DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Midnight Sun

By Josh Eliot

 

My roommates and I lived at 19th and Castro for many years starting in 1984 when I was 22. The neighborhood had everything we needed. Between Market and 18th, just across from the Castro Theatre, was Marcello’s Pizza where they sell pizza by the slice to a non-stop line from opening to closing time. Two doors down was Louie’s Barber Shop which was always filled with guys checking each other out while they waited for their haircuts. Every three weeks or so I plopped my ass in one of those chairs for a crew cut on the sides while keeping it a bit longer on top, with spiking gel. While I changed my haircut over the years, it always seemed to revert back to that same look.

 

Louie's Barber Shop and Marcello's Pizza

Louie's Barber Shop and Marcello's Pizza

 

Donuts 24 was on the corner of 18th and Castro and was the place to cruise for your last chance hook-up after all the bars let out at 2am. For those truly too horned up to go home, a block away was Collingwood Park which was basically a baseball field with some extra land. Men would line up along the chain link fence, cruising the passersby and sometimes jumping into whatever random car might pull up. It was all a bit dark, murky and desperate, but my roomies and I would end up there from time to time.

 

Donuts 24 and the Patio Cafe

Donuts 24 and the Patio Cafe

 

The infamous Elephant Walk bar was kitty corner from Donuts 24 and became notorious as the place the cops came to when they exacted their revenge for the gays setting City Hall ablaze after the Dan White verdict. Police descended onto the Castro and the Elephant Walk, violently striking the bar patrons who were already filled with complete fury and disdain for the police state and justice system. The gays fought back and set police cars on fire. By the end of the night, dozens of police cars were set ablaze and 20 people were arrested.

We cooked at home a lot, but when we were too lazy we could pop across the street from our flat to the Canton Bistro for Chinese takeout. My roommates were: Alvonne, a student at San Francisco State University, Paul, a waiter at the Patio Café on Castro, and Brian, who did odd jobs like mover, waiter, bar back and call boy, advertising in local gay classified ads. We spent a lot of time at the Patio Café which had an incredible outdoor setting and a great cheap meal, because Paul would leave most of our ordered items off the bill. My aunt and uncle visited once with my parents so we took them there for lunch. Eating at the table right next to us was porn star Rick Donovan, with his sister I think. The café was buzzing about it so my aunt took the opportunity to swipe the ashtray and salt and pepper shakers while everyone else was transfixed on Donovan. The four of us were inseparable and, because we were in our early 20s, we related mostly to the Midnight Sun Video Bar as our top choice for a local hangout.

 

Josh with Castro Street roommates Alvonne, Brian and Paul

Josh with Castro Street roommates Alvonne, Brian and Paul

 

The Midnight Sun was a new concept at the time born from the new and exciting MTV generation. We were there for milestone moments like when Madonna rolled around on the floor while performing "Like a Virgin" at the MTV Awards, gathering anxiously to see premieres of videos from The Talking Heads, The Bangles, Bananarama, The Go-Go’s, Psychedelic Furs, Human League and Queen’s “I Want To Break Free.” Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry was tripping my trigger in those days, especially the Avalon album. There was a waiter friend of Paul’s at The Patio Café who was a dead ringer for a young Bryan Ferry. I tried every trick in the book to peak his interest, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

The Sun was not a place to necessarily brush up on your cruising skills, but more of a gay social scene where we all could form comradery with complete strangers who appreciate music and visuals on the big screen. Charging only $1.75 for a Seagram’s 7 and 7up and $1.25 for Budweisers, the small space was a gold mine for the owners. Literally a standing room only place with ledges for sitting along the side and back wall.

 

The Midnight Sun

The Midnight Sun

 

Wednesday Night was Dynasty night and you needed to get there at least 45 minutes before the show started or you would be stuck outside in line, not getting in until after the show - if you were lucky. Watching Crystal push Alexis into the lily pond for the very first time was the ultimate high. Everyone went wild! I remember seeing the episode on Halloween in 1984 where Alexis is put in jail, after which we hit the packed streets of Castro to take part in all the costumed madness! Dedicated fans didn’t miss a beat as we saw several drag groups with their “Free Alexis” banners! I guess it wasn’t only the Castro that was clicking with Dynasty’s theme that night. You know, I like to rummage through my spouse’s photos (as you might have read in my blog “Is That Al Parker In Your Photo?”) and, lo and behold, there he and his friends were, that same night in West Hollywood… dressed in drag and carrying “Free Alexis” signs!

 

Free Alexis Halloween costumes after Dynasty viewing

Free Alexis Halloween costumes after Dynasty viewing

 

The Midnight Sun’s VJ followed the crowd pleaser cues from the Dynasty clips and regularly showed classic fight scenes. I remember one in particular from The Turning Point with Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine, fighting and pulling each other’s hair on a rooftop! Anne Bancroft’s real name was Anna Maria Italiano and she was cousin to my spouse’s father. Unfortunately I never got to meet her!

The Midnight Sun is still going strong to this day but is now featuring a diverse weekly line-up including: drag shows, go-go boys, karaoke, throwback hits with 2 for 1 drinks and Latinx Thursday Nights. Next time you're in San Francisco, pay them a visit If you find yourself on the corner of 18th and Castro looking for some good clean fun.

 

Midnight Sun current lineup and interior

Midnight Sun current lineup and interior

 

Previous blogs in DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO series:
The Castro Theatre - Josh Eliot
The Badlands - Will Seagers

 

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

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Becoming Invisible

By Will Seagers

 

In other blogs I have mentioned the transition "into" the porn industry. This happened as my looks started to develop in a positive way and men became interested is seeing me... all of me! And, this includes the porn industry, too.

 

Will Seagers modeling portrait trio

 

This was a bit of a shock when all of this first started because I always thought that in my adolescence I was sort of awkward looking, to say the least. During high school, I thought the occasional trick was a charity fuck. Not too much self esteem there, eh?

Well, well, well! It was just after high school and into my first year at engineering school that my good old hormones (and looks) kicked in and things were in for a change... for the better. I started to lift weights, take vitamins and pay attention to how I squeezed myself into those lovely and popular "bell-bottoms" of the time. The family jewels were well displayed in those jeans as well as the good old 501s.

OK. So I had established a formula for getting myself laid as well as getting some pretty good jobs along the way. Of course, while hunting for jobs, the family jewels thing was toned down and replaced by a new desire to be "fashionable." Ha. I remembered getting myself all gussied up in a great Pierre Cardin tweed suit and parading my tush over to NYC to the Eastern Airlines building to apply as a Steward. I got the job. It was funny - I asked to hold the interview in French and that went over quite well! Bien sûr!

This pattern of looking good and saying the right thing (in the right language) went on for years as the formula for getting the jobs and men! Once firmly in the porn biz, I had a very good fifteen year run. BTW, I usually held down a decent selling job at the same time while keeping my screen persona on the Q.T.!

 

Will Seagers modeling nudes

 

Things really didn't change much on the attraction meter until my 60s. Yes. I said my 60s. I know, it even seemed uncanny to me that during my late 40s and all throughout my 50s the magic was still there. I have described in prior blogs about "The Beach" and luring many men. I just left out that I was almost old enough to be their father! Ha!

 

Two snapshots of Will Seagers

 

Then POW! The 60s hit. I know, I guess I shouldn't complain - I had a great run! But, it was as if I wasn't even there any more... no more turned heads, unwanted stares and the like.

Boy! When age caught up with me - it didn't fool around. It was like someone flipped a switch! First prostate cancer at age 60, then countless bouts of skin cancer... like the one from which I am currently recovering. Ouch! But, all that aside, I thought there was some niche for a noble looking older guy like myself. Towards the end of my 60s I came to the realization that les jeux sont faits - the game was up.

 

Will Seagers contemporary photo

 

I love writing these blogs. They give me the chance to relive my memories and an extraordinary live - for which I have no regrets - except becoming invisible.

 

Thank you to Will Seagers for use of his photos.

 

 

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

 

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FRANK ROSS, The Boss

By Josh Eliot

 

I spent hours at a time staring across the street at a filthy looking restaurant called the Go-Go Kitchen. It wasn’t the restaurant that caught my attention so much, but the exterior door next to it. A door leading to an upstairs apartment where every shade of rabbit fur coat was walking through it, sometimes with a man, sometimes without. It couldn’t have been more obvious. I’m no fool, I saw Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway starring “Jan Brady” on NBC in 1976. In that movie, Dawn became a sex worker, and she always wore a rabbit fur coat while walking the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. I’m not sure whose name was on the lease for that apartment, but he must have had a lot of “daughters” with a suspiciously similar dress code.

It was 1980 and I was working in the ticket booth at the Screening Room Theater, a place with quite a history. The first full-length adult hardcore feature legally shown in the United States premiered there in 1970, and today there’s a plaque on the building stating so. The film was Alex de Renzy’s Pornography in Denmark: A New Approach. It was billed as a documentary, which helped it avoid legal troubles.

 

Screening Room Theater exterior and plaque

Screening Room Theater exterior and plaque

 

In the 1980s, the Screening Room was a XXX Gay Cinema with live shows on stage. As I sat there analyzing the sex workers' behaviors, I felt two hands begin to rub my shoulders; it was my boss, Frank Ross. In addition to managing the theater, Frank became well known as an actor, producer and director. Some of his features include: Face to Face (aka San Francisco), Black Pack, Black and Bi and Made in the Shade and its sequel. He was a true New Yorker, a bit intimidating, with handsome looks and a tattooed muscular body.

 

Face to Face poster and Made in the Shade VHS cover

Vintage poster for Face to Face (aka San Francisco) and VHS cover for Made in the Shade 1

 

When he interviewed me for the job, he struggled with the idea of whether or not to hire me, because I had just turned 18 the week before. He was very protective of my naivete and took time before exposing me to all the different areas of the theater and its playrooms. As weeks passed and we became more comfortable with each other, he started sharing stories of his sexual adventures. His trysts blew my mind but helped me get more comfortable with accepting myself. I envied my co-worker who was already comfortable in his own skin and would go up to the projection booth and play around with Frank regularly. A dancer named TK, who would talk with me in the booth after the live shows, invited me to go to the Trocadero Transfer with all the dancers. He knew the doorman, so I got in no problem.

 

Trocodero Transfer exterior, Divine's honorary membership card, and a fan dancer

Trocodero Transfer exterior, Divine's honorary membership card, and a fan dancer

 

It was my first time seeing fan dancers, being in a club this size and bonding through party favors with the dancers. At sunrise, we were all at the beach where TK and I went into a cave by the Sutro Baths and played around. Sutro Baths and Lands End Beach are notorious gay cruising spots. When I came into work the next day, Frank had this shit eating grin on his face, like a proud papa. I guess strippers do kiss and tell. Frank totally patted himself on the back for kicking my ass out of the closet, and I guess after months of his influence, he did.

 

Sutro Baths and Lands End Beach images

Sutro Baths and Lands End Beach

 

Frank’s most infamous film as producer was made while I worked for him. He was excited to tell me the details, about a prison guard and convict who are handcuffed together during an escape. “Oh, like The Defiant Ones,” I said, “I love that movie.” He was impressed that I made the connection and invited me to watch them film on the movie set. The shoot was the next day, around the corner at the Bulldog Baths on Turk Street.

 

Bulldog Baths ad and token

 

Bulldog Baths ad and token

 

The infamous bathhouse had a real prison cell set, and he was very excited about it. It was too nerve-wracking for me, so I never went to the set. What a huge mistake! The feature turned out to be Wanted, starring Al Parker and Jack Wrangler. Frank Ross was producing and Steve Scott (Inches, Performance, A Few Good Men, Screenplay) was directing! Let me put this in perspective… this is how I see it: you have Steve Scott who is like the Martin Scorsese of gay porn, Al Parker is the Robert De Niro, and Jack Wrangler is Leonardo DiCaprio. The best of the best for that era, there is no topping that cast or crew. A huge regret not going to that set! FUCK!

 

Wanted DVD cover featuring Al Parker and Jack Wrangler

Wanted DVD cover featuring Al Parker and Jack Wrangler

 

I don’t know if my life would have taken a different direction had I gone to that set or not, but after leaving my Screening Room job in 1981, I wasn’t exposed to the Adult Film Industry again until I was hired at Catalina Video in 1987. Sadly, I recently found out that Frank Ross passed away on May 20th 2021, which made me think back about our time working together. Because we worked on different coasts, he never knew that I ended up working in the same industry as him. I wonder how he would have reacted.

But do you know what the real burning question in my mind is?

Are there still girls going in and out of that door next to the Go-Go Kitchen?

 

 

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.  

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Welcome Matt/Will

By Will Seagers

 
Man's Image introduction of and nude calendar featuring Matt Harper (aka Will Seagers)

Man's Image introduction of and nude calendar featuring Matt Harper (aka Will Seagers)

 

Born in Jersey City, N.J. in January of 1951, I spent the early part of my youth in the northern part of the state and my teens at the Jersey Shore. The very beginning of my teens was when I realized that I was gay and enjoyed it at every chance! Also, in my family's move to the shore I made a life long friend, Michael, who was also gay. Although we had no sexual relationship, our friendship made it a lot easier for both of us to better understand our blooming sexualities.

My education was fairly typical for the times. Parochial school for the first two years and then public school through high school. My 2nd grade public school teacher was from France and helped to create a life long interest in the country, language and culture of France. Oui, je parle français!

College years were not productive. I was in the tumult of coming out and exploring my sexuality. I studied engineering and journalism. I did not have the discipline for either of them. During these years I lived in Jersey City and would take the "PATH" train over to Christopher Street and see what trouble I could get myself into. That is where I was "discovered," while cruising the streets, by Man's Image Studios and Lou Thomas. (Lou, with Jim French, started Colt, and later went on to start Target Studios in 1974). Lou and I hit it off and remained friends for years.

 

Portrait of Will Seagers

Photo by Lou Thomas

 

Realizing college was not right for me at the time, I decided to take a break. I went to work for Eastern Airlines as a flight attendant. I spent two years with them. First in New York at JFK, where I got to utilize my French in flights between NY and Montreal. The following year, I was based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After my stint with the airlines, I moved around the country a lot in the '70s. I moved back to NY in '74. I had several more episodes of being "discovered" on the streets. Two of the photoshoots were actually straight. One for a hair magazine and the other for a ladies' magazine, Viva.

 

Will Seagers on the cover of a men's hair magazine, 1975
Will Seagers on the cover of a men's hair magazine, 1975
 
Photo from Viva Magazine

In Viva Magazine

 

After NYC came Tempe, Arizona (near Phoenix). My roommate/friend from San Juan had won a scholarship at A.S.U. and wanted to know if I wanted to move out there with him for the school year. Not tethered to NYC by anything serious, I agreed. My first gig was bartending at the Newtown Saloon and then the local disco - Maggy's, both owned by the same men. That lasted for most of my one year stay in Arizona. My final gig in AZ. was working for a man named Phil in his porn warehouse. He owned most of the "Book Stores" in the Phoenix area. It was interesting to view the workings of the porn industry.

In 1976, I received a phone call from Lou Thomas asking me if I was interested in working on Fire Island for John Whyte. It was perfect timing; Arizona was winding down.

I worked in The Pines for John Whyte for three summers... glorious ones at that! Mostly as a bartender, waiter and life guard; my job was loosely structured to say the least. Lou Thomas imposed on John Whyte to "borrow" me for a few hours one afternoon while I made a flick with Bruno ("Bruno and Will" in Bullet Videopac 6). It was a hot and steamy flick and I went right back to work that afternoon after a quick cleanup! Lots of other movies were shot in a similar fashion on Fire Island. 1976, my first season on F.I., I met Chuck Holmes, owner of Falcon Studio. He invited me to come to San Francisco and work for him. I took him up on that and wound up living in S.F. for 14 years... 3 were bi-coastal with summers on Fire Island.

 

Promotional photos from Jack Deveau's Fire Island Fever (Hand in Hand Films, 1979)

Promotional photos from Jack Deveau's Fire Island Fever (Hand in Hand Films, 1979)

 

At the end of the first Fire Island season, 1976, a large group of the guys from John Whyte's "Boatel" moved en masse to San Francisco. I had a job waiting for me with Chuck Holmes.. so I was set! I couldn't believe S.F. - I thought that I had died and gone to heaven! The men, the men, the men! Lots of work with various studios commenced, including working with Al Parker and his lover. This went on for over a decade, intertwined with various other full time jobs including manning San Francisco's first gay gym, The Pump Room, and becoming an electronics maven at Eber Electronics in the Castro, which was my first real selling job.

Shortly after moving to San Francisco, I met the first love of my life, Tom Beebe. He knew exactly who I was and placed no expectations on me in terms of my "film career." We lived together in his small one bedroom apt. in the South of Market neighborhood for thirteen years until he passed from AIDS.

Music. Another big part of my life. During the last year that I worked on Fire Island, I had a wonderful affair with a man named Michael. Michael moved to San Francisco, as well. He was instrumental in creating the club Dreamland. He asked me to be part of the family and work on lighting. I had been making tapes and circulating them around town with success. Eventually, I was asked to DJ at the club. Easter Sunday Tea Dance 1980 was my debut. I played there briefly and then moved to playing music at the bars in the Castro... primarily The Badlands and Moby Dick Bar. I could feel a change coming. On Labor Day Weekend of 1991, I left S.F. and returned to the east coast to start a new version of myself.

After a few brief solo years, I met my spouse Alan in 1995. We met on the dancefloor of NYC's Roxie - a NYC dance club. It was the very weekend I returned from a non-productive year in South Beach. From this point on I rekindled the salesman part of myself as well as the musical part. I sold pianos and organs and taught the basics of organ techniques. I still have and play a massive Allen Theater organ. I also revisited the consumer electronics field in Santa Fe, N.M at The Candyman, where I managed the audio/video department.

Now at 71 and retired in the Southwest, I frequently reminisce about this great adventure called my life!

 

Will Seagers & Richard Locke on the cover of Drummer in an image from Joe Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (left); Will Seagers on the cover of Playguy Vol. 1, No. 1 (right)
Will Seagers & Richard Locke on the cover of Drummer from Joe Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (left); Will on the cover of Playguy Vol. 1, No. 1 (right)

 

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

Will Seagers, present day image

 

Thank you to Will Seagers for providing the photos featured in this blog.

 
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Jim Steele
OMG! OMG! OMG! I am delighted to learn that he is alive and well. I was so in love with him! He was my ideal of a 'real' man. When... Read More
Saturday, 19 March 2022 03:59
BJ
yeah! glad to read this post, and yeah to having "Matt/Will" write it himself - thanks for sharing some of your life with us - and... Read More
Sunday, 20 March 2022 14:17
Joseph D. Kahoonei
Aloha. I Am So Happy To Know That Mr. Matt Harper Famously Known As Will Seagers Led A Great Life. I Always Looked Out For Him In... Read More
Sunday, 20 March 2022 18:32
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20,000 Men

posted by Madame Bubby

Gay director Joel Schumacher in a recent interview that he has slept with 10,000 to 20,000 men (well, that's not too specific a figure, but who can really keep count unless you are carrying around a “little black book” at all times).

Ok, let's do the math. Now, Joel is 79. He claims he started fooling around sexually at age 11. Thus, using the 20,000 maximum, he would have to have had sex five times a day for 55 years. Maybe some days he had more sex than others; I am thinking perhaps he may have attended orgies Friday and Saturday, giving him some weekday nights “off.”
 

Joel Schumacher
Joel Schumacher (Source: queerty.com)

In the interview, Schumacher does tie this sexual history back to the 1970s, where, according to much evidence, some of it anecdotal, a lot of gay sex was going on. The bathhouses were veritable sex palaces and even advertised as such. One person I know said that his memory of being gay in the seventies in Chicago meant readily available sex. And not just in bathhouses and movie theaters and bars. Everywhere. A cruise in a gas station would end up in sex in the gas station bathroom or the bushes next to the parking lot.
 

Gas station bathroom cruisin/sex from Grease Monkeys
Gas station bathroom cruising/sex from Jagaur's Grease Monkeys (1978)

Thus, even if 10,000, the low estimate (again, how would one really know?) could be close to the truth, if one counts every single sexual encounter, and I am making the assumption that not every encounter involved penetration, maybe.

In an attempt to place this, let's just say, “prolific” sex life in perspective, “Now a lot of gay people are getting married, they’re adopting, or they’re having children,” Schumacher said later in the interview. “There wasn’t any of that when I was young. If you went into a gay bar and there were 200 men in there, and you said, ‘Okay, who wants to have a little house with a white picket fence, and a dog, and a child, raise your hands,’ or ‘Who wants to get laid tonight?’ The concept of a lovely suburban life or raising children was not a high concept.”
 

Guys in Fair Oaks Bathhouse, 1978
Guys in Fair Oaks Bathhouse, 1978 (Source: Christopher Harrity, The Advocate, June 29, 2014, picture taken by Frank Melleno)

The 1970s was definitely a time of norm breaking, but, going beyond this time period, when being LGBTQ was not a privileged position in society. Schumacher also implies, it's easier to break norms, especially sexual norms, if you are privileged, and he admits he is. And related to privilege, especially economic privilege, he does claim he never did sex work or paid for it, either.

And of course AIDS changed everything, which Schumacher does admit. And so much more as LGBTQ persons embraced essentially conservative structures like serving in the military openly and especially legal marriage.

Thus, I wonder if the real issue here isn't the quantity of the sex partners, that Schumacher is just a gay version of those toxic masculinity boasters like Wilt Chamberlain who also claimed he slept with 20,000 women, or even, who cares?

I think it really is how we interpret the availability of sex in diverse social and cultural contexts. Taking away sexual choice doesn't necessarily make sex less available. And thus, a climate of easily available sexual choices doesn't necessarily mean sex is more available to you. Schumacher found he could act on his sexual identity in the wild 1970s. In his case, the “supply and demand” worked in tandem for him personally. Personally is the key word here. And I think Schumacher was not simply reducing sex or sex acts to numbers or checking off a list. His experience was the experience of many gay men in their personal sexual journeys. And they were finally given the freedom to choose, until AIDS took away that heady freedom. And it was the LGBTQ community that refused to allows persons with AIDS to be treated like numbers and in doing so, survived and thrived like Joel Schumacher has done.

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