DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Badlands

By Will Seagers

 

I am very excited to begin this new series with my co-author Josh Eliot. Readers of the Bijou blogs should be quite familiar with Josh's excellent writing style and accounts of gay history past. This new series will be delving into various neighborhoods in San Francisco during the 1980s. Our first look will be in the Castro... a perfect place to start!

My knowledge of The Badlands and its sister bar The Phoenix will be coming from the perspective of a DJ. That was my job in both of these bars. It would not have been right to skip over the Phoenix, as that was actually the first of three bars that I played in the Castro. Also, in its original iteration known as Toad Hall, it was one of the most famous and history rich spots in the district. Many a famous face (and body) waltzed in and out of its doors during the heydays of the mid 70s. People such as Al Parker appeared there frequently. You never knew who you were going to bump into. But, you were always guaranteed a good time!

 

Toad Hall exterior and advertisements, 1970s

Toad Hall exterior and advertisements, 1970s

 

After my brief but pleasant stint playing at Dreamland, I realized that I was not cut out for playing the very long hours that were required. My hat is off to those who could play those sometimes twelve-hour shifts! Luckily I had been approached by the manager of the Phoenix and Badlands who asked me if I would be interested in playing. Without hesitation I said yes and soon started at the Phoenix.

This was a very different kind of place for me. It was a Castro St. bar with a very regular and dedicated clientele. They seemed to take to my eclectic mix of R&B, disco and jazz. My only complaint about the bar was the booth. It was more like an aerie! One had to climb what appeared to be a ladder straight up the wall and enter the booth through the floor. Bringing up crates of records... well, you can imagine what that was like! The view and the sound were great. But, you certainly had to put on a long song if you wanted to take a pee break! Lol. My tenure at the Phoenix was only a few months, as I was suddenly moved "across the street" to The Badlands!

But before leaving the Phoenix, I need to mention a neighborhood spot just two doors down on the corner of Castro and 18th: the Star Pharmacy with its celebrity Jackie “Star.” She was loved by everyone in the neighborhood.

 

Star Pharmacy

Star Pharmacy

 

Moving on, one afternoon the manager of both bars, Ben, came into the Phoenix to ask me if I wanted to play at The Badlands. Once again without hesitation I said yes. I was pleased to find out that he had become a fan of my music and thought it would be an even better fit at The Badlands. I guess I should also mention that this move had something to do with my popularity in L.A. Tool & Die! The booth in The Badlands was in the back of the bar but was visible to most of the clientele. It was shortly after this that I met the owner of both bars, Ron Holmes. Ron was always very quiet and a bit shy. He seemed to like me and always treated me with respect. When I least expected it, I would find him in the back of the booth smiling and enjoying the music. Sometimes it actually startled me!

 

L.A. Tool & Die poster

L.A. Tool & Die poster

 

This was a great job and a great house to play. I remained there for four years! At first, it was a bit daunting in that some of the very best DJs in the city played there: Timmy Rivers, Johnny Hedges and my very dear friend Jorge Martinez (who formerly played at the Boom Boom Room as discussed in one of Josh's previous blogs). For the first few weeks I followed Timmy Rivers' "Church." Timmy did an amazing and soulful mix on Sunday afternoons that got the whole bar swaying! I would come in at 8PM to relieve him and continue until we closed at 2AM. My biggest challenge and goal was to seamlessly blend into his last record and keep the feeling he had created intact for as long as possible. After a bit, I would segue into something more energetic with my signature thumping bass line! After about a month or so, I was given Saturday nights. These were my most cherished memories of being a DJ. I loved to take the room on a trip by taking popular tunes and building momentum to a point that the crowd would scream with joy when a new peak was hit during the night. One of my fondest memories/compliments was when a patron came to the booth with a shot for me and told me that my music made him feel like he was on cocaine! Their only complaint was that they could not dance... it was a stand up bar!

It was a treat and a privilege to have worked with the great and sexy bar staff that that provided the drinks and visuals that made this bar a legend. Its iconic cedar shake interior with license plates from all states and years adorned the walls. Most iconic were the "do not" placards. They resembled stick figures in various positions. Two of my favorites were the figure holding a pot to his mouth and a red circle and a line through it indicating - no pot smoking. The other was in one of the two men's rooms - the open men's bathroom. It had a bathtub AND a trough style urinal! This sign had two stick figures - one kneeling in front of another with the red circle and red line running through it. (I let you figure out what that one meant! Lol.) Regardless of the signs, hot little incidents would have to broken up from time to time. Men will be men! I look back at all of this and think "what a great time to have been alive!"

 

Badlands bar in its later era

Badlands bar (1975 - 2020) in its later incarnation

Previous blogs in DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO series:
The Castro Theatre - 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

 

Rate this blog entry:
1028 Hits
0 Comments

Pin Money

By Will Seagers

 

I have always considered my excursion into the porn business as one of sex and pleasure (and some notoriety), and not one of great financial gains. It WAS always a great deal of fun to make porn - whether it be print or film. Most people involved were there to create a medium that was intended to make the viewer have fun!

When I first started, it was in print medium - mags, calendars and the like. Names like Man's Image, Target and Falcon are first to come to mind. Not much money was to be gotten from these adventures. I didn't complain - I figured out rather quickly from my first few shoots what the going rates were for the more notable studios. So, I called it my "Pin Money."

 

Will Seagers in a Man's Image calendar & on the cover of the first issue of Playguy

Will Seagers in a Man's Image calendar & on the cover of the first issue of Playguy

 
1978 Target calendar & a Target magazine from a shoot for Bullet's Cowpokes

1978 Target calendar & a Target magazine in connection with Bullet's Cowpokes

 

Now, being that this was not nearly enough money to support myself, (especially living in the fair city of San Francisco), I always kept myself gainfully employed with what I called my regular job, as well. I worked in several gyms and gay clubs in town over the years. In terms of the clubs, I always wanted to play music. So, one of my first outlays with the pin money was for a pair of turntables, a mixer and a modest sound system. All of this was for the purpose of teaching myself how to be a DJ. It started off with making cassette tapes for friends and "getting the word out!" The pin money and odd jobs helped me scrape enough together to buy a fairly recent model FIAT 124 Spider!

 

Fiat 124 Spider and Will's following car, a Peugeot 504 Fiat 124 Spider and Will's following car, a Peugeot 504
 
Turntable and mixer

Will's first turntable and mixer

 

I had the unique fortune to be reaching a high point in my porn career at the same time. (Don't think I didn't I didn't use that to my advantage!) So, when I showed up with my demo tape of my music in person... sometimes the tape was never even heard! I played at a couple of noteworthy establishments in San Francisco's Castro District - namely The Badlands, the Phoenix and finally Moby Dick Bar. But, I certainly cannot leave out the night club Dreamland from the list. Two of my friends who were an integral part of that club, Roy Shapiro and Michael Maier, heard my tapes. I was summoned to perform for "Easter Sunday Tea Dance" in 1980. I stayed with that venue for a year or so. (I quickly found out that I was not the kind of DJ that played all through the night and into the morning hours!)

Towards the end of my four-year engagement at the Badlands, I began to tire of bar life and being up all night. A "Regular Job" fell out of the sky through my friend and salesman Harold Banks at Eber electronics. Now in my mid thirties and my porn career starting to slow down a bit, I took on the mantle of "Electronics Maven of Castro Street!" I still played music on Sunday nights at Moby Dick Bar through my connection with my friend and the manager, Michael Goglia. That place was the last where I played records... and my favorite!

So, that accounts for the early years. They were great (if not chaotic!). In 1991, my "Guardian Angel" tapped me on the shoulder telling me it was time for a trip back home (back east) and a reassessment of where I was on life's trail. I loved San Francisco! It was where I found out who I was and what I could become. And, I am glad to have been there for the golden years of that city!

 


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

 

Rate this blog entry:
1337 Hits
0 Comments

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

Go to top