Pics, Pics & More Pics... Life's a Beach

By Will Seagers

 

Will Seagers with camera on Men's Hairstylist magazine cover

With camera on the Oct. 1975 cover of Men's Hairstylist Magazine

 

In keeping with the season, I have another photo spread blog for you. Beaches, beaches and more beaches in many corners of the country and outside, too!

This first photo was from the trade magazine Men's Hairstylist. It was shot by a prominent N.Y.C. Fashion photographer. And, my hair was clipped for the occasion by the legendary coiffeur of the time, Sabu. You see, I was in front of and behind the lens. Nothing to do with the beach, but it was coincidentally the Nikon I used in a lot of these shots.

Starting off at a very early age and living in the northern part of New Jersey, my family (parents/aunts & uncles) would shuttle the kiddies down to the "shore" on sultry hot summer days. Pic #1 is of Asbury Park. It was famous, festive and usually loaded with city escapees like me.

 

Ashbury Park, New Jersey
The beach at Asbury Park. Not from the 50s when I first went!

 

In 1963, my parents bought a house in West Deal located in Monmouth County about three miles from the beaches of N.J. This second pic is of the (evolved) Elberon Beach Club. When my family had a membership there, it was quite a bit simpler... but, still a great day at the beach!

 

Elberon Beach Club
Although a lot more glam than when I went in the 60s, a great beach and pool!

 

About four years later, my parents got the itch to move to the lovely shore community of Spring Lake about 15 miles south of W. Deal. It was a well-to-do community with a rich history. Picture #3 shows one of the remaining sprawling Victorian hotels left from the turn of the 20th century - The Essex and Sussex Hotel. Typical of the Jersey shore communities, one had to have a membership and badge to get on the beach or to the pool houses.

 

The Essex and Sussex Hotel
Where I spent my high school years - Spring Lake, N.J.
 

Fast forward to the early 70s and we have moi around the age of 21 clad in one of my first Speedos (striped to boot!), Picture #4. Although this pic was taken at the lovely guest house resort Arcos Blancos just south of San Juan's Condado area in Ocean Park, I was not posed near the wonderful pool or very entertaining bar for which they were famous. Actually, I think I had just finished a trick with the owner, again!

 

Will Seagers at Arcos Blancos, San Juan
Fresh off the Condado Beach of San Juan!
 

Now, the next sets of pictures refer back to the old question: which came first - the chicken or the egg? In this case it was both!

In the late 70s, I was shuttling frequently between my new home in San Francisco and my prior home in NYC... let's make that Fire Island! A simple headshot, Picture #5 was taken on the beach in The Pines... probably during a work break. For three years, I worked for John Whyte's Boatel as waiter, bartender and life guard. Pic #6 shows my lifeguarding domain. This pic was taken from the top deck of the Boatel to which the pool belonged. Pic #7 welcomes you into the private harbor, which was just down the boardwalk from Mr. Whyte's Blue Whale, where the grand institution of the "Tea Dance" was held every afternoon around 4. Pic #8 Shows another institution in The Pines for the muscle boys and those who aspired to be - Merrill's Gym. It was his back deck and boy did it get packed right after the beach and just before Tea Dance... guys getting their pre- Tea Dance pump! And, pic #9 shows how everything on that beach was beautiful... from the boys right down to the not-so-normal sand castles!

 

Will Seagers headshot at a Fire Island beach

Relaxing at the beach after my lifeguarding at the Pines' Boatel pool.

 

Boatel aerial shot
A nice aerial shot of my “domain" taken from the top deck of the Boatel!
 
s Fire Island Pines sign
Once you’ve been there you’ll never forget - Fire Island!
 
Fire Island gym images
The first “gym” on Fire Island - Merril’s Gym - where the boys would get a quick pump before showing up at Tea Dance!
 
Fire Island beach photos
There are no ordinary sand castles on Fire Island!
 

On the professional side of photography, I was proud to be selected for Pic #10, taken by the photo/artist Tom Bianchi, which appeared in his photo book, Fire Island Pines. Another man of many talents (DJ and photographer to mention just two), Henry Winslow, snapped a very impressionistic photo of me fresh out of the shower at my hosts Dr. Bob Oliveri's bayside Fire Island home in Pic #11.

 

Tom Bianchi photo of Will Seagers from his Fire Island Pines book
From the Tom Bianchi photo book, Fire Island Pines!
 
Henry Winslow photo of Will Seagers
One of my favorite “artsy” photos, taken by the multi talented Henry Winslow. Fresh off the beach and fresh out of the shower.
 

Back in town. For those who couldn't make it out to The Island, there was quite a nice consolation prize... The Christopher Street Pier. With the ruins of a former pier warehouse, lots of shenanigans went on... if the police were not in the vicinity! It's very truly yours sitting there for all to see in Pic #12. This was one of my first print work assignments for Man's Image Studios of New York. Barely legible along the left border of this picture is an autograph and message to my soon-to-be partner Tommy.

 

Will Seagers in Man's Image photo at Christopher Street Pier
At another “beach” in New York, the former Christopher St. Pier, I posed for an early Man's Image Studio photo shoot. That pier served valiantly as the local beach for the West Village.
 

Now, for the California portion of bi-coastal summer living! San Gregorio, located about an hour south of San Francisco, offered the quintessential "mountains meet the beach" west coast venue. Like Fire Island, it was clothing optional. That option was rarely chosen! Pic #13 shows the long and picturesque beach/mountain vista. Here again, in Pic #14, the no clothes option was taken! It was important to remember just how cold that Pacific Ocean water could be. Let's just say it had a shrinking effect! Many beach goers never set a toe in it!

 

San Gregorio nude beach
San Gregorio, just an hour south of San Francisco, was almost the perfect nude gay beach - except for ball-shrinking cold Pacific water!
 
Will Seagers at a nude beach
Quick in and quick out of those icy waters!
 

The other main area of interest just north of San Francisco was the Russian River Resort area. Pic #15 show me with both Tommy and my friend Roger in or near the river's edge. Both of these guys share a May 22nd birthday! Pic #16 shows the original and and playfully manipulated versions of me in the Russian River enjoying its perfect temperature. (Manipulation was courtesy of my buddy and talented DJ George Ferren!) Pic #17 was perfect at showing how "chance encounters" could happen at any time along those river banks!

 

Will Seagers with Tommy and Roger at the Russian River
Double take! My Tommy and I and my dear friend Roger (both May 22nd boys!) here frolicking or about to at the River!
 
Will Seagers, Russian River, 1976
Fast forwarding to 1976 and another “beach”… the infamous Russian River!
 
Russian River social life
“Social Life” was good along the Russian River banks… Random meeting abounded!
 

After losing my partner Tommy in 1989, I decided to reshape my life and move back to the east coast. Of course, this meant looking for a new beach to call home. In very short order, I discovered (another) very popular clothing optional beach at the northern tip of New Jersey's Monmouth County - Sandy Hook. Shy as I am, here we have another "here's looking at you" nudist shot - Pic #18. The calm and much warmer Atlantic was a treat for the unclad body! Socializing was easy at this beach, as the atmosphere was quite relaxed. Appearing with a beach buddy in Pic #19, the relaxed attitude is rather apparent. And for a final beach picture, me enjoying a drink at the Waikiki Sheraton in Pic #20.

 

Will Seagers at a nude beach
Yep! Another nude beach. This time it's NJ's Sandy Hook! After my return to the East Coast in the 90s this became my default summer home.
 
Will Seagers and friend at Sandy Hook beach
More fun and socializing on the Sandy Hook Beach. Names are withheld to protect the innocent!
 
Will having a drink at a Hawaii beach
Having a drink at the Waikiki Sheraton.
 

I truly miss the beautiful beaches, whether they be oceans or rivers. Those days are all in the past. My past few years have been filled with skin cancer related issues. My final photo, #21, is just last August - recovering from Mohs procedure #10. All of those glorious sunny beach days came with a price. I wish to share with all of my Bijou family a simple warning: The Sun is not your friend.

 

Will healing after a recent Mohs procedure
One last recent picture illustrating what happens after a life of chasing the Sun. My skin cancer surgeon and I are on a first name basis!
 

Thank you to Will Seagers for use of his photos.

 

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!”
A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!
Back to Basics: "Staying Vanilla in a Flavorful Culture!"
A Little Secret
"I love a Parade!" Recollections of the 1977 S.F. Gay Pride Parade

 

 

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trident1000
Hi, Will! Wishing you speedy healing. "What's an SPF?" when Hawaiian Tropics Deep Tanning Oil doubles as lube? All the best, ... Read More
Wednesday, 05 July 2023 21:27
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There’s a Gloryhole WHERE??!

By Josh Eliot

 

I’ve written previously about my best friend and co-worker at Catalina Video, Chet Thomas. His real name was Tommy, but from time to time we referred to each other as Sal & Sal. We both liked the nickname so much when we heard it from a “loose” character in the movie Scandal, with Joanne Whalley-Kilmer and Bridget Fonda, that neither one of us would let the other use it exclusively. When we were out and about, on the hunt “not for cunt,” we each took on the character and nickname of “Sal.” You see, just by that last sentence I’ve changed back into Sal before your very eyes; I guess “Sal” is the true author of this particular blog. Everything we said and did as “Sal” was for shock value and to move us toward our goal of the evening, having faceless sex with strangers. You might have read about some of our adventures in my previous blog, “SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel .”

 

Chet Thomas/Tommy/Sal in his Valley of the Bi-Dolls cameo

Chet Thomas/Tommy/Sal in his Valley of the Bi-Dolls cameo

 

The very first time I went to Palm Springs was to shoot the movie Head of the Class 2 that Scott Masters was producing and directing. We shot at a beautiful home in Rancho Mirage with models Adam Grant, Les Stine, Beau Beaumont, Brian Hart, Chris Ladd and others. While shooting the movie, the cast and crew stayed not too far away on Warm Sands Drive in a clothing optional resort called The Vista Grande. Scott Masters always cracked the whip, and to make sure there was no funny business with the models “off camera,” they stayed in the owner's two-bedroom suite with him, basically holding them captive. The crew, on the other hand, was free to roam the property at night, spending time in the 16-man jacuzzi filled with horny resort guests and locals who either had a key or figured out a way to get into the private resort. It was a playground for sure, even featuring a glory hole right next to the Coca-Cola and ice machines. Quench your thirst?! Peter and Larry were the owners and they developed a friendship with Scott Masters, which would allow us to start shooting on their resort property for future movies. Catalina ended up shooting at the Vista Grande for years to come.

 

Head of the Class 2 box cover and The Vista Grande Resort

Head of the Class 2 box cover and The Vista Grande Resort

 

Our next trip to the desert was for the movie Palm Springs 92264 and Chet Thomas was along as director with me as his cameraman. Scott Masters stayed home in L.A., but you can bet your ass he called to check up on us at the most inopportune times. I filled Tommy/Chet/Sal in on the goings on at the resort from my first stay there and we were determined to conquer the place while off the clock from shooting the movie. Across the street from the resort was their sister property called The Atrium, which had only five two-bedroom units. Tommy and I stayed there, as did the models and crew, because it was a bit quieter than The Vista Grande. After the shoots, we would go out with the models and crew to dinner at the Red Pepper, a gay-owned Mexican restaurant, and then we all hit CC Construction Company, the local gay disco. The models, for the most part, were on the honor system and, I think because we treated them like friends instead of “hired talent,” they kept their dicks in their pants in anticipation of filming the next morning. Once their scenes were complete, we let them play as much as they wanted around the resort or go on their escort gigs that they or their agent booked for them while in the desert. Tommy and I were very happy about how smoothly things went and were so grateful not to have our producer Scott Masters breathing down our necks.

After the movie wrapped, the cast flew home and the crew drove back to L.A. The owners of The Vista Grande invited Tommy and myself to stay the weekend. They were sold out with some sort of event and the place was filled with German guys. Scheibe! This was a clothing optional resort and let me tell you, there were some big-ass German Sausages swinging about all around the pool. It made it very easy for “Sal” & “Sal” to decide on who to pursue and who not to pursue. Neither Sal was famous for playing nice and when we both wanted the same “piece,” uhh hmm, I mean “guy,” we would battle it out. May the most creative seducer win!

Bob and Larry showed us to the “Maid’s Quarters,” the best kept secret at The Vista Grande. It was a tiny 12’ x 12’ room, with a shower stall and just barely enough space to fit a bed, TV and night stand. It was free and gave us a place to crash, so who were we to complain? Neither one of us was going to get much sleep anyway and if we did, it would probably be in room 10, 15 or 23. In true “Sal” fashion, there was trickery to be had. Like when I was in the shower, Tommy/Sal got dressed and ran out the door to get a head start on the guy we both wanted to catch. That little bitch! If I remember correctly, Sal threw himself at him and scored his first point. That pissed me off a bit, but I don’t throw myself at guys - oh wait a minute, I’m Sal right now so that’s exactly what I do.

 

Palm Springs 92264 box cover; maid's quarters; hot German guys

Palm Springs 92264 box cover; maid's quarters; hot German guys

 

The Sal domination of Warm Sands Drive didn’t just stay contained inside the walls of the resort. Outside on Warm Sands Drive was the most infamous cruise spot in all of Palm Springs. The streets don’t have street lights in the desert and there were shadowy figures in abundance. In cars, on walls, behind bushes. It’s impossible to see if they are cute, ugly, young or geriatric, and you can bet I ran into Sal a few times in different hiding spots with his mouth full. That was his thing - sorry babe, luv ya! Miss ya! But what do you expect, Sal, you did steal my hung German tourist, you twat! Sal and I made many return trips to the Vista Grande. We could call them any given Friday afternoon and if the “Maid’s Quarters” was empty, the owners would give it to us for the weekend for, get this, $25 per night! They treated us so well and, like I said, we would return year after year with the crew to film dozens of movies.

You know, I’m kind of embracing my alter-ego “Sal” as a writer. I think I’ll have him do a guest blog every now and then moving forward.

Bio of Josh Eliot:

At the age of 25 in 1987, Josh Eliot was hired by Catalina Video by John Travis (Brentwood Video) and Scott Masters (Nova Video). Travis trained Eliot on his style of videography and mentored him on the art of directing. Josh directed his first movie, Runaways, in 1987. By 2009 when Josh parted ways with Catalina Video, he'd produced and directed hundreds of features and won numerous awards for Best Screenplay, Videography, Editing, and Directing. He was entered into the GayVN Hall of fame in 2002. 

 

You can read Josh Eliot's previous blogs for Bijou here:

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Castro Theatre
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Midnight Sun
RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship
VOYAGER of the Damned
I'M NOT A LESBIAN DIRECTOR
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: THE FOLSOM STREET FAIR
Diving into SoMa/Folsom: A TALE OF TWO STUDS
BALL BROTH
My 1992 “Porn Set” Diary
Out of Print

 
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Mad Scenes

By Madam Bubby

 

Usually a “mad scene” specifically refers to a particular scene from an opera written by bel canto composers of the early 19th century, such as Donizetti and Bellini. A soprano, usually suffering from a romantic love crisis, goes insane, and expresses her insanity, paradoxically, in difficult, complicated coloratura passages that require great vocal control.

The most famous occurs in the opera Lucia di Lammermoor. Lucia, in love with the family enemy Edgardo, is forced to marry someone her brother chooses, Arturo. Lucia kills Arturo on her wedding night. I grew up hearing the gay icon Maria Callas singing this scene on record, and I was mesmerized that she was able to invest the scene with such drama and a dark, complex timbre. Here was no Snow White singing tra la la to the birds. But, interestingly enough, the opera does not end with the mad scene. Lucia dies offstage, and her lover, Edgardo, kills himself. He actually gets a kind of tenor mad scene. But it’s generally the ladies who go mad, which reflects quite blatantly the misogynistic Victorian view that women, the "weaker sex," were more prone to mental disturbance: potential hysterics.

 

Callas as Lucia

Callas as Lucia

 

The mad scene by the middle of the last century started moving to the end of movies, crystallizing to some extent in the grand dame guignol movies of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The end of Sunset Boulevard, the famous “I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille,” scene of Norma Desmond, deconstructs the mad scenes of operas, because she thinks she is playing the necrophiliac Salome. One even hears a bit of music from the Strauss opera as she descends the staircase (that prop usually occurs in Lucia mad scenes). In fact, by the time Strauss wrote his opera Salome, one could even say the female protagonists of many operas written by that time were mad for the entire opera (or most of the time).

 

Noma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard

Norma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard

 

Thus, Baby Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? dancing on the beach with ice cream cones and others of her ilk come out of a rich tradition. The director Robert Aldrich really seemed to build his grande dame guignol films toward a final mad scene for the female protagonist, though in his underrated Autumn Leaves shows a male, played by Cliff Robertson, going mad, and he gets several scenes, but the most terrifying one occurs at about midpoint.

But it is also a scene of horrifying domestic violence (he throws a typewriter at his wife, played by Joan Crawford, after slapping her around). Like Edgardo in Lucia, he accuses her of treachery, but she is innocent. In reality, his father slept with his now former wife (she a willing accomplice), and discovering them together precipitated his descent into what, based on the movie, is paranoid schizophrenia.

 

Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson in Autumn Leaves

Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson in Autumn Leaves

 

Aldrich created another mad scene in The Killing of Sister George, a groundbreaking LGBTQ movie on so many levels, not only for its filming a scene in an actual lesbian bar, but, for the fact that the protagonist, June Buckridge played by Beryl Reid (known as George because of the character she plays in a soap opera, Sister George, a jovial country nurse in an English village) is out and proud as a lesbian. Many critics today tend to place this move in the “self-hating” LGBTQ subgrenre. Yes, George is certainly not the most stable person. She yells a lot, drinks a lot, and certainly, which one could argue isn’t really a character flaw in some of the situations she encounters, shows no compunction about telling some persons off in not the most dainty language.

Her relationship with Alice does not strike one as being the healthiest by today’s standards. I remember watching the scene where George, always jealous, punishes Alice for a supposed flirting (with a man) by making her kneel before her and eat her cigar. For the mid 1960s, this scene was risqué, and I perceived that perhaps there was some element of BDSM play involved, but it also seems to be moving into the realm of emotional abuse. And it’s not Alice as the victim of the “bull dyke” George. Alice is blatantly egging her on, and by pretending to enjoy eating the cigar; yes, she does take back control of the dynamic, knowing she is hurting George by, as George both yells and cries, “ruining” it.

Thus, one can see the characters aren’t camp caricatures. The character George plays gets killed off in the series (hence the title), and the fate of her career and relationship gets wound up in the machinations of the cliched reptilian predatory lesbian, played by Coral Browne.

Spoiler alert: she loses her job and her lover; the Coral Browne character in a scene of underhanded viciousness at George’s farewell party at the television studio suggests she get a job playing the voice of a cow in an animated puppets series for children. A gut-wrenching scene occurs when Alice leaves her. Reid masterfully plays it as both horribly hurt and horribly angry together, the emotion much like that of another spurned operatic character, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana (from the time of whole “mad operas”). Shortly thereafter, George enters the empty studio, smashes the camera equipment, and beings mooing like a cow. She is wordless. No romantic words, no ecstatic high notes like Lucia sings, no cameras for a Norma Desmond close-up.

 

Beryl Reid as George in The Killing of Sister George

Beryl Reid as George in The Killing of Sister George

 

But, is she really mad? Does she really enter another reality like Lucia and Norma Desmond and Baby Jane? She’s not fantasizing about a marriage that never took place, and she’s not retreating into memories of a forever lost stardom. It seems she’s justifiably enraged, but also, given her indomitable character, understanding that she will do that job. She knows she has lost. She knows it’s degrading.

And like many LGBTQ persons, she knows who she is, and because she knows, she can choose, or at least to try and choose, what happens in her life. What’s sad is that she feels like she can only choose her losses. I just wonder if she’s really at the same level of victimization and its sister, in those cases, madness as the Romantic heroines of opera or the characters like Baby Jane who are both torturer and victim in grande dame guignol cinema.

Similarly, the complex dynamic where the madness, or appearance of madness, exists perhaps to crystallize at the highest level of tension the torturer/victim binary appears in a classic gay porn movie, Drive, directed by Jack Deveau (which Bijou carries on DVD and Streaming). The mad lead character/anti-hero Arachne plots to kidnap a scientist and eliminate everyone’s sex drive.

 

Christopher Rage as Arachne in Drive

Christopher Rage as Arachne in Hand in Hand Films' Drive (1974)

 

Arachne (played by legendary director Christopher Rage, here billed as Mary Jim Sstunning, in a script written by Rage) certainly camps it up as she attempts to set her diabolical plot in motion. But the movie unveils at the end how the one who desires to castrate is actually ferociously repressing her own sexuality. She is last seen in a dungeon with the men she had imprisoned. Secret agent Clark liberates the prisoners, and Arachne is left alone. But this whole mad porn opera contains a moment of somber lucidity. Arachne holds a glass bottle with a severed penis. She knows she is forever trapped in a cycle of endless desire like a spider in a web, consuming its mates but never satiated:

I hunted at night until it wasn’t enough to hunt only at night, and then I hunted during the day too. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. My thoughts were only of hard bodies, rigid with the desire for me — beautiful men swollen with the need for me. They were all around me and I chose the ones who looked most eager.

“Until I saw a man who was so perfect, with a hunger in his eyes that reflected my own hunger — and I knew he was the one. I knew we could feed from each other, claw at each other with a need we didn’t care to understand.

“Drugged with desire for each other’s hot naked skin, tense muscles pushing — and then filling me with his need, white and hot. Crushing me with his strong arms, pressing down on me and into me, until I closed my eyes with the ecstasy and perfection of him, and I screamed for him — and I screamed for me. 

“And I opened my eyes and I was alone.

“And I vowed then that I would bring an end to it all. Man would have to search no more: Arachne would be the answer.”


She knows. She knows who she is, ultimately more frightening than the mad scene at the end, which usually ends in the liberation of death.

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Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: THE FOLSOM STREET FAIR

By Josh Eliot

 

The Folsom Street South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco was the gritty contrast to the famed Castro District, especially in the 1970’s and 1980’s. When the Castro had its annual Street Fair, the crowd was eclectic, including men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Dancing, and sometimes flashing, drag queens, street performers, snake charmers, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and country & western groups who would suddenly break into a square dance in the middle of the street, forcing the crowd to separate. There were Dunk-A-Hunk booths, face and body painting, numerous food tents and the Gay Men’s Chorus staking claim to the plaza in front of Hibernia Bank to belt out some show tunes.

 

Castro Street Fair, 1980s

Castro Street Fair, 1980s

 

You would see large groups of partygoers hanging out the windows of their flats and overcrowding the fire escapes and overhangs on the apartment buildings above Star Pharmacy, Valley Pride Market and Market Liquors. The bars, of course, were packed to the brim with large crowds surrounding the doors. The Main Stage was on Market Street and the corner of Castro and featured performances by artists like Sylvester, comedians like Ellen DeGeneres and Danny Williams as well as local and somewhat well-known bands. The whole event was just slightly over the top and refreshingly not overly political.

The Folsom Street Fair, by contrast, was a full-on South of Market “sexperience.” Some would call it sleazy, others would say it was the ultimate middle finger to society. It was a bit of both. If you’ve read Will Seagers' last two blogs, Diving Into SoMA/Folsom: Hamburger Mary's and Long Live the Stud!, you’ve already got a first hand account of some hot spots in the neighborhood. Spanning the blocks on Folsom from 8th to 13th streets and splintering off between Howard and Harrison streets, there was quite a large area for bad behavior to take place. To say that Folsom street really brought the grit is a major under-statement. I think the first rule of thumb we learned was don’t even think about showing up without putting on a cock ring, because you would definitely not be in the majority. You would always expect to see bare asses in chaps, tits galore, random whipping displays, hoods, ball gags, leather jockstraps, and chains, but a street fair wouldn’t go by without some shocking outfit or action that you never saw coming!

 

Folsom Street Fair

Folsom Street Fair

 

Whereas the Castro fairgoers would separate to let the square dancers dance, the Folsom fairgoers would crowd in and form an impenetrable circle to shield the circle jerk or blow job that spontaneously started happening in the middle of the road, keeping out anyone who was looking to stop it. I don’t know if all that happens these days but it was very commonplace in the 1980s. I remember going into one bar and seeing someone squatting on top of a cigarette machine while getting rimmed. Dore Alley sat smack dab in the middle of the street fair map and surprisingly it looked much different in the light. Dore Alley and close by Ringold Alley were notorious “last chance” cruise spots for bar patrons once they closed at 2am.

In 2014, Mike Skiff’s (videographer and director for Catalina Video under Mark Jensen) documentary Folsom Forever was released by Breaking Glass Pictures. I was so proud to see what he had accomplished after we all parted ways when Catalina Video was sold to Channel 1 Releasing in 2007. I recently viewed the movie on TUBI, the free streaming service, which documented the behind the scenes actions and adventures of the fair organizers and volunteers. The Folsom Street Fair organizers' self-proclaimed mission statement reads, in part, as follows:

“Folsom Street is committed to cultivating a safe, open and inclusive environment for kink, leather and alternative sexuality. We are dedicated to sexual liberation and the right to pleasure as a crucial part of the whole liberation movement. Folsom Street is an explicitly anti-racist organization and we are committed to decolonizing our practices.”

 

Folsom Forever poster and director, Mike Skiff

Folsom Forever poster and director, Mike Skiff

 

No Folsom Street Fair would be complete without the appearance and contributions of Mr. Markus. Marcus Hernandez, a longtime leather columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, was always front and center throughout the fair and on the Main Stage. Mr. Markus, through his column and international ventures, influenced the leather/BDSM subculture, its ethics, traditions and fundraising efforts. His smart and sarcastic column shone a light on the culture that had long been demonized and suppressed by mainstream gay and straight cultures, generating respect by showing that the leather community was among the most dedicated to their tribe. Even though he passed away in October of 2009 at the age of 77, his voice and message of pride for the LGBT and his beloved leather community reached far beyond San Francisco to like communities internationally. I remember seeing him several times at the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago when we shot it to release on DVD. It had been so many years since I heard his distinctive voice across the loud speaker and it brought me right back to those dirty, nasty, fabulous days that my roomies and I let our inhibitions fly at the Folsom Street Fair.

 

Mr. Markus and the Main Stage at Folsom

Mr. Markus and the Main Stage at Folsom

 

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

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RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship

By Josh Eliot

 

Working on the Catalina Video crew for 22 years from age 25 to age 47 was probably what some would think is the epitome of a dream job. To an extent the first 15 or so years were just that, but towards the end of my days with the company I was exhausted, burned out, idea-less and for the most part just ready to retire. For the majority of the years, especially once Scott Masters and John Travis left to start their own company Studio 2000, I became producer and was expected to “pump-out” two movies or more a month. All of the movies had a maximum of $13,500.00 budget except for our big budget “movie of the year,” which was allowed $25,000.00. The big budget movies had the luxury of having twice the amount of shooting days, so on day one we shot the oral and cum shots then on day two the anal and cum shots. Having each model cum twice in a scene really added some polish and made them appear more “stud-like.” Because the crew's salaries themselves were not part of the budget, we were able to stretch the dollar pretty far to add all the bells and whistles of a major production. All of the Catalina Crew were paid separately according to how many shoot days they worked per week.

Even though my youth helped me get through this vigorous schedule, it did take its toll over the years. Not much of a dream job, right? Well, from time to time the management did surprise and delight us with out of the ordinary adventures. William Higgins' main man in the states, while he lived in Prague, was David Weiss. David ran a distribution center called House One, which was literally in a special wing of his Burbank home. I would say David was the “boss” of Catalina’s general manager and facilitated all of Higgins' wishes. For some reason David really took a liking to me and had my best interests in mind. He was always offering to take me to Prague with him whenever he was going over to see Higgins but it never worked out for me to go because of that damned two movies a month schedule! He did however show up one day to tell me he had met with the owners of RSVP Cruises and arranged for Richard (an editor for House One) and myself to work a two week stint on an upcoming Mexican gay cruise leaving from San Diego in a couple of weeks. I was blown away, especially because our GM agreed to postpone production to allow me to go!

 

Richard, Josh & two RSVP Cruise employees

Richard, Josh & two RSVP Cruise employees

 

Richard and I arrived at the port mid-afternoon, as the ship would depart at 5pm sharp for Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas. We went aboard immediately as part of the RSVP staff. The first person we met was Danny Williams, a San Francisco comedian, who I remember seeing at the Castro Street Fair every year. In 1989, Danny began what was to become a 22 year career working as master of ceremonies and cruise director for RSVP Cruises. He introduced us to all the other staff, who were a wonderful group to work with. Richard and I went up to his editing suite, which was also the green room for the performers of the nighttime shows. Once there, I inspected my video camera equipment for my job on board. I was to shoot every event, cocktail-underwear party and land excursion, always bringing the footage back to Richard each night so he could edit it into a VHS tape each passenger would get as they disembarked the ship at the conclusion of the trip. I checked out my quarters and it was a private room! That’s like striking gold, because I was very single at the time! I think I had sex almost every day - I guess our ship uniforms helped with that!

 

Tea dance, underwear parties & nightly entertainment
Tea dance, underwear parties & nightly entertainment

Danny Williams, comedian

Danny Williams, comedian

 

I started shooting footage of all the passengers as they came aboard the ship on the main deck. I noticed two familiar faces amongst the crowd: Bob and Larry, the owners of The Vista Grande and Atrium in Palm Springs. We shot at their men-only clothing optional resort a lot over the years for movies like Big Guns 2 and Palm Springs Weekend. I just loved those guys and we were all thrilled to see each other. The warmth and excitement of seeing them suddenly dropped to “icy-cold” when a strange woman with a long wrap over her head approached me. I said hello and tried to start a pleasant conversation when she cut me off and asked if my camera was turned on. I started to explain what I was shooting but, without missing a beat, she stepped right up to my face, pulled her wrap from her head and said: “If you point that thing at me, it’s going over the side of the ship,” then she promptly walked off before I could even respond.

It turns out the woman was singer Jane Olivor and her reputation (that I later learned of) did not disappoint. Evidently when she walked into Richard’s editing room, also her green room, she demanded that everyone leave immediately. How very Gloria Swanson. Jane Olivor has a huge almost cult-like gay following and I have to say when I shot her performance I found her voice to be amazing! I even bought tickets, years later, to see her one summer in Provincetown. Betty Buckley was also aboard, and I’ll tell you she was fabulous and even let us watch her rehearsal! The work of shooting the passengers was pretty “full-on” because the cameras back then weighed a ton and required a separate video deck on a strap over my shoulder. I remember literally almost passing out from heat exhaustion, when I discovered a sanctuary in Puerto Vallarta called “The Blue Chairs.” The Blue Chairs is a beachfront gay resort with a bar along the beach offering 2 for 1 margaritas and, after 3pm, 3 for 1 margaritas. The place was packed with almost everyone I knew from the cruise ship. I plopped myself down and spent the afternoon there, every once in a while picking up the camera to shoot the passengers at play!

 

Cabo San Lucas beach party and The Blue Chairs in Puerto Vallarta

Cabo San Lucas beach party and The Blue Chairs in Puerto Vallarta

 

After seven days in Mexico and at sea, we returned to the San Diego Port. The passengers disembarked, then a few hours later a whole new set of guests boarded and we took off to do it all over again! Now this was the “real deal” dream job, with a whole new selection of hot guys coming aboard! Years later I was sent by Catalina Video along with my crew to board another cruise ship for an event called the Pillage & Plunder Gay Cruise - this time not to videotape the passengers, even though it was impossible to keep them out of my frame, but to film our big budget movie of the year, Voyager. Caesar and Steve Rambo were the leads, along with about nineteen others. In my next blog I will talk about how what started off as another dream cruise ended up being more like a nightmare!

 

Caesar in Voyager

Caesar in Voyager

 

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

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