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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A Secret Sex Life a Couple of Blocks Away

Samuel Steward aka Phil Andros

When I was younger and discovering gay sexuality through paperback books, I came up the work of Phil Andros. In the early 1990s, soon after I came out, I acquired (used) some of his leather/fetish-oriented fiction, which was published by an outfit called Perineum Press (what a name!). The book was called Different Strokes. It's been a while since I've read it (in fact, I just found it on my LGBTQ bookcase at home), but it contains descriptions of rough sex, verbal abuse, boots, leather … a world that, as I just found out, was occurring in real life very, very close to where I currently live in the Uptown area. A long time ago. Before Stonewall, gay liberation, rainbow flags, and prosperous/hipsterish couples pushing strollers.
 

Cover of Different Strokes by Phil Andros

Phil Andros, as I recently found out, was a pen name (and also the name of the prodigiously sexual hustler character in his books) for Samuel Steward. Born in the early part of the last century, he lived a double life as Dr. Steward, an English professor at two Catholic universities in Chicago, erotic artist/author, tattoo artist Phil Sparrow (including, at one point, for the Hell's Angels!), and, ultimately and consistently, sexual rebel. He was as openly gay as one could be in the days before Stonewall; he even decorated his first apartment in homoerotic murals that showed dick.
 

 

Samuel Steward tattooing as Phil Sparrow

 

Yet he expressed his sexuality not in trying to find a lover and live quietly and monogamously in the closet; no, his sexual world consisted of sailors on leave; married guys who, because they were on the receiving end of Sammy's amazing blowjobs, did not consider themselves gay; rough trade, especially with African-American guys from the South Side; and eventually, participation in the early days of openly gay leather BDSM begun by the equally maverick Chuck Renslow.
 

Sailors at 1940s great lakes naval base

Overall, he gloried in mansex, but given his background in literature and art, found ways to distill its essence in poems, fiction, and visual art. And his legacy was kept hidden until his elder years, post-Stonewall, when gay sexuality literally exploded.

There's so much more (and I will share more tidbits in future blogs, including his connection to 1970s gay porn), but what really floored me is where his sex life, which for many seems like a masturbatory fantasy or porn movie, occurred. A couple blocks from where I dwell. In a nondescript courtyard apartment building (I haven't found out the exact apartment number). I did check out the building on Zillow, and the apartments don't look that rehabbed. Maybe there's the original floor where Sam knelt before the boots of some greaser type in the 1950s.
 

Phil Andros' apartment building

As I said above, I will share some more tidbits, but in the meantime, you can check out a book on him, and you can also check out our early 1970s porn (including this J. Brian film based on one of his novels) to savor visually some of the amazing sexual energy that happened in that humble apartment in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.

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The Leather Flag

Leather Pride Flag

I remember pledging allegiance to the flag, starting in kindergarten. I never really understood at that time some of the words (“and to the Republic for which it stands,” what?), and even why we were looking at a piece of cloth attached to a pole.

When I worked at the public library when I was I high school, one of my jobs was to raise and take down the flag.

I got yelled at by the head librarian because I put the flag on a bench to fold it (technically it did not touch the ground) because no one was available to take the other end in order to fold it in a specific triangular shape.

One of my nightmares was my failure to take the flag down (it was supposed to be down by sundown). The flag was up all night on the pole. Oh no!

The United States has changed, of course, since the 1960s, and e pluribus unum really emphasizes the pluribus. So many subcultures have created their own flags as concrete symbols of their most significant values.

The gay leather BDSM subculture has carried its own flag in the wake of the gay liberation movement that occurred after Stonewall.

The flag was designed by Tony DeBlase, otherwise known as Fledermaus, a major mover and shaker in the gay leather/BDSM world at that time, in many ways shaping many of its values and their public expression in a variety of publications, especially Drummer and Dungeon Master magazines.
 

Tony DeBlase
Tony DeBlase

Tony first presented the design at the International Mister Leather event in Chicago, Illinois, on May 28, 1989.

Initial reaction to the flag was mixed.

According to DeBlase's article A Leather Pride Flag,

"Some, particularly on the east coast, reacted positively to the concept, but were quite concerned, some even offended, that I had not involved the community in helping to create the design."

The original flag is on display at the Leather Archives and Museum.

According to Marcus Schmoger, DeBlase’s wish was that there are diverse interpretations of the symbolism of the flag.

One of the most familiar ones is from Stacey, Ms. National Leather Association International 1996:

The red heart is for love, the white stripe for purity in an open, honest and understanding relationship, the black stripes for leather  and the blue ones for denim, both materials that are frequently worn in the scene.

Another interpretation:

Black, the color of BDSM followers; blue: for the followers with a jeans fetish; white, solidarity with the novices of the BDSM scene; the heart: BDSM has nothing to do with raw violence, but is practiced with mutual respect, consent, and understanding.

My fear of the flag really transmuted into a different emotion, a combination of pride and excitement, when I participated in several gay pride parades with the Chicago Hellfire Club. The front of our cohort carried a large leather flag, but we also carried (on poles) larger versions of hankies that represented different fetishes (so many colors!)

Thus, the main design of our cohort was flags, carried slowly and steadily, while other club members circled about wielding our floggers and paddles and whips.
 

Chicago Leather and King Pride contingent

And let's just say all our flags were up all night, and the next night.

Check out our collection of gay fetish movies, including the uber-leather/BDSM movie, Born to Raise Hell, and the exciting Dungeons of Europe series.

Tony DeBlase himself appears in our bondage flick, Rope that Works, which deftly integrates the erotic and the educational. Tie me up, Tony!
 

Tony DeBlase aka Fledermaus in Rope That Works (1984)
Tony DeBlase aka Fledermaus in Rope That Works (1984)
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“Poppular” Poppers: A Brief History and Photo Essay

“Poppular” Poppers: A Brief History and Photo Essay

 

Early ads for poppers in the late 1960s called them "aromas." At that time, aromatherapy was little known outside of France.

 

In 1969, outfits like JacMasters began to sell vials or "inhalers" containing isobutyl nitrite, and the first brand name was trademarked: Locker Room. Isobutyl nitrate, or amyl, is the original popper formula.

 

During the 1970s, poppers or "aromas" were marketed like a sexual incense to gay men. Rather than inhale the newly popular “aromas” of patchouli or sandalwood, gay men could inhale locker room or armpit scent, the smell of hot, rough, uninhibited sex. b2ap3_thumbnail_blacjackpoppersad.jpg

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_playgirlaugust1979.jpgPoppers had become so popular that, by 1977, The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine claimed that the use of isobutyl nitrite as a recreational drug had become a substantial $50 million a year business.

 

And even more brands such Bolt, Hardware, Thrust, Quicksilver (not thunderbolt) were first introduced around 1977-78.

 

The Bijou started selling them around that time because the company (Great Lakes Products) that was making these poppers was renting space from us to manufacture their poppers These name brands were owned by Rush (someone named Joe Miller).

 

By the late 70s, the popularity of the drug even extended to straight men and women.

 

In the August 1979 issue of Playgirl, a "cautious" user's guide to drugs and sex reports that amyl nitrate intensifies orgasms but also smells like glue. The article reports that amyl was banned by the FDA and replaced by butyl, "which smells like old tennis shoes and is sold as a 'room deodorizer.'"

 

Old tennis shoes? Could be quite stimulating in certain situations, depending on your fetish.  And that smell certainly does evoke the locker room, literally!

 

Some of the ads appealed to icons of masculinity: the traditional statue of David, harking back to pre-Stonewall gay bars, and the then-popular gay macho images of leathermen and cowboy.

  

The ubiquitous popper Rush was able to advertise in a plethora of gay publications; one famous add shows a giant bottle of “Rush” hovering over the “rush hour” of a city, which, in those days, didn't take place at the dusk of 5 p.m., but rather, in the late night and early morning hours (as implied in the image of the city) when the bathhouses and gay porn theaters were hopping.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_rushpoppersad.jpgThe popper bottle and the potent aroma one inhaled from it essentially powerfully rules from above but also, because it it releases an enveloping aroma, binds together the collective gay sexual culture represented by the titles of  gay magazines (as well as straight, looking at some of the magazine titles in the ad) of that time together. It was more than a powerful tool or symbol of sexual liberation; it became sexual liberation itself.

 

As the seventies progressed, the popper ads in gay magazines became more creative and catered to a variety of sexual tastes in this era of sexual liberation. For example, the ad for JacMasters in a 1976 Drummer Magazine shown below seems both campy and erotic.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_poppersad1.jpg

 

The bulging jockstrap on one of the action figures harks back to the physique magazines like Physique Pictorial. Yet the hand holding what vaguely looks like a bottle by the logo probably represents a handjob. Big bottle equals big cock. Inhaling the aroma will make your cock big and hard. Or even like a giant cock to the little men holding the big bottle of aroma!

 

And the imagery of fighting and bullets (in the ad above, the guys look like little G.I. Joes) often found in the ads featuring poppers was most telling; at one level, it fed into the archetypal sex-death trope, but it also could be read in hindsight as a frightening prefiguration of AIDS, when sex literally caused death. And now the gigantic brown bottle over the city in the Rush ad now becomes something a bomb or a missile.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_milwaukeecalendarpopperads.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_cowboypoppersad.jpg In the 80s, the AIDS epidemic swept away the sexually-charged gay culture of the 70s that created and responded to the popper ads, but poppers themselves went underground (unfortunately, in many cases, in fake, or non-amyl, formats). The mainstream gay press, because of the possible connection between HIV and the use of nitrate, eventually stopped running ads for poppers, but not after a struggle.

 

According to one source, “before the first official reports of AIDS in 1981, relatively few voices in the gay community had been raised to question what health problems poppers users might be causing themselves. A few attempts were made to curb sales, but the manufacturers always got around it by changing either the chemical formula or the product name. And the gay press, dependent on revenue from ads, did not care to blow the whistle on its own advertiser.”

 

Frighteningly, information linking popper use to karposi's sarcoma was apparently suppressed by both the gay media (because of the power of the advertisers) and by the right wing press, which of course saw AIDS as a deserved punishment for promiscuity.

b2ap3_thumbnail_statueofdavidpopperad.jpgThe FDA at first stood aside; as long as poppers were marketed as “room perfume for fags,” they would do nothing.

 

And one popper manufacturer even sent a letter to all the gay papers, reminding them just who was "the largest advertiser in the Gay press."

 

Then, upon the instigation of some activists and researchers in the mid-eighties, Congress passed a law outlawing the original amyl nitrate formulas; now the major ingredient is butyl.

 

There are numerous poppers being distributed under different names, and most people have their favorites: for example, Rush and Brown Bottle are old standbys for most people who first buy poppers (not taking away from long-time users that only like these brands); as time went on, people graduated to other brands.

 

Regarding false types of poppers,  for example, Can Opener, Private Stock, Platinum, and others, are truth are the same formula as Brown Bottle, but in different packaging, done to deceive people. Other current brands such D&E, Nitro, Zap, Man Scent, and Mr. Wonderful, will give people headaches; their manufacturers produce them to make money, not caring about quality and the intended purpose of the product.

 

About three years ago, the outfit that made the popper brand Rush was raised by the police. Supposedly, Joe Miller, the long-time manufacturer, committed suicide (this cause of death cannot be verified).

 

Six months ago, the story was circulating that someone had bought out the company. The outfit was back again selling its authentic product.

 

Will poppers ever become as “poppular” as they were in the 70s and 80s? As activities that were once part of the sexual underground become more mainstream in the 21st century, perhaps poppers in their true form will become once again become an exciting but now safe part of our diverse sexual culture.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_popperman.jpg


 

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