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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David's Sexual Underground - 5/22/23

 

health - BijouBlog

David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

 

Greetings All,

 

It has been a rough week for me, which has put us behind schedule this week. I have been assisting a dear friend and mighty force in our greater LGBTQ+ community these past few months. When I came to Chicago in 1976, one of the first friends I made was Marge Summit, then owner of His N Hers, a popular community bar located under the L tracks on Addison.

 

Marge Summit in westernwear at His N Hers

 

Marge created a wonderful space that brought many facets of our community together to celebrate. Marge’s staff served us great drinks, prepared fabulous food including the best burger I ever enjoyed in Chicago. And Marge made a space for lots of local talent to perform, grow and succeed.

She became a dear friend and mentor to me in the service industry. Those of you who joined me for Chicago’s Original Country Dance after closing Carol’s Speakeasy should remember Marge helping us serve drinks at various spots along the way Pusch Studios, Paris Dance, Whiskey River, Bedrock to name a few.

 

Marge at the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame

 

As an icon of our community, Marge was there when AIDS first struck Chicago. Her support for many of the early organizations that came to be in response to this emergency was fantastic. Howard Brown, Chicago House, Open Hand and numerous others were causes championed at His N Hers in the 80s with the support of the talented artist that performed at the bar.

Marge did more than just host benefits; she took action when needed. One of my favorite things she did was to push peoples’ comfort zones.

 

Frank Kellas and Marge Summit in newspaper photo, cited as being named as Organizers of the Year from Gay Chicago for their commitment to the Gay Dollar Campaign

 

To stress the economic force of our community, Marge and her leather buddy Frank Kellas launched the Gay Dollar campaign. She bought rubber stamps that read Gay Dollar and stamped thousands of one dollar bills. In the 80s, that got the attention of the Feds. They visited her and threatened her if she persisted. She did persist and straight folks were forced to be embarrassed by handing over “gay money” when shopping, dining, etc.

You may not remember there was a small grocery store at the corner of Belmont & Broadway. The owners were unhappy as the neighborhood became “New Town” with gays moving into the area. Bars, stores catering to gays sprang up. With the fear of AIDS, the owners were afraid of contact with us. Marge would get friends to join her to each grab a grocery cart and fill it with all kinds of items, the smaller the better. Filling the carts, they would leave them at the checkout announcing they were gay. The fearful owners and staff would be forced to wipe off all the handled merchandise, fearing contamination of AIDS. Sound familiar?

Marge met the love of her life, Janan, in her later years and I was honored to host their wedding at my Country Dance at The Call. Sadly, we had to celebrate Janan’s passing there too. The past few months were hard for Marge, failing health and loneliness made it a vicious circle. I was fortunate to spend time with her, sharing memories, meals, helping her cope as she became weaker.

 

Marge and Janan

 

I got to sit with her one last time on Tuesday in her finally hours as she passed from this world knowing she would be reunited with her wife, Janan.

Marge was not part of our leather community, but she understood our side of the family. She was a great friend of Chuck Rodocker, Chuck Renslow and Jim Flint, all leather bar owners in the 70s and 80s. She stood with us as AIDs decimated the clubs and took the lives of so many leathermen.

This loss is not felt just by me but many others of our leather community of that era.

Thanks for allowing me to share this passing with you.

 

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A Little Secret

By Will Seagers

 

Hi Folks - Will here again for another installment of my life with all of its ups and downs. As for the title of this episode, I had a bit of a secret when I first started in the porn biz. Funny thing - to me - this little secret was glaringly "in your face!" And, no one brought attention to it - except me.

Here's how it goes. You see, I was born with not one but two inguinal hernias. One exhibited itself early in my child hood. It has the appearance of oversized balls - testicles if you will. I went through some pretty excruciating treatments from the age of five to seven. These were constant catheterizations to remove fluid build ups. That might have "single-handedly" contributed my dislike of unusual instruments/appendages in the context of sex. Like I mentioned in my last blog, my dislike of wilder sex practices is strictly my own - I do not throw shade on whatever might turn someone else on.

OK. At the age of seven and my pediatrician tells my parents there are no more stop gap procedures - I need a hernia repair. I was pleased to receive excellent care at the hospital where half of my siblings were born in Glen Ridge, N.J. Things were different back in 1958! I remained in the hospital for a week or so... not rushed out the next day! Not only was the length of stay different in that era but so was the surgical technique. The incision used in the repair was pretty radical. I still refer to it as my "Frankenstein Scar." I am glad that I had it at that young age. It was barely visible by the the time I was ready for "Mr. DeMille" and all of the other cameramen!

The second of these inguinal situations started to act up at the end of my teens. What I did to counteract the protrusion was to simply push myself back together. In this situation, the inguinal canal is partially open, allowing the intestine to come down and make things look "bigger." Sure, the boys all liked my super balls - but, I sure as hell didn't!

What was most amazing (to me) and that I mentioned earlier, is that no one ever mentioned or brought attention to my situation. On several sets, I would take fairly frequent pee breaks so I could go and "adjust things" before a big sex scene. I was lucky in the fact that "my boys" would stay in place seemingly just long enough for the sex scene. This was true with a rather popular movie I shot with the Legendary Bruno on Fire Island in the summer of 1976. He never let on that there was anything wrong. That was a good thing... I certainly didn't want to fuck up that opportunity! However, there were a few print layouts where "my boys" did not cooperate! Still - no bad press or complaints. I wondered if this might have been appealing to a wilder side of my audience! Anyway, I had Lemons and I was happily making Lemonade! LOL

 

Will Seagers and Bruno

Will Seagers with Bruno in Bullet Videopac 6

 

By 1977, the situation needed some attention. By this time I was living in San Francisco and totally entrenched in the porn biz. The "adjustments" that I was able to make in the past no longer worked. Luckily, I found a delightful gay doctor (and someone that was familiar with my "work") who stepped in and ordered a second hernia repair. This was performed in the fall of 1977 at Ralph K. Davies Hospital on upper Castro Street just up the hill from from the "Crossroads of the Gay World." On my first visit I showed my doctor my "Frankenstein Scar" from the first repair. He let me know that much progress had been made over the years and that he would leave only what he called a "bathing suit scar." When all was said, done (and healed) there was just a small incision below the Speedo line! BTW, I had the most infamous post-op "party" in my hospital room. My partner Tom and all of my friends and fuck-buddies showed up including the owner of Dreamland, Michael, who I have mentioned in prior blogs. For the occasion, I had Tom snap plenty of pics of the festivities which I put in a scrapbook called "Two's Better than Three!" This title was a play on words. Prior to my operation it looked like I had three "boys" rather than two! Of course, me being on the vanilla side of things, I only wanted the normal two!

So, it was two months or so before I was back to working out and playing to the lens again. It was a helluva lot easier not being distracted with the worry of "showing or not showing!" I went on for nearly another decade without that worry. Truth be told, I think the quality of my "performances" improved... I sure seemed to please Richard Locke!

 

Will Seagers and Richard Locke

Will Seagers with Richard Locke in L.A. Tool & Die and Cruisin' the Castro

 

 

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!"

 

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Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s

By Will Seagers

 

As I have pointed out in prior blogs, gay life was really unbelievable in the 1970s. This was particularly so in the cities of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and many others.

Bath houses and bars with their notorious "back rooms" were all the rage across the country. A sexual society had developed over that decade. I know for myself as a steward for a major airline, any "port of call" would have a Club Baths there and that would be pretty much a guaranteed good time. That chain was spread out all across the country... much to my pleasure. I will never forget an escapade I had in Miami. Towel-clad as usual, I was wandering the mostly outdoor and tropical grounds when I heard a voice softly call out my name. I turned around to find a childhood bestie that I had not seen in decades. He and his mother had moved from N.J. where we met and were pre-teen play pals. I had always had my suspicions about this "buddy" even though nothing had ever happened back then or that night.

 

Men in a bath house from Drive (1974)

Men in a bath house from Drive (1974)

 

Fast forward to the later part of the 70s when I moved to San Francisco. Besides the legendary baths like The Barracks, The Brothel and many many more, the Club Baths of S.F. was just two blocks from my South of Market apartment! My partner and I had a very open sexual relationship. We both loved to go "down the block" as we called it! For most of our years together we both had night time jobs. Most of the people that worked the bars and clubs that closed at 2AM would head down to 8th and Howard (the location for Club Baths S.F.) to "unwind" after work. There was sort of a social scene that had developed over the years. The big event, however, was on Tuesday nights when they had very discounted rates. There were literally lines around the block to get in. Once you got in, you quickly realized it was worth the wait! It was like being on a porn set. Being familiar with that... it sure felt like home to me! Lol.

Similarly, NYC had its bath house smorgasbord, too! Two of my favorite were the St. Mark's and the Continental Baths. The St. Mark's was one of the older facilities in town and well attended in the hours after the bars and clubs around town had shut for the night.

 

St. Mark's Baths interior St. Mark's Baths interior

Continental interior sign and men dancing from Jack (1973)

Continental interior sign and men dancing from Jack (1973)

 

For me, I would sometimes make a whole night of it there and skip the clubs and bars! Oink!

 

Cartoon pig

 

All of this came to an abrupt end. A scourge had hit the gay communities around the country. It was both frightening and sad to be losing friends and family to a disease that no one understood at the time. Almost immediately, openly sexual venues were forced to close. It sent a shockwave through the community. Being undaunted, a lot of the community went to "monitored" sex clubs. While visiting a friend in NYC, we went to one of these venues. I was surprised at how packed it was... given that people remained mostly clothed. There were actual monitors that wandered through the crowd admonishing and extracting individuals that went beyond the basic (hand-job) tolerated behaviors. "Lips above the Hips" was the chant that could be heard from these monitors as they walked the floor. For some people this might have worked. But, for me it was like the fast-food version of sex! It left me hungry.

It was at this time I noticed that porn was really taking off again. The industry literally exploded. After all, what could be safer than being a voyeur in the comfort of your own home? And, that was true again when COVID reared its ugly head just recently. Not only condoms but masks were featured in porn - ostensibly to set a good example. The almighty sexual drive of my fellow man was not to be daunted!

So, at nearly 72, I have seen the "Lavender Wave" rise from seemingly nowhere during the years of the sexual revolution. I have participated in it myself with great memories of the freedom I felt. The great cosmic pendulum swung back. I am now seeing the adjustments. But, Men being Men - there will always be a feast ahead.

 

 

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

 

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David's Chicago Sexual Underground 09/21/22 & P(r)ick of the Week

health - BijouBlog
David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

Greetings P(r)icksters!

Been busy hosting a vaccine party every week at the bar on top of all our other parties. I keep getting thanked by guys passing through the vax line and felt I just had to explain why. So here's what I sent out to my Touché posting this week. I may have covered some this in a previous blog, but it is all part of my "
why."

We are continuing our drive to get folks vaccinated against monkeypox. We want all of you to be able to socialize, meet up and find a fuck buddy, enjoy some hot passionate sex and not end up with a case of this virus. Trust me, I have heard from many who contracted the virus, and the symptoms were PAINFUL.

You like a dick down your throat, up your butt, and guess what? That's where this virus ends up. Sure, they have presented photos on the news about sores on guys' hands, chests, feet or faces. Well, what they haven't shown you are the guys with pox sores inside their dicks, up their asses or down their throats. If we hadn't started pushing guys in our community to get vaxxed, a lot more of you could have experienced this. So, we urge you to keep it in your pants and changed up our video programming and party events at the bar to help you keep yourself in check.

AIDS came to town unannounced and spread quickly and decimated our leather community. We didn't know it was here, what caused it and had no vaccine to stop it.

Today, we know monkeypox is here, how it can spread, and we have a weapon to stop it: a 2-dose vaccine shot. I wish we had this when AIDS hit; I would have a lot more friends still with me. We can stop this now from becoming an ongoing threat, but you all have to get vaxxed to make that happen.

Here's a link to the Chicago Department of Public Health's dashboard for monkeypox. It is updated on Mondays and shows the number of cases falling dramatically. It also shows the number of people vaccinated so far. It is the second dose that I focus on, because it is the second dose that allows your body to develop immunity after a couple of weeks.

9,375 is the number of Chicagoans that have received a second dose as of Monday. 9,000+ folks are fully vaxxed. Out of how many gay men that live in this city? Just think for a moment - how many gay men are there just in Chicago? All of a sudden, 9,375 seems like a good start but way short of what may be needed to keep us from a resurgence of cases.

Let's not forget the guys coming to Chicago because they live in states that haven't done jackshit about monkeypox. I checked IDs last week during our Vax Party and I can state that about 1/2 of those in the bar that came for a shot were from out of town. Florida, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Texas were just some of the IDs I saw.

If these guys feel it is so important to travel this far for a shot (hopefully they had a couple more at the bar), then I would hold that all of you that live here in Chicago would feel just as strongly and make the effort to cross town if need be and get vaccinated.

We had a Pox Vax Party last night, Tuesday, September 20th, and the upcoming one is next week on Wednesday, September 28th. As we have been doing, doors open at 5pm with shots beginning at 6 pm. We start with 100 doses but have been averaging 120 or more these past few weeks. The vax teams leave with doses unused. So don't let the early days of long lines and limited vax shots deter you. You need not line up for hours, just get here by 9pm and get a shot.

We will be adding Vax Party dates in October. Our partners at Project WISH and Rush are lining up teams to provide the shots, and once I have those dates confirmed, we will post them.

Now as to WHY?

We have been thanked repeatedly the past couple of months for hosting these Vax Parties. As guys pass through the line, they let me know how much they appreciate our effort to care for our community. There's a very simple reason why we are doing this.

We are LEATHER.

Time for a little history lesson, sorry if this gets long. I came to Chicago in the mid-70s and began working at Touché shortly after it opened. Some of my early leather mentors were already in their 60s. Which meant they had participated in WWII, and they shared their experiences with me.

Before the World Wars of the last century, travel abroad was the luxury of the wealthy. The average guy lived in his town, worked there and most likely died in that same town. The thought of going to Europe or anywhere else in the world was an unlikely dream of some, but most others just lived their life where they were. You could have urges for men, but you either had to ignore them or on the "down-low."

Heading to Europe and other places to fight in either war allowed these servicemen a chance to broaden their view beyond our American shores. In particular, during WWII, these men experienced a lot more than what their hometowns had to offer. Food, for one, drink another and lifestyles even more. Far from home and expectations they may had lived under (get a job, get married, have a family), many got a chance to explore their sexual feelings.

One of my favorite photo books is At Ease: Navy Men of WWII. These guys were out at sea for months at a time. It is not hard to imagine that physical contact between them would become common. Not just sexual; lots of the photos show guys relaxing, just laying side by side, or in some contact with each other. As humans, we feel the need to touch others.

Naturally this lead some to sexual relations with other men; after all, these guys were in their early to mid-twenties and just as horny as you guys are today. It was just there, unmentioned and tolerated as a phase. But they got over it once they returned home to their girls or wives (supposedly).

One other thing men fighting abroad may have learned was riding motorcycles. It was quick method of communications within the services. A lot of servicemen would probably never have learned to ride if it wasn't for their time in the service.

So, when guys came home from WWII, some had experienced gay sex or at least developed an affinity to being with guys. The late 40s and 50s were not a time of accepting homosexuality. These guys had to live in their closets.

Which is where our leather community sprang from: those guys that had learned to ride while in the service and continued to ride when they got back. They met other guys that served and shared experiences. So, they would ride together, forming clubs with guys they could relate to, who shared their experiences. And sometimes, far from others, they would engage in man-on-man sex.

When I come to Chicago, we had a few gay bikers’ clubs. Others like myself that did not ride were drawn to the camaraderie, the friendship, the "family" of these clubs. Other leather clubs formed for those that did not ride but felt the kinship of leather.

You didn't just drop in, you had to be invited in. It was not that hard. These clubs hung out in bars like the old Gold Coast, The Redoubt, Snake Pit and eventually Touché. The back bar at Touché is called The Club Room and the walls are covered with the colors of the various clubs that have called Touché home or out of town clubs that we have supported over the years.

You could meet these leathermen and get to know them. If they felt you were their kind of guy, they would invite you to join them and once they felt you earned the right, they would present you with patches of their colors to wear on your leather.

As a member of one of these clubs, the other members were your brothers, your family. You take care of your family. If they needed a roof over their head, they bunked with you. If they were sick, you cared for them. Helped them find a job if needed. A lot of times it meant caring for those of other clubs, too. Being part of this community meant you would step up and take care of each other.

This is Touché’s 45th year. My 45th year as being part of Chicago’s leather community. And neither Touché nor I can stand by and do nothing when we have this threat to our community. Leather stepped up when AIDS hit in the 80s. Unfortunately, we lost a huge part of our leather community at that time. A lot of those club colors represent a whole group of 30-40 guys that were wiped out by AIDS. None of them are still with us, but we will never forget them.

Those of us that made it through AIDS were a part of the efforts to respond to AIDS. Just feeding folks brought us Open Hand. They made meals every day and delivered them to guys at home. Many early volunteers were leathermen and they still volunteer today through Open Hand's GroceryLand Pantry.

Being too sick to work and keep a roof over your head led to Chicago House. We raised money and bought a house, again led by a leatherman Thom Dombkowski. Now Chicago house provides roofs for PWAs across the city.

Figuring out what was causing this disease that was killing our community meant Howard Brown ramping up, from STD testing and treatment to research and healthcare, led by another leatherman, Harley McMillan.

The last couple of years brought us covid and we responded, urging all to take care, get tested, vaccinated and caring for those afflicted. Now we've got monkeypox. Just as we have in the past, we are doing what we can to take care of not just our family but our entire community. Because we are leather. It's not a fashion choice, it is how we define ourselves, the identity of the bar and how I see myself.

Whether you are leather or not, get the damn vaccine. Yes, case numbers have fallen, but it is still out there. If we just ignore, it will rear its ugly head again and we will be back to square one. The shots are free. We offer them every week. If you don't want to come here, can't get here, then get vaccinated wherever you are. Demand it. We did, and that is how we are able to host our Vax Parties week after week.

I want all my P(r)icksters out there to get vaccinated against monkeypox. You wouldn't be reading this unless you are a horny bastard, too. Let's keep this from going any further. While you wait for your second dose and immunity to develop, you can safely grab my P(r)ick this week and stay horny with me.

David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com

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