A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!

By Will Seagers

 

Today's rather odd blog title indicates a duality in our visit of San Francisco's bygone days: SoMa/Folsom and The Haight. Partially because of one man - Sanford Kellman - who had legendary establishments in both sections of town.

It is hard to leave the SoMa/Folsom area without paying tribute to one of the most iconic bars on Folsom - The Bolt. Known to the gay community as a major leather bar, it drew visitors from far and wide. On any given night one could see the cream of the crop in terms of a "Man's Man" in this medium-sized venue. Quite frankly, I don't remember what the inside of the bar resembled because I was always looking at the incredible men it attracted! As a result, lots of contests and themed events took place there. I do remember iconic construction hardware and, in particular, construction hats as part of its theme. It was one of the first bars to incorporate chain-link fence as partitions in parts of the bar. This was used countless times in other bars (and films) due to the sexual undertones.

 

Chain-link fence in Chicago's Bijou Theater's dungeon room

Chain-link fence in Chicago's Bijou Theater's dungeon room

 

And, I can't leave this part of SoMa/Folsom history without mentioning "The Eagle!" Again we find ourselves in the "thick" of leather country! It had an indoor and vast outside patio. With a high fence as its perimeter, the outside patio played host to Sunday Beer Bashes where lots of its aforementioned leather crowd took advantage and LOTS of skin was exposed. Perhaps, The Eagle was most famous for its Leather Contests. Runways were constructed out on the patio where Leather Daddies and the like strutted their stuff to win some highly coveted titles. Yes! The Eagle deserves Icon status, as well!

 

SF Eagle ad

SF Eagle ad

 

Last but not least on our SoMa/Folsom bar tour is The Powerhouse, another legendary leather venue. Located at 1347 Folsom, across the street from the infamous Dore Alley, this hot spot hosted lots of hunky, bare-chested men. Also, it was known for the Bare Chest Calendar Contests that were held monthly. One's tour of the SoMa/Folsom area was not complete without a stop over at this location.

 

Dore Alley and Powerhouse staff

Oh, that infamous alley! (L) & The friendly inmates at The Powerhouse (R)

 

Back to Sanford Kellman. In 1977, he ventured into the Haight/Ashbury area (1748 Haight St. to be exact) to open one of the most successful dance clubs in San Francisco's gay history - The I Beam! Mr. Kellman carried his construction item theme to a grand level in this club. Hung above the spacious hardwood dance floor was a replica of an actual I Beam wrapped in silver mylar. A great sound system was created for the space by noted audio specialist Randy Schiller, who also provided systems for Castro bars such as The Badlands (where yours truly played for four years). Randy also provided great sound for lots of parties at large around the city such as at The Galleria.

Now, more about The I Beam. Upon entering, one had to ascend a major staircase, as the club itself was on the second floor. (Or was it the third? Lol.) After passing the coat check you encountered a massive game room filled with pool tables and pinball machines. The long bar was to the right, flanking the huge dance floor. Entertainment was brought to you by great DJs like Timmy Rivers, Steve Fabus and Michael Garrett, just to name a few. I remember many times when it got so hot in there that you would skid on the sweat on the dance floor! No joke! Leaving the club could be a bit of a challenge. With the popularity of Quaaludes and that staircase you had to navigate a second time on your way out, many revelers took a tumble! All kidding aside, this club and Mr. Kellman definitely left their mark on the city!

 

I Beam flyer

I Beam flyer

 

Located at 1840 Haight St., at the end of Haight and across from Golden Gate Park, was Bones. This bar preceded The I Beam by a few years and provided the neighborhood and the community with many DJ talents. Coming to mind were the two DJs most frequently behind "The Wheels of Steel" (once again) - Timmy Rivers and Michael Lee. A two-man team known to most as just Jack and Jerry were its owners. Although Bones was not as large as The I Beam, it sported a very sophisticated sound system using Klipsch Corner Horns and top end electronics. (Systems like this put Bones in a league like David Mancuso's LOFT of NYC, famed for its sound from way back at the very beginning of dance clubs.) Like the I Beam, Bones would get hellishly hot and the dancers would usually leave the club drenched! Because of its size and drawing power, it was inevitable that Bones would be eclipsed by the I Beam and close.

 

Klipsch Corner Horns

Klipsch Corner Horns

 

So, praise be given to those who invested in our bar-going and nightclub pleasures from one end of San Francisco to another! A good time was had by all!

 


 

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!”

 

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DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: Moby Dick Bar

By Will Seagers

 

Hi Guys! Will Seagers here to share some more Castro Neighborhood memories from the past. The focal point is the Moby Dick Bar, which I'm glad to report is still open. Once again this comes from the perspective of having been an employee. Hope you enjoy reminiscing!

 

Moby Dick Bar in the '80s

Moby Dick Bar in the '80s

 

It is sort of strange that I wound up DJing at three of the Castro Neighborhood's most prestigious bars when I was never a bar person. I did dabble in it back in my early 20s when I lived in New York City. I enjoyed the music and sexual energy of bars like The Eagle and The Anvil in particular. This was a good thing to have in my memory banks as when you are playing at stand up bars rather than dance clubs, you are creating background music to help the guys "achieve their goals!"

Routinely, as I mentioned in a prior blog about The Badlands, I played Sunday evenings right after Timmy Rivers. I had a nice little SAAB sedan that I drove from my apartment in the South of Market area to work. Parking was always a nightmare. My first choice was always on Hartford Street... just down the block from the Moby Dick Bar and two blocks from The Badlands. Frequently I lucked out. With my smart canvas bags full of records, I would pass by Moby Dick and notice the crowd. That wonderful music that spilled out the front doors sure helped me get in the party mood to play my shift at Badlands!

Moby Dick was a popular spot. Both music and people were to be found spilling outside of the place! Physically it was charming, a converted turn of the century retail store that had been painted in very Gay Colors. It's key feature was an enormous aquarium behind the bar... hence the name. There were two levels; the main level where the bar was located and surrounded by major windows. Then up a few steps was a gaming area with pool table and pinball machines. Off to the side of this upper level was a nearly hidden DJ booth.

 

Two views of Moby Dick Bar's aquarium

Two views of Moby Dick Bar's aquarium

 

I think how I started there is almost a blog in itself! My dear friend Michael Goglia, Moby Dick bar manager and former bartender at the Badlands, called me in a panic on New Year's Eve 1990 in the afternoon. He said his main DJ, Vincent Carleo (who was also a friend and who I greatly admired as a DJ for decades), had taken ill and could not play that night. I hadn't played out for several years but leapt at the opportunity! Needless to say, the rest of that afternoon I spent putting together my New Year's Eve ensemble. I have always kept a fully functional mixing system in my homes including a Technics RS-1506 open reel deck upon which I recorded my ensemble.

So, I arrived at the bar which was already partying and festive with my bags of records and my New Year's Eve mix. I was slightly nervous - but ready to take on the night! I was familiar with all of the equipment. At first, I was a bit put off by the location of this booth - there was no view of the bar or main floor. Up until this point I had always gauged how and what I was going to play by watching the crowd. That all changed very abruptly! So, midnight was quickly approaching and I got my program cued up on their open reel deck. At the stroke of 12, I started with the bells and alarm clocks from "Time" from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." As the bells faded into the heartbeats, I brought in "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copeland and followed that with a very popular disco hit by Thelma Houston - "Don't Leave Me this Way." The crowd went nuts and the cheering was even loud in my remote booth. Soon after the midnight celebration, Michael came rushing to the booth with a shot (and a line) to congratulate me on rocking the crowd. I do have my own rather unusual musical style. But, I had no idea that it would have been so well received. Michael was so happy that he was teary-eyed. He relayed to me the brilliance of using "Fanfare" followed by "Don't Leave Me this Way" - Aaron Copeland had just recently passed and I never even knew it! I know that my guardian angel was looking out for me! Michael then asked me to be a permanent member of the staff. After accepting, I enjoyed my final year and a half in San Francisco playing my heart out at Moby Dick Bar!

 

Moby Dick Bar's contemporary exterior

Moby Dick Bar's contemporary exterior
 

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

 

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: The Badlands

 

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