DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Midnight Sun

By Josh Eliot

 

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

 

Louie's Barber Shop and Marcello's Pizza

Louie's Barber Shop and Marcello's Pizza

 

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

 

Donuts 24 and the Patio Cafe

Donuts 24 and the Patio Cafe

 

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

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

 

Josh with Castro Street roommates Alvonne, Brian and Paul

Josh with Castro Street roommates Alvonne, Brian and Paul

 

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

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

 

The Midnight Sun

The Midnight Sun

 

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

 

Free Alexis Halloween costumes after Dynasty viewing

Free Alexis Halloween costumes after Dynasty viewing

 

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

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

 

Midnight Sun current lineup and interior

Midnight Sun current lineup and interior

 

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

 

Bio of Josh Eliot:

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

 

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

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
FRANK ROSS, The Boss
Our CALIGULA Moment
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
The Late Great JOHN TRAVIS, My POWERTOOL Mentor
(Un)Easy Riders
7 Years with Colt Model MARK RUTTER
Super NOVA
Whatever Happened to NEELY O’HARA?
Is That AL PARKER In Your Photo?
DOWN BY LAW: My $1,000,000 Mistake
We Waited 8hrs for a Cum Shot... Is That a World Record?
Don't Wear "Short Shorts" on the #38 Geary to LANDS END
How Straight Are You Really?
BEHIND THE (not so) GREEN DOOR
The BOOM BOOM Room
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Castro Theatre

Rate this blog entry:
588 Hits
0 Comments

The Wheels of Steel

 

By Will Seagers
 

Will Seagers at J&R Music World, NYC

Me at J&R Music World, downtown NYC, after purchasing my 2nd pair of 1200 Wheels of Steel!

 

Through many of the blogs that I have written, I have alluded to my love affair with dance music and mixing that dance music. It is time for a tighter focus on that.

Through my late teens and early twenties as my porn career was starting to happen, there was another sexual form that was taking shape, as well - Dance and Dance Music. To equate this to sex might sound like hyperbole. But, that's the way it felt to my body and mind. To a large extent, the way a man moved had a lot to do with how he turned me on. You could just see the sex in the movements! Without that - it just left me flat!

Doing my "internship" for all of this in the greater NYC Metropolitan area, there was a city energy that came through the music. I was quite comfortable letting the City DJs wind me through their nightly fare of music in total trust. It wasn't until I moved to San Francisco that I felt a need to participate in generating some of that energy myself.

I missed some of the late night New York urban sexuality in the music I was hearing in S.F. So, I actually decided to put a mixing system together at home and start making some tapes of what I missed. To my surprise and pleasure, I had a small cassette tape business rolling in no time.

Part of my musical history was living and working on Fire Island for three seasons. Some of the best music and best DJs in the world played there. It was there in 1978 that I made a friend who was also working on The Island, Michael. We really hit it off and became dance and fuck buddies. Oh, and we both played the tambourines... a popular addition to many dance floors of the day! At the end of the season he moved to S.F., too.

Long story short. Michael had the same feeling about S.F. His background was in finance and raising funds. He soon went about gather friends together with the prospect of creating a whole new night club, "Dreamland." The very first meeting of these people happened in my small living room with blueprints spread across my mirror topped coffee table. (Of course being the late 70s, that table got a whole different workout after the blueprints! lol)

So the club became a beautiful reality very soon after. It occupied one of the many vacant warehouses in the district. I came on board as basically a cheerleader and I occasionally did the lights, too.

As fate would have it, Michael heard one of my cassette tapes. He contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in playing for the club. I was ecstatic! My debut was the Easter Sunday Tea Dance of 1980. I had never played a floor that large, so my mixing was a bit rough. But, I reveled in the squeals and screams of joy that came from the music I played, regardless. That started it.

I wasn't crazy about playing all-nighters. So, I started to play in the bars in the Castro Section of S.F. That was a comfortable fit! I will never forget my first few Saturday night shifts at The Badlands. I literally got that crowd to screaming, too!

I remained there for four years with lots of great nights, afternoons and memories in general. But, being visited by such stars as Sylvester was one of my favorite events! I loved his attitude. He would think nothing of hurling himself through that packed bar to the back where I was in the DJ booth. He would always bring a new song he was working on... and I would instantly work it in... usually not missing a beat! He loved that. He also used me in one of his videos. Although I didn't sing or dance... I was a hulk in the background!

 

Sylverster at a late '70s San Francisco Gay Day Parade

Sylvester at a late '70s S.F. Gay Day Parade!

 

Last but not least was my spinning at Moby Dick Bar, just down the street from The Badlands. Another wonderful Michael, the manager of Moby Dick, asked me to pinch hit one night – and that night was New Year's Eve. I rose to the occasion and remained there 'til I left S.F. two years later. I really loved that bar and its clientele. They were musically open to the offbeat (but tasty) musical fare that I offered. I am so glad that was my last stop.

In the thirty plus years since I have "Played Out," I have maintained a mixing console at home. And, from time to time, I will make a CD mix for a friend. It always feels good to be behind the "Wheels of Steel" again... for that steamy feeling!

Thank you to Will Seagers for use of his photos.


Bio of Will Seagers:

Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted career and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model and film performer. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.

 

Will Seagers, present day image

 


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1

 

Rate this blog entry:
837 Hits
0 Comments

Contact Us | 800-932-7111 | Join our email list

Go to top