area. The Inn featured hotel rooms, a café and bar. By 1941, the secluded beach town had rapidly grown into a resort destination. During World War II and in the post-World War II period, the property’s clientele changed from primarily vacation travelers to members of the military. In 1956, a fire destroyed much of the front portion of the building, which new owners, the Smith brothers, rebuilt and added a nightclub. In 1977, the cocktail lounge and dining room of the Coast Inn were operating as The Boom Boom Room, a nightclub and disco, and were sold to Sidney Bryan in 1978. The Coast Inn hotel, restaurant and bar now catered predominately to the gay community. As the property grew in popularity over the next few decades, it gained a reputation as being the area’s premier gay nightclub, bringing a very large gay tourist and resident population to the seaside community.

 

The Coast Inn, built in 1927

The Coast Inn, built in 1927

 

In the 1980s, Michael Martenay, a Laguna Beach resident, was appalled to learn that the ashes of two former patrons who had died from AIDS had been scattered in the green space behind the Boom Boom Room. The green area had fallen in disarray and was filled with trash and liquor bottles. Michael spent two days hauling out 39 trash bags of garbage from the site, determined to bring the space back to life. Through community donations of flowers, plants, seeds and other materials Martenay built and perfected “The Garden of Peace and Love,” a memorial garden for mourners who lost friends to AIDS. It is said that over 50 souls' ashes have been scattered there. The city of Laguna Beach, after a recommendation from Police Chief James Spreine, installed a water line near the garden to ensure the garden’s life for years to come.

 

The Garden of Peace and Love

The Garden of Peace and Love

 

I first discovered the Boom Boom Room when I went location scouting with Scott Masters for my upcoming movie, Pacific Coast Highway 2. We found a beach house with ocean front access and booked it. I was anxious about this movie assignment because it was big shoes to fill making a sequel to a William Higgins classic. I fully admit that I was too green to pull it off properly at that stage in my career. The cast and crew did have a great time making it though. I had a brand new exclusive model named Hank Sterling who was very hunky and masculine. Scott Masters took me to the Boom Boom Room for drinks when we were in town months earlier and I of course took the cast and crew there after shooting our dailies. I was always very frugal with budgets and only spent where I needed to, so that left lots of miscellaneous money left over to treat the guys to nights on the town!

 

Pacific Coast Highway 2

Pacific Coast Highway 2

 

Over the years, friends and I made Laguna Beach a regular destination when getting out of town. When I was assigned a movie called Cat Men Do, an original idea our general manager came up with, I didn’t hesitate to make it a “Roadie Movie.” The concept of the movie was pretty much showing the day to day functions of Catalina Video: model searches, promotional ideas, and even the fictional character “Rusty James,” whose signature was on every piece of correspondence to our mail order customers. I shot a faceless Rusty, only identifiable by his name embroidered on his shirt, in the desert of Palm Springs where he gave away VHS tapes to the large number of guys who would blow him through a glory hole in a secluded abandoned shack. I had to somehow make this shameless promotion of the company movie interesting. While we were shooting the Laguna Beach “model search” scenes for the movie, we also scheduled an actual model search contest at the Boom Boom Room. This time we also occupied rooms at the Coast Inn for our cast and crew. The local and tourist crowd could not have been more receptive and fun. Model wannabes got up on stage, showed their asses off and won prizes. Michael Cody and Steve Rambo were the MCs and of course we all drank until closing! After closing, patrons would go down the steps, past the Garden of Peace and Love and continue partying (and more) on the beach under the cliffs. That was our last shoot day so I didn’t have to chase after the models to make sure they weren’t sucking any dick. We all left in love with the Coast Inn and Boom Boom Room experience, eagerly excited about our return some day.

 

Cat Men Do model search party at the Boom Boom Room

Cat Men Do model search party at the Boom Boom Room

 

The Boom Boom Room in full swing

The Boom Boom Room in full swing

 

In September of 2007, the Coast Inn, featuring the Boom Boom Room, shuttered its doors. Because of the Coast Inn’s significance, the new owners' plans to redevelop were held in limbo for over a decade. In 2018, the space still had not been touched by the new owners and the city of Laguna Beach approved the Boom Boom Room to reopen for two days during the Gay Pride Festival, and it was packed! In August 2021, the Coastal Commission cleared the way for the Coast Inn remodel. The Boom Boom Room re-opening is not part of their plans.

 


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

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Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s

By Will Seagers

 

As I have pointed out in prior blogs, gay life was really unbelievable in the 1970s. This was particularly so in the cities of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and many others.

Bath houses and bars with their notorious "back rooms" were all the rage across the country. A sexual society had developed over that decade. I know for myself as a steward for a major airline, any "port of call" would have a Club Baths there and that would be pretty much a guaranteed good time. That chain was spread out all across the country... much to my pleasure. I will never forget an escapade I had in Miami. Towel-clad as usual, I was wandering the mostly outdoor and tropical grounds when I heard a voice softly call out my name. I turned around to find a childhood bestie that I had not seen in decades. He and his mother had moved from N.J. where we met and were pre-teen play pals. I had always had my suspicions about this "buddy" even though nothing had ever happened back then or that night.

 

Men in a bath house from Drive (1974)

Men in a bath house from Drive (1974)

 

Fast forward to the later part of the 70s when I moved to San Francisco. Besides the legendary baths like The Barracks, The Brothel and many many more, the Club Baths of S.F. was just two blocks from my South of Market apartment! My partner and I had a very open sexual relationship. We both loved to go "down the block" as we called it! For most of our years together we both had night time jobs. Most of the people that worked the bars and clubs that closed at 2AM would head down to 8th and Howard (the location for Club Baths S.F.) to "unwind" after work. There was sort of a social scene that had developed over the years. The big event, however, was on Tuesday nights when they had very discounted rates. There were literally lines around the block to get in. Once you got in, you quickly realized it was worth the wait! It was like being on a porn set. Being familiar with that... it sure felt like home to me! Lol.

Similarly, NYC had its bath house smorgasbord, too! Two of my favorite were the St. Mark's and the Continental Baths. The St. Mark's was one of the older facilities in town and well attended in the hours after the bars and clubs around town had shut for the night.

 

St. Mark's Baths interior St. Mark's Baths interior

Continental interior sign and men dancing from Jack (1973)

Continental interior sign and men dancing from Jack (1973)

 

For me, I would sometimes make a whole night of it there and skip the clubs and bars! Oink!

 

Cartoon pig

 

All of this came to an abrupt end. A scourge had hit the gay communities around the country. It was both frightening and sad to be losing friends and family to a disease that no one understood at the time. Almost immediately, openly sexual venues were forced to close. It sent a shockwave through the community. Being undaunted, a lot of the community went to "monitored" sex clubs. While visiting a friend in NYC, we went to one of these venues. I was surprised at how packed it was... given that people remained mostly clothed. There were actual monitors that wandered through the crowd admonishing and extracting individuals that went beyond the basic (hand-job) tolerated behaviors. "Lips above the Hips" was the chant that could be heard from these monitors as they walked the floor. For some people this might have worked. But, for me it was like the fast-food version of sex! It left me hungry.

It was at this time I noticed that porn was really taking off again. The industry literally exploded. After all, what could be safer than being a voyeur in the comfort of your own home? And, that was true again when COVID reared its ugly head just recently. Not only condoms but masks were featured in porn - ostensibly to set a good example. The almighty sexual drive of my fellow man was not to be daunted!

So, at nearly 72, I have seen the "Lavender Wave" rise from seemingly nowhere during the years of the sexual revolution. I have participated in it myself with great memories of the freedom I felt. The great cosmic pendulum swung back. I am now seeing the adjustments. But, Men being Men - there will always be a feast ahead.

 

 

Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted career and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model and film performer. 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.

 

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

 

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David's Chicago Sexual Underground 09/21/22 & P(r)ick of the Week

AIDS crisis - BijouBlog
David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

Greetings P(r)icksters!

Been busy hosting a vaccine party every week at the bar on top of all our other parties. I keep getting thanked by guys passing through the vax line and felt I just had to explain why. So here's what I sent out to my Touché posting this week. I may have covered some this in a previous blog, but it is all part of my "
why."

We are continuing our drive to get folks vaccinated against monkeypox. We want all of you to be able to socialize, meet up and find a fuck buddy, enjoy some hot passionate sex and not end up with a case of this virus. Trust me, I have heard from many who contracted the virus, and the symptoms were PAINFUL.

You like a dick down your throat, up your butt, and guess what? That's where this virus ends up. Sure, they have presented photos on the news about sores on guys' hands, chests, feet or faces. Well, what they haven't shown you are the guys with pox sores inside their dicks, up their asses or down their throats. If we hadn't started pushing guys in our community to get vaxxed, a lot more of you could have experienced this. So, we urge you to keep it in your pants and changed up our video programming and party events at the bar to help you keep yourself in check.

AIDS came to town unannounced and spread quickly and decimated our leather community. We didn't know it was here, what caused it and had no vaccine to stop it.

Today, we know monkeypox is here, how it can spread, and we have a weapon to stop it: a 2-dose vaccine shot. I wish we had this when AIDS hit; I would have a lot more friends still with me. We can stop this now from becoming an ongoing threat, but you all have to get vaxxed to make that happen.

Here's a link to the Chicago Department of Public Health's dashboard for monkeypox. It is updated on Mondays and shows the number of cases falling dramatically. It also shows the number of people vaccinated so far. It is the second dose that I focus on, because it is the second dose that allows your body to develop immunity after a couple of weeks.

9,375 is the number of Chicagoans that have received a second dose as of Monday. 9,000+ folks are fully vaxxed. Out of how many gay men that live in this city? Just think for a moment - how many gay men are there just in Chicago? All of a sudden, 9,375 seems like a good start but way short of what may be needed to keep us from a resurgence of cases.

Let's not forget the guys coming to Chicago because they live in states that haven't done jackshit about monkeypox. I checked IDs last week during our Vax Party and I can state that about 1/2 of those in the bar that came for a shot were from out of town. Florida, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Texas were just some of the IDs I saw.

If these guys feel it is so important to travel this far for a shot (hopefully they had a couple more at the bar), then I would hold that all of you that live here in Chicago would feel just as strongly and make the effort to cross town if need be and get vaccinated.

We had a Pox Vax Party last night, Tuesday, September 20th, and the upcoming one is next week on Wednesday, September 28th. As we have been doing, doors open at 5pm with shots beginning at 6 pm. We start with 100 doses but have been averaging 120 or more these past few weeks. The vax teams leave with doses unused. So don't let the early days of long lines and limited vax shots deter you. You need not line up for hours, just get here by 9pm and get a shot.

We will be adding Vax Party dates in October. Our partners at Project WISH and Rush are lining up teams to provide the shots, and once I have those dates confirmed, we will post them.

Now as to WHY?

We have been thanked repeatedly the past couple of months for hosting these Vax Parties. As guys pass through the line, they let me know how much they appreciate our effort to care for our community. There's a very simple reason why we are doing this.

We are LEATHER.

Time for a little history lesson, sorry if this gets long. I came to Chicago in the mid-70s and began working at Touché shortly after it opened. Some of my early leather mentors were already in their 60s. Which meant they had participated in WWII, and they shared their experiences with me.

Before the World Wars of the last century, travel abroad was the luxury of the wealthy. The average guy lived in his town, worked there and most likely died in that same town. The thought of going to Europe or anywhere else in the world was an unlikely dream of some, but most others just lived their life where they were. You could have urges for men, but you either had to ignore them or on the "down-low."

Heading to Europe and other places to fight in either war allowed these servicemen a chance to broaden their view beyond our American shores. In particular, during WWII, these men experienced a lot more than what their hometowns had to offer. Food, for one, drink another and lifestyles even more. Far from home and expectations they may had lived under (get a job, get married, have a family), many got a chance to explore their sexual feelings.

One of my favorite photo books is At Ease: Navy Men of WWII. These guys were out at sea for months at a time. It is not hard to imagine that physical contact between them would become common. Not just sexual; lots of the photos show guys relaxing, just laying side by side, or in some contact with each other. As humans, we feel the need to touch others.

Naturally this lead some to sexual relations with other men; after all, these guys were in their early to mid-twenties and just as horny as you guys are today. It was just there, unmentioned and tolerated as a phase. But they got over it once they returned home to their girls or wives (supposedly).

One other thing men fighting abroad may have learned was riding motorcycles. It was quick method of communications within the services. A lot of servicemen would probably never have learned to ride if it wasn't for their time in the service.

So, when guys came home from WWII, some had experienced gay sex or at least developed an affinity to being with guys. The late 40s and 50s were not a time of accepting homosexuality. These guys had to live in their closets.

Which is where our leather community sprang from: those guys that had learned to ride while in the service and continued to ride when they got back. They met other guys that served and shared experiences. So, they would ride together, forming clubs with guys they could relate to, who shared their experiences. And sometimes, far from others, they would engage in man-on-man sex.

When I come to Chicago, we had a few gay bikers’ clubs. Others like myself that did not ride were drawn to the camaraderie, the friendship, the "family" of these clubs. Other leather clubs formed for those that did not ride but felt the kinship of leather.

You didn't just drop in, you had to be invited in. It was not that hard. These clubs hung out in bars like the old Gold Coast, The Redoubt, Snake Pit and eventually Touché. The back bar at Touché is called The Club Room and the walls are covered with the colors of the various clubs that have called Touché home or out of town clubs that we have supported over the years.

You could meet these leathermen and get to know them. If they felt you were their kind of guy, they would invite you to join them and once they felt you earned the right, they would present you with patches of their colors to wear on your leather.

As a member of one of these clubs, the other members were your brothers, your family. You take care of your family. If they needed a roof over their head, they bunked with you. If they were sick, you cared for them. Helped them find a job if needed. A lot of times it meant caring for those of other clubs, too. Being part of this community meant you would step up and take care of each other.

This is Touché’s 45th year. My 45th year as being part of Chicago’s leather community. And neither Touché nor I can stand by and do nothing when we have this threat to our community. Leather stepped up when AIDS hit in the 80s. Unfortunately, we lost a huge part of our leather community at that time. A lot of those club colors represent a whole group of 30-40 guys that were wiped out by AIDS. None of them are still with us, but we will never forget them.

Those of us that made it through AIDS were a part of the efforts to respond to AIDS. Just feeding folks brought us Open Hand. They made meals every day and delivered them to guys at home. Many early volunteers were leathermen and they still volunteer today through Open Hand's GroceryLand Pantry.

Being too sick to work and keep a roof over your head led to Chicago House. We raised money and bought a house, again led by a leatherman Thom Dombkowski. Now Chicago house provides roofs for PWAs across the city.

Figuring out what was causing this disease that was killing our community meant Howard Brown ramping up, from STD testing and treatment to research and healthcare, led by another leatherman, Harley McMillan.

The last couple of years brought us covid and we responded, urging all to take care, get tested, vaccinated and caring for those afflicted. Now we've got monkeypox. Just as we have in the past, we are doing what we can to take care of not just our family but our entire community. Because we are leather. It's not a fashion choice, it is how we define ourselves, the identity of the bar and how I see myself.

Whether you are leather or not, get the damn vaccine. Yes, case numbers have fallen, but it is still out there. If we just ignore, it will rear its ugly head again and we will be back to square one. The shots are free. We offer them every week. If you don't want to come here, can't get here, then get vaccinated wherever you are. Demand it. We did, and that is how we are able to host our Vax Parties week after week.

I want all my P(r)icksters out there to get vaccinated against monkeypox. You wouldn't be reading this unless you are a horny bastard, too. Let's keep this from going any further. While you wait for your second dose and immunity to develop, you can safely grab my P(r)ick this week and stay horny with me.

David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com

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