The Stereo Maven of Castro Street

By Will Seagers

 

It is sort of funny... but porn got me into Eber Electronics of San Francisco, a long time legendary store for audio and video in the Castro area of SF. I started going there with the little windfalls of cash that I would make from each movie or mag to buy another piece of gear that would make up my home DJ system. So, in a way, my films propelled me into other professions - sales and DJing!

During my many visits to the store I started to notice the differences in the sales techniques in the sales staff. Some were very kind when it was only information that I needed. Others more or less gave me "the broom" when there was no sale in sight. My go-to guy became Harold. Although he was very knowledgeable, it was his wit and humor that really separated him from the rest of the pack. Originally from Brooklyn, I sensed that he was a reincarnated vaudeville comedian! His use of Yiddish to describe certain things and stereo parts would literally have me in stitches! To put it mildly, he had quite a "Shtick!" When my film career started to grow and I was routinely spending more and more with him at the store, the others who had "broomed" me were now lamenting their shortsightedness!

During one visit with Harold, I told him I was interested in working there. Well, it wasn't more than a day or two before Jim, the store manager called me in for an interview... that I aced! I had the privilege to be under Harold's wing for a brief period of time before Harold matriculated into the position of sales rep with one of our vendors at the store. Harold was a real performer. He was infamous for his Saturday afternoons at the store to start live comedy at any given opportunity.

The most infamous of these times that I could remember was when Robin Williams, who lived in the neighborhood at the time, sauntered in through the front door. Little did I know that Harold and Robin knew each other and would burst out into some pretty insane improvs. It was only seconds before Robin and Harold were hurling comic insults across the (packed) main floor. The entire store was roaring! I had to pinch myself... I thought I was at some off Broadway performance or the like. Those were the golden years of San Francisco when you never knew when all hell was going to break loose!

NOW, as to my part: I started there in 1984, right about at the peak of my screen and mag career. People would come in. I would greet them. And to see people's faces, the double takes... I wish I had them on film. Here we were one block away from the Gay crossroads of the world, Castro and 18th Streets. And there was nothing conventional about any of the businesses in this neighborhood. There were several other gay salesmen there... one who remains my friend to this day... Jim. Together, while being friendly and knowledgeable, we artfully dodged (and sometimes we didn't) gropings, exposures and always the stare-downs. We kept our cools and had a blast! Also, it was not uncommon to have a leather couple enter the store... one on a leash and the other with a riding crop!

 

Will Seagers at Eber Electronics, SF

Will Seagers at Eber Electronics, SF

 

I have always loved electronics and have had a penchant for learning technologies, nomenclatures and the like. So, to a lot of the gay community, I became a go-to person for putting together a stereo, home theater or video cameras. I love when my friends on social media still thank me for helping them! I never made a big deal out of it... it was just natural.

Speaking of what came natural... Well, I did a lot of "home installations," too. And you can read all you want into that... it was all true! Lots of mischief ensued. I knew it didn't take rocket science for a client to do a basic TV set-up themselves! Lol. Let's just call this another perk. BTW, that didn't last too long. The owner caught wind of it and brought a halt to all home visits! (Boo!)

I remained on staff until 1990. For the restless type that I was in business, I would call that a long haul! I had a great time... met lots of wonderful people... and repeated the process later in 2000 in Santa Fe, N.M. at another legendary and well known Audio-Video mecca. Things always seem to happen to me in twos! And to think that this was coexisting with DJing and porn!


 

Thank you to Will Seagers for use of his photo.

 


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

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I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together ...

Carol Burnett today

Yes, dear Carol, I was glad too, because I was able to see you in person for your annual reflection and audience/question answer event on Tuesday, June 12.
 

Carol Burnett live at the Chicago Theater

Carol Burnett at the Chicago Theater ticket stub

In fact, I was more than glad, because like the full-capacity audience at the Chicago Theater, I am a fan. If you are a person of a certain age (and many people of that age brought their now elderly parents), you grew up with this show, the last installment on that amazing 1970s Saturday night line-up that included classics like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family.

But this blog isn't just a nostalgia kick. Of course, to see clips of Carol singing with names like Ethel Merman and Mel Torme (names millennials might not recognize), or her spinning yarns in her inimitable way about going to the movies on a dime with her grandmother several times a week, fulfilled mine and the mostly older audience's euphoric absorption into their personal retro worlds.

What really got me was Carol (and she wanted people to call her Carol) is her complete humanity. No diva posturing (which she never did in her show anyway), no condescending royal “common touch” attitude. Like she did when she “bumped up the lights” before her show in its heyday, her wit and charm flamed out like the star she is, but rather than scorching, it emanated warmth and love.

She accepted the inevitable compliments graciously, but always managed to focus warmly and personally on the person she was speaking too, which ranged from a gay Catholic priest who admitted he would sing a variant of her song when he left a parish (how gay is that? my conservative priestly brother would cringe), to an odd question from someone who asked if she “had ever played a pregnant lady.” Huh?

When the inevitable political question came up (of course, in this fraught social climate), she admitted that she never worried about being PC when someone asked a question essentially lamenting political correctness and its effect on comedy, because the show was there for a belly laugh, not politics, and definitely not a laugh in bad taste (hear that, Roseanne?). The conservative members of the audience (they were there, I could tell the white Chicago suburban crowd like New Yorkers can tell the “bridge and tunnel crowd”) approved loudly.

But, when one of the soccer mom types who either brought her children or her mother asked her if she had ever experienced a #MeToo incident, Carol was honest. She had not. She admitted she was lucky. She married the producer of the Gary Moore Show (the place where she began her ascent to fame), and overall the men she worked with her were gentlemen. But she really zinged the audience when she said if any guy had tried anything with her, she “would kick him in the balls.” Deafening applause, ensued perhaps an elusive show of unity.

I could go on and on with her stories … her fake lesbian kiss with Julie Andrews meant to be a joke on Mike Nichols, but Lady Bird Johnson ended up as the audience for that one … the chin operation that nearly ruined a retake of a big scene in the movie Annie where she played Miss Hannigan …

And she, a truly gracious lady, acknowledged the late Harvey Korman in several clips and Bob Mackie, the masterful designer of the costumes for that show (she guesstimated he had to produce during the 11 years of that show 17,000 costumes), Bob Mackie, still active and working for The Cher Show, a gay man whose life partner Ray Aghayan died in 2011. When one thinks about the get-ups Carol wore for her beloved characters like Mrs. Wiggins and Stella Toddler, and of course the curtain rod dress in her movie parody “Went With the Wind,” one sees the show as the work of several geniuses who all came together to create (while enjoying a glorious time doing so) a world of joy and laughter.
 

Mrs. Wiggins
Mrs. Wiggins

Curtain dress
The curtain dress

The show was one of those few moments in life where time stood still. But then it was over, like the words to that song:
 

Seems we just got started
and before you know it
Comes the time we have
to say, “So long.”

Carol Burnett Show cast

Now Carol's got her own youtube channel. Check it out!

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