A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!

By Will Seagers

 

Today's rather odd blog title indicates a duality in our visit of San Francisco's bygone days: SoMa/Folsom and The Haight. Partially because of one man - Sanford Kellman - who had legendary establishments in both sections of town.

It is hard to leave the SoMa/Folsom area without paying tribute to one of the most iconic bars on Folsom - The Bolt. Known to the gay community as a major leather bar, it drew visitors from far and wide. On any given night one could see the cream of the crop in terms of a "Man's Man" in this medium-sized venue. Quite frankly, I don't remember what the inside of the bar resembled because I was always looking at the incredible men it attracted! As a result, lots of contests and themed events took place there. I do remember iconic construction hardware and, in particular, construction hats as part of its theme. It was one of the first bars to incorporate chain-link fence as partitions in parts of the bar. This was used countless times in other bars (and films) due to the sexual undertones.

 

Chain-link fence in Chicago's Bijou Theater's dungeon room

Chain-link fence in Chicago's Bijou Theater's dungeon room

 

And, I can't leave this part of SoMa/Folsom history without mentioning "The Eagle!" Again we find ourselves in the "thick" of leather country! It had an indoor and vast outside patio. With a high fence as its perimeter, the outside patio played host to Sunday Beer Bashes where lots of its aforementioned leather crowd took advantage and LOTS of skin was exposed. Perhaps, The Eagle was most famous for its Leather Contests. Runways were constructed out on the patio where Leather Daddies and the like strutted their stuff to win some highly coveted titles. Yes! The Eagle deserves Icon status, as well!

 

SF Eagle ad

SF Eagle ad

 

Last but not least on our SoMa/Folsom bar tour is The Powerhouse, another legendary leather venue. Located at 1347 Folsom, across the street from the infamous Dore Alley, this hot spot hosted lots of hunky, bare-chested men. Also, it was known for the Bare Chest Calendar Contests that were held monthly. One's tour of the SoMa/Folsom area was not complete without a stop over at this location.

 

Dore Alley and Powerhouse staff

Oh, that infamous alley! (L) & The friendly inmates at The Powerhouse (R)

 

Back to Sanford Kellman. In 1977, he ventured into the Haight/Ashbury area (1748 Haight St. to be exact) to open one of the most successful dance clubs in San Francisco's gay history - The I Beam! Mr. Kellman carried his construction item theme to a grand level in this club. Hung above the spacious hardwood dance floor was a replica of an actual I Beam wrapped in silver mylar. A great sound system was created for the space by noted audio specialist Randy Schiller, who also provided systems for Castro bars such as The Badlands (where yours truly played for four years). Randy also provided great sound for lots of parties at large around the city such as at The Galleria.

Now, more about The I Beam. Upon entering, one had to ascend a major staircase, as the club itself was on the second floor. (Or was it the third? Lol.) After passing the coat check you encountered a massive game room filled with pool tables and pinball machines. The long bar was to the right, flanking the huge dance floor. Entertainment was brought to you by great DJs like Timmy Rivers, Steve Fabus and Michael Garrett, just to name a few. I remember many times when it got so hot in there that you would skid on the sweat on the dance floor! No joke! Leaving the club could be a bit of a challenge. With the popularity of Quaaludes and that staircase you had to navigate a second time on your way out, many revelers took a tumble! All kidding aside, this club and Mr. Kellman definitely left their mark on the city!

 

I Beam flyer

I Beam flyer

 

Located at 1840 Haight St., at the end of Haight and across from Golden Gate Park, was Bones. This bar preceded The I Beam by a few years and provided the neighborhood and the community with many DJ talents. Coming to mind were the two DJs most frequently behind "The Wheels of Steel" (once again) - Timmy Rivers and Michael Lee. A two-man team known to most as just Jack and Jerry were its owners. Although Bones was not as large as The I Beam, it sported a very sophisticated sound system using Klipsch Corner Horns and top end electronics. (Systems like this put Bones in a league like David Mancuso's LOFT of NYC, famed for its sound from way back at the very beginning of dance clubs.) Like the I Beam, Bones would get hellishly hot and the dancers would usually leave the club drenched! Because of its size and drawing power, it was inevitable that Bones would be eclipsed by the I Beam and close.

 

Klipsch Corner Horns

Klipsch Corner Horns

 

So, praise be given to those who invested in our bar-going and nightclub pleasures from one end of San Francisco to another! A good time was had by all!

 


 

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!”

 

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Diving into SoMa/Folsom: A TALE OF TWO STUDS

By Josh Eliot

 

The Stud Bar in San Francisco’s South of Market District, as Will Seager’s blog Long Live The Stud has attested, was my favorite place to go during the early 1980s. Before I moved to the Castro, and while I was hanging with my friends from the insurance company, The Stud was our hangout. For a brief period of time, my high school girlfriend, Lisa, moved from Rhode Island to live with me, causing me to “come out” much faster than I thought I would. But even after I told her I was gay, we remained close friends and roommates for a time. The Stud Bar featured an extremely enlightened crowd the likes of which I’ve never come across again in any bar, anywhere. It was straight, mixed with gay and bi, all with a punk/new wave flair, with a very positive and lively atmosphere. It was like being in a room with all the “cool” kids, yet they weren’t dickheads like they are in the movies. The music was incredible and yes, we either started or ended our nights of drinking at Hamburger Mary’s across the street. Wayland Flowers and Madame, dressed as a punkette, were sometimes seen in the crowd on Monday “punk night.” Etta James, Sylvester, Two Tons of Fun and even Dianne Feinstein made appearances during the decade.

 

Stud interior, Sylvester poster, new wavers

 

I met one of my first boyfriends there, Philipp. Philipp was German with blond hair and blue eyes and so tall that it hurt my neck to stretch up and kiss him. Around the same time, Lisa started seeing a really cute “bi” guy who was also blond. It was kind of surreal to see us both hanging with these guys across the bar at the Stud, after spending so much time as a couple in high school. I think it was a smooth transition because we were such good friends for so long. One night, she told me that her new boy-toy was taking her to a straight bathhouse. In the 1980’s, the gays weren’t the only promiscuous ones! It sounded like she got thrown smack dab into the middle of an orgy in this large room that had back-to-back mattresses on the floor. Not to be outdone, I mentioned to Philipp that I had never been to a bathhouse. After making out with him while lying in the middle of Market Street by the main stage at the Castro Street Fair, he told me he was taking me to one. We went south of Market to Club Baths at 8th and Howard. I had no idea of what to expect because I hadn’t watched that fabulous movie, The Ritz, with Rita Moreno at that point in my life. The Ritz (1976) takes place inside a gay bathhouse in Manhattan and is based on Terrence McNally’s play of the same name.

 

The Ritz poster and images with Rita Moreno

 

We checked into the room, showered, jacuzzied, had a drink at the bar in our towels, then had a good time with each other back in the room. Now, I was 19, maybe 20 at this point, so of course I couldn’t just roll over and go to sleep like Philipp did. Once he was into a deep snore, I tiptoed out and quietly closed the door behind me. The place was in full swing at this point and I caught quite a show going on anywhere and everywhere. My eyes locked on this hot, hairy stud beating off in the showers and, just as I headed his way, Philipp appeared out of nowhere. Thank goodness I wasn’t lip locked yet. I told him I was hot and sweaty in the room and needed to shower, so we did and then returned to our room - for a sleepless night, on my part! Philipp and I saw each other pretty regularly for a couple of months, but I guess it was the last straw for him when he caught me in a hot tub with some guys at the Woods Resort in Russian River. It was my first time at the Russian River, so of course I was like a kid in the candy store, and Philipp fell asleep again. I was barely out of the closet and monogamy was the last thing on my mind. I tried to not be such a dick to someone who really was treating me very special, but it was beyond my ability to control myself in these sexually charged places.

He stopped calling after that trip to the Russian River and it was a little awkward, at first, seeing each other at the Stud Bar. Eventually, Lisa returned to Rhode Island and I was hanging out more with the guys Fritz, Fred, Peter and Richard from the insurance company. (Read: Everybody’s Free to Feel Good for more info on them!) Richard was the straight one of the group and his British girlfriend was best friends with Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees. When Siouxsie came to visit, we all went to the Stud Bar and, even though I was never a fan of it, most of us did coke and Quaaludes. That was an awesome combo, I might add.

 

Siouxsie and the Banshees

 

The bouncer/doorman gave me shit about my (fake) ID and made me stay outside with him while my friends went into the bar. Even though he had let me in with no issue many times prior. Once there was no line at the door to get in, he didn’t hesitate to rip the fly of my blue jeans wide open, cop a feel and plant a deep “Frencher” on me, right there on the street. I was loving it, especially on the ludes! Once satisfied with himself, he broke his bear hug on me, I arranged myself, then he slapped me on the ass and let me into the bar. The crowd, of course, was going wild for Siouxsie, so much so that she darted out of the place shortly after arriving. Sheri (I think that was her name) was a bartender at the time who was so sweet and friendly. She looked like a hot Pat Benatar with leather arm bands. She told me the drink I ordered was on “him” and pointed across the bar to the bouncer/doorman. She told me, “Be careful of that guy,” and I should have taken her advice. I ended up going on a couple of dates with him. He was a Harley biker dude, so that kind of turned me on. It was very daddy and his boy! I can’t remember his name, and I’m “sorry/not sorry” because he ended up giving me my first (and only) case of the clap. Philipp, of all people, was the one who told me about and took me to the free clinic when I randomly explained my “burning” symptoms over drinks at the Stud.

I guess the title of this blog really should have been:
A Tale of Two Fabulous Studs and One Dirty Biker

 

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

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An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills

By Will Seagers
 
Big handful of pills

 

From as far back as I can remember the use of drugs was inextricably woven into the fabric of gay sex and clubbing. Although trends and the drugs of choice for that day have changed over the decades, there is still an unspoken need for their presence.

The chronology for all of this is not meant to be exact. But, having been there personally for a lot of this, it will be anecdotally close to the mark.

Weed was and still remains the favorite for the widest audience. Its effects were calming (for the most part). In the "Summer of Love" - 1969 - with Woodstock and the ever expanding gay bar scene in the major cities, it became ubiquitous as part of a good time.

For myself, my episode with marijuana (by itself) was rather short lived. I liked it in conjunction with LSD to take off some the harsh edges that were encountered. That was one of the first combos that I can remember.

 

Assortment of drugs

 

LSD was one of my favorite adventures. On my first trip with orange sunshine at the age of 18 or so, I remember being at my friend's house and being so high that I was watching cartoons in my cupped hands! Acid in the early days was QUITE powerful and should have been done in small doses. Hey, what did I know? I'll tell you what I didn't know at first. It took a good 45 minutes to come on. So, if you were an impatient kiddo like me... you took another hit! Ha. And, then the space ship took off! I found sex on acid was very bizarre - I did not like my partners morphing in front of me! Lol.

In the early 70's, some RXs were handy - if you liked downers. Seconals, Tuinols, Placidyls, and of course the ever popular Quaalude! One could get quite messy on any of these. And, there was no such thing as inhibitions either. If you could remain alert enough... the sex could be a lot of fun. I also need to mention Valium. Although a downer itself, it was quite a rescue pill in the case of a bad trip. I always remember them being brought out at the end of a long Saturday night/Sunday morning on Fire Island!

 

Seconal pills

RX had nothing to do with it!

 

On the other side of the rainbow were the "stimulants." In the early days, the good ones required an RX, too. Black Beauties were first prescribed by "Diet Doctors" as a quick way to shed pounds. Side effects - life in the (very) fast lane and no need to sleep for at least a day or so. "Christmas Trees" - Dexamil - were more fun in that they were half an upper and half a downer. From that you attained a pleasant "sideways" condition that lasted for hours. I was given my first of these Bi-Phetamines by a fellow flight attendant. They did the trick on overnight flights! Recreationally, they were taken with acid for a little additional color!

Edging into the 80s, another chapter unfolded - MDA and all of it sister derivatives. This had to be the best drug for sex and dancing that ever rolled down the pike. Being the ancient grandmother to ecstasy, it did race up the heart to achieve its goals. Regardless of the injury rate, it remained at the top of the list for the first few years of the 80s.

Looking back at all of this, it was amazing to see what new drugs came out and how they changed the culture. As nightlife became "morning life," cocaine and speed became more and more popular as the need to stay up increased. Cocaine supplanted weed for many as their drug of choice. Its "rush" coincided with the more rapid pace of the mid to late 80s. Valiums to the rescue at the end of a coke weekend!

Right on the heels of the coke phenomenon came crystal in the mid to late 80s. It was the ultimate expression of the "up for three days" culture. Although its primary feeling was that of raw sex, it had the downside of creating a lot of impotence! So, out of necessity a little blue pill (Viagra) came on the scene - to bring everyone back to life! More than any other drug, crystal was extremely dangerous. It was highly addictive and destructive to major systems in the body. I speak with experience with regard to this "ex-friend." I literally moved away from S.F. to save myself from what could have been my demise. I had been a member of the "up for three days club." With some soul searching and brief moments of sanity, I made arrangements to move back east and rehabilitate myself. It worked!

I am looking back at this and sharing this in almost disbelief... How did I make it through all of this? It was the most decadent of times with no guard rails to be seen anywhere! I am just glad that with a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other, the angel prevailed! That alphabet soup of powders and pills is all in the past... with some astonishing memories!

 

 

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
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s

 

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(Un)Easy Riders

By Josh Eliot

 

Who doesn’t like a good road trip? Our very first one for the Catalina Crew was when we drove from L.A. to San Francisco in 1992 to shoot a movie called Easy Riders. Randy White and Bill Marlowe headed the cast, and we shot their scene in the downtown flat my producer Scott Masters (Nova Video) rented for us. I lived in San Francisco from 1980 to 1989 until Catalina closed their studio and moved me, with them, back to Los Angeles. Since my producer did not join us on this trip, I took advantage of leaving his watchful eye back in L.A. and cast a bunch of my San Francisco friends as extras in the movie. I would typically turn in a very generic script for Masters to approve and then on shoot days I would bring my real script to set. Nothing malicious, he was just from a different generation and had a hard time seeing my vision on things. The version I showed him did not have the sequence I was shooting with my friends and Randy White. We found an amazing spot with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background and shot the “movie within a movie” scene. A ranger came by and asked us if we had a permit, but when I told him we were students from the Art Institute working on a class project, he said to have a good time and let us continue. My San Francisco friends, the crew and I drank quite a bit the night before on Castro Street and we were all pretty hung over. We were all still in our 20s, and when the producer's away, the kids will play.

 

Josh Eliot and friends with Randy White

Josh Eliot and friends with Randy White

 

From San Francisco, we went to the Russian River in Guerneville (Sonoma County). We checked into the Fifes Resort and the gracious owners told us to do whatever we wanted to as far as filming. We had free roam to film fuck scenes anywhere, any place, any time. Midweek, Chi Chi LaRue drove into town from L.A. with more models for the additional scenes we needed to shoot. Chi Chi worked in the marketing department for Catalina at the time and was not directing yet. I recall she came to get familiar with how we shoot the scenes. The first night, we all ended up at the Rainbow Cattle Company in the middle of Main Street and again we “Tied One On.” The River is very rural and “hillbilly-ish,” but a gay mecca at the same time. A very interesting combination. While walking down Main Street to the restaurant for dinner, Chi Chi was in full drag and acting out. It was like that scene from John Waters' Pink Flamingos where Divine is walking through downtown Baltimore to the song “The Girl Can’t Help It.”

 

Rainbow Cattle and Fifes Russian River

 

Rainbow Cattle and Fifes Russian River

 

The next couple of days, the filming went great, but we were definitely hung over (again!) so it was “slight” torture. I got the idea to write an additional scene featuring Chi Chi as the town drunk wandering through the forest. It was taboo in my producer’s eyes to include a scene like this featuring a drag queen, and trust me, I never stopped hearing about it once he saw it in the final cut. I don’t mean to rag on Scott Masters, as I have such great memories of our time working together and I learned so much from him in the process. I will dedicate an article to him soon. It’s just that he wasn’t exactly flexible and I was still in my rebellious stage, wanting to see how far I could push things.

 

Easy Riders poster and Chi Chi LaRue with Josh Eliot on set

Easy Riders poster and Chi Chi LaRue with Josh Eliot on set

 

Later that night, the cast and crew ended up at the Rusty Nail Bar just outside of town. Chi Chi was ruling the place, as always, and we were all two sheets to the wind. There was this hot guy in a brown pick up truck I spotted when we arrived who was staring me down from across the bar. I had my liquid courage, so I started talking to him. Before I knew it, I was tossing the van keys to Orlando Bello (my 2nd Videographer) so he could drive everyone back to the resort. Suddenly, I was zooming down a dirt road in the passenger seat of that brown pick-up truck. That dirt road turned into something that no longer looked like a road, but still we kept driving. It felt like we were going straight up a mountain and I was being tossed around like a ragdoll. This is where my nerves kicked in. I was very uneasy and thought, oh shit, this guy’s a serial killer and I’ve made a huge mistake. I tried not to freak out, but inside I was tripping. The drive lasted forever when we finally got to level ground. I could tell the elevation was high even through everything outside was pitch black. We passed what looked like a shanty shed, then drove another 500 or so feet, when we came to a stop. It was another shanty looking building. We got out and went inside. It was definitely a homemade shack but it had generator power, some bits of furniture and a TV/VCR with porn tapes lying around. How appropriate! I’m not going to get graphic, but the sex was amazing. This guy was hot and handsome with abs to die for. Well, hopefully not. I realized he was just a hot corn-fed hick with a killer piece, but it wasn’t made of metal, it was between his legs.

In the morning, we woke up, did it again, then he offered me a shower before taking me back to the Fifes Resort. The shower was a bit of walk outside and up a hill, consisting of a cinderblock base and a garden hose that spewed out freezing cold mountain stream water. As I was shivering through my shower, I looked off in the distance and now everything made sense. A field of dreams, if you will. Marijuana growing as far as you could see. I was smack dab In the middle of a pot farm. When I got back to the resort, Orlando was a bit pissed at me because I ditched them all, leaving him to buy the drinks. I told him I would pay him back from the budget. He was happy and said, “So how was it?” I replied, “You tell me,” as I pulled a gallon sized Ziplock bag stuffed with weed out of a brown paper bag. A gift given to me before I left the “farm.” He was thrilled, all was forgiven and we lit up before going to shoot our final scene in the bunkhouse with Tom Farrell and Adam Archer. (The best scene in the movie, I might add.)

The point of all this? Easy Riders went on to win Best Picture at the Grabby Awards in 1993, so I guess being stoned, hung over or tipsy when shooting a porn movie didn’t turn out so bad.

 

Josh Eliot, Jeff, Randy White, Bill Marlowe and Orland on the Easy Riders set

Josh Eliot, Jeff, Randy White, Bill Marlowe and Orlando on the Easy Riders set

 

Thank you to Josh Eliot for use of the photos.

 


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

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Grass, Weed, Pot, Or Any Other Name

The early 1970s. An affluent suburban landscape with plenty of space between spacious homes that today would be characterized as vintage. The high school that serves part of this district is a 1960s building with only two floors, bright brick on the outside, gleaming white tiles in the hallway, and wide windows, quite progressive compared to the multistory, dark brick, and overall prison-like structures that were the norm in previous decades.

Yet across the road a ragged piece of what might originally been a forest preserve served as a hangout to the cliques in that high school called “freaks” or “loads.” (I was never sure about the difference between the two in my marginalized social status.) They wore flannel shirts, faded Levis, and big boots (the girls too). They sported long hair (and I remember so many blonds). They really made a point of being distinct from the Protestant WASP jocks and cheerleaders that pretty much ran the school and who probably ended up in that day’s one percent.

And they smoked in that area, which everyone called The Hole. Now I’m not sure if any other type of activity was going on (given that name), because I was afraid to check it out, but it was common knowledge that smoking was going on, and not just cigarettes. Yes, they smoked what many at that time called grass. Diane, a girl on my French class who identified as a load, confirmed that information. Diane was a load (and I got the feeling she may have dealt the substance in hindsight).

Flash forward to college. I was a virgin in the world of illicit substances, until Denise and Punky and some other girls introduced me to the joys of smoking pot (we called it that name by that time). Denise always seemed to have it, because she got it from some big black guy named T.J. Punky too, because she was a punk gal who knew artsy guys on the North Side of Chicago. Denise and I smoked something called “Sense A Million,” which was supposed to be quite potent. I remember vaguely wandering through tunnels that connected the buildings on the campus and making claims that the overhead lights were beautiful and brilliant.

Fast forward to my young adulthood, gayling in the city both before and after coming out, and once again pot seemed to be central to my social activities. The lady who cut my hair used to deal (I had to call and ask for shampoo), and one year she gave me a leafy pot “bud” for Xmas. Another friend used to get it from some unknown dealer in the artsy neighborhood, and often weekend consisted of our own private “pot parties” at my place. We made pizza from scratch while high during the munchies phase (while the pizza was baking, we ate the standard Doritos and donuts).
 

Bag of Doritos

One time this friend and I went a jack off party completely stoned. On the way to the party, we started putting the words “lava lamp” or “planet of the apes” into various movie titles. Think: Our Lady of Planet of the Apes, On A Clear Day You Can See Planet of the Apes, or my favorite, Hello, Lava Lamp. When I came up with that one, I collapsed onto someone’s grassy front lawn, laughing so hard I could not breathe. Needless to say, my wiener did not function very well at the jack off party, but I did end up that night taking home a hot black guy who dressed like a cowboy (who was also stoned or drunk and as a result, a limp dick).
 

Lava lamp

In my more mature years, financial exigencies have prevented me from enjoying the vicissitudes of this marvelous substance.

Based on the above, I associate pot/weed/grass with a time when social activities didn’t depend on technology. Yet even though one could argue that getting stoned wasn’t exactly the best way to connect, when everyone is stoned … or even just two persons … I found that in some persons a sense of humor arise that were not always present in other situations, even a repressed poet or musician.
 

Happy person smoking pot

Overall, I found the best “pot highs” to be a different release of inhibitions than being drunk; senses were heightened, and sometimes very amazing creative thoughts appeared and disappeared. No violence, no teary confessions, no hangover. Everything is fun, silly, and everything tastes good. Joy. Unabashed, uninhibited joy.

Maybe the cock doesn’t rise up literally when one ingests pot, but the Romantic poet Coleridge’s imaginative “fancy” did from the depths of my cannabis-intoxicated soul. That same poet wrote the famous dream-vision poem Kubla Khan under the influence of opium.
 

1979 Coleridge opium induced vision

Maybe that could be a motivation to finally legalize that marvelous grass, weed, pot, or any other name.
 

Pot leaf
 
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