Diving into SoMa/Folsom: A TALE OF TWO STUDS

By Josh Eliot


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


Stud interior, Sylvester poster, new wavers


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


The Ritz poster and images with Rita Moreno


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

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


Siouxsie and the Banshees


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

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


Bio of Josh Eliot:

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


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

Coming out of my WET SHORTS
That BUTTHOLE Just Winked at Me!
DREAMLAND: The Other Place
A Salty Fuck in Saugatuck
Somebody, Call a FLUFFER!
(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?
CATCHING UP with Tom DeSimone
Everybody’s FREE to FEEL GOOD
SCANDAL at the Coral Sands Motel
RSVP: 2 Weeks Working on a Gay Cruise Ship
VOYAGER of the Damned

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Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Long Live the Stud!

By Will Seagers


After a tasty meal and a free trip to the Twilight Zone courtesy of Hamburger Mary's, It's time to strut across Folsom Street (diagonally) to the sister establishment of equal fame - The Stud - for music, dancing and (more) cocktails!


The Stud exterior, original location

The Stud exterior, original location


When TNT Enterprises opened up Hamburger Mary's and The Stud, it was a joint effort by the two original owners – (T)rixie N (T)oulouse. By the end of the 70s, Trixie had left San Francisco to live in Hawaii and open three more restaurants - Honolulu, Maui and Portland. When he left S.F., Toulouse took over H.M and Trixie's ex, Jimmy, ran The Stud.

I remember my first time in The Stud. It was packed with all sorts of men and women - colorful to say the least. There was quite a din coming from the roar of the crowd and the DJ booth - one of the first in the city. There was quite a mix in the sexuality, too. Gay and straight mixed nicely together without issue. If who you were hitting on was not receptive, it could be because they were either not turned on to you or they were straight! LOL. More times than not, people's sexuality was so pliable you might be going home with someone from "the middle!" It was the 70s and there was still the leftover free love from "The Summer of Love" of the Haight/Ashbury era of 1969!

Anyway, walking into the bar you would notice a distinct similarity in decor to Hamburger Mary's. Very rustic cedar shake walls and lots of great Deco lighting fixtures. The island bar was the prominent feature for sure. It was a huge narrow rectangle that spanned almost the entire middle of the room. The bartending staff was equal to that of Hamburger Mary's in terms of its eclectic mix. Some bartenders were very hot and others made up for that with their very individual personas. To the right and rear of the large bar was the dance floor and DJ booth. Great music was to be heard from many genres. Disco was just beginning to bud and it was featured there frequently at the end of the 70s by DJs like Chrysler Sheldon, George Ferren and John Rendazzo, just to name a few. Later Larry Larue would play host to new wave and punk music as the 80 were ushered in.


George Ferren, now living in New England
George Ferren, now living in New England
DJ Chrysler Sheldon and a glimpse of DJ John Randazzo

DJ Chrysler Sheldon in a Stud shirt (center) and a glimpse of DJ John Randazzo (right)


I was quite pleased to be invited to be The Stud's sound tech by Jimmy, the manager. I guess I was given good press by the folks over at Hamburger Mary's across the street! I used to frequent the bar to hear the sound system "in action." John, one of the DJs that I mentioned, liked having me in the booth for visits. I watched him spin and took notes. I told him that I was making tapes for clients around town. One night he asked me if I wanted to play. I was a bit timid at first... but, took him up on his offer. My brief debut that night and subsequent nights went well. This was the kick in the pants that I needed to pursue playing in public.

I had never known that The Stud's building was leased. Midway into the 80s the property owner, Alexis, came back to town and wanted the building back. The Stud was forced to move to its second location on Harrison Street were it remained until its closing just two years ago. Meanwhile, the original location remained a bar and was renamed The Holy Cow. I was their sound tech for a few months, then I moved on. One of the most distinguishing features of the newly renamed place was the life-sized fiberglass cow that was hung above the entrance!


Holy Cow exterior

Holy Cow exterior


The relocating of The Stud was really a good move. They managed to retain a lot of the feel of the original place - decor wise and people wise. And, it seemed to grow in popularity and fame. In its last ten years, it hosted regular periodic parties such as "Go Bang" with its creators Sergio Fedaz and Steven Fabus playing the best music out there! They crafted a very "clubby” feel that was reminiscent of many New York neighborhood dance bars. Sergio and Steve not only played but had top name guest DJs regularly. My last visit to San Francisco was in 2019 where I attended "A Tribute to the Troc." This was a party dedicated to the famous San Francisco disco Trocadero Transfer, also located in the South of Market region. Magical music from that era was skillfully played by Jerry Bonham that night. Familiar faces were in the crowd to celebrate and reminisce.


The Stud, second location
The Stud, second location
Steve Fabus in Go Bang shirt and Steve with Will

Steve Fabus in a Go Bang shirt (L) and Steve with Will on a recent visit (R)


It is hard to believe that there is no more Stud! COVID and the crazy San Francisco rent prices brought the bar to its close. It was truly the end of an era! But, I am willing to bet there will be one more clever redo... after all, Third Time is the Charm!


Bio of Will Seagers:

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


Will Seagers, present day image


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s
An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills
Merry Christmas (and Getting Re-Organized)
Now and Then
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: "Just Another Stroll Down the Castro!"
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Hamburger Mary's



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