Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms

By Will Seagers

 

I remember always admiring those built young  men when I first started cruising Christopher St. and going to Village bars and clubs. There was no doubt in my mind - likes attracted. So, "Gymming" had to become a part of my life.

My first experiences were "Health Spas" and the good old YMCA. The health spas offered pretty good workout equipment. But, they were more family oriented and had no sexual undercurrents. One thing that I noticed about the Ys was the additional activity going on in the wet areas. I could hardly wait to finish my workout and get to the showers! Lol.

During my stint as a steward for Eastern Airlines, I always opted to go off on my own on layovers when possible. This was particularly true when I flew between NYC and Montreal. L'Aero - Navette was the name of this shuttle flight. I spoke French and made the inflight announcements... usually with some chuckles form the French Canadian passengers. It seemed nobody could figure out what my accent was! Lol.

 

Eastern Airlines plane in flight

 

Anyway, Montreal was one of those cities where I stayed at the Y. It was smoking hot! I was especially drawn to the burly dark haired Canadian lumberjacks! They never failed to deliver the logs.

Fast forward to my arrival in San Francisco in the mid 70s, the Y came to the rescue again! Being new to town and not yet acquiring a gym membership, I made frequent visits to the branch downtown. I was most amazed at how brazen people's approaches were! Lots of grabbing and groping were to be had!

I don't remember what brought me to The Pump Room, one of the earliest gay men's gyms, but I sure made a home for myself there! It was a modest storefront location just above Church St. on Market St. It had two partners, Lee and Bob. The first was the primary partner and a very flamboyant type. The latter went on to partner with two other folks and create The Muscle System - AKA The Muscle Sisters.

I really liked the feel of the place and asked for a job. I was at a high point in my porn career, was recognized and was hired. I got hit on by a lot of the members and developed a thick skinned "attitude." Some members complained. But, I did my job, helped train new members on the equipment and was a recognized asset to the business. So, Attitude and all, I remained part of the staff for three years.

I mentioned that one of the owners was flamboyant. And, I should also add very talented at pageantry. There were festivals held at the San Francisco Civic Center called the Beaux Arts Balls - an annual event. I was asked to participate in several of these major costumed events. Lee was very clever with design. He made himself up in a huge blue plexiglass diamond. Along with several other buffed members of the gym, we "linked' together with Lee to form The Hope Diamond and its silver chain. It was very well done and garnered awards.

 

San Francisco Civic Auditorium exterior and interior

San Francisco Civic Auditorium exterior and interior

 

Perhaps the most vivid memory of these Beaux Arts Balls was one where we came as the signs of the Zodiac. Lee was the Sun. And, once again gym members were recruited and made up the twelve signs. Even though it wasn't my sign, I was given a very fetching costume of a Centaur - Sagittarius - complete with bow and arrow! Lee had crafted the rear, horse half of the centaur from chicken wire covered in purple (Sagittarius' color) velour with the horse feet on castors. I strapped it to my butt and it blended with my purple leotards. It was a knock out costume. When we presented ourselves on the runway, we were met with cheers and screams. Due my recognition in the porn biz, this spectacular costume and a little extra bravado on my part, the place went nuts as I was announced and I trotted down the runway with this horse's ass attached to me. I certainly didn't mind be a Sag for a night!

 

Will Seagers in glitter body paint

"Pump and circumstance"

 

The gay gym topic is a huge one for me. More to come au future!

 


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

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Welcome Matt/Will

By Will Seagers

 
Man's Image introduction of and nude calendar featuring Matt Harper (aka Will Seagers)

Man's Image introduction of and nude calendar featuring Matt Harper (aka Will Seagers)

 

Born in Jersey City, N.J. in January of 1951, I spent the early part of my youth in the northern part of the state and my teens at the Jersey Shore. The very beginning of my teens was when I realized that I was gay and enjoyed it at every chance! Also, in my family's move to the shore I made a life long friend, Michael, who was also gay. Although we had no sexual relationship, our friendship made it a lot easier for both of us to better understand our blooming sexualities.

My education was fairly typical for the times. Parochial school for the first two years and then public school through high school. My 2nd grade public school teacher was from France and helped to create a life long interest in the country, language and culture of France. Oui, je parle fran├žais!

College years were not productive. I was in the tumult of coming out and exploring my sexuality. I studied engineering and journalism. I did not have the discipline for either of them. During these years I lived in Jersey City and would take the "PATH" train over to Christopher Street and see what trouble I could get myself into. That is where I was "discovered," while cruising the streets, by Man's Image Studios and Lou Thomas. (Lou, with Jim French, started Colt, and later went on to start Target Studios in 1974). Lou and I hit it off and remained friends for years.

 

Portrait of Will Seagers

Photo by Lou Thomas

 

Realizing college was not right for me at the time, I decided to take a break. I went to work for Eastern Airlines as a flight attendant. I spent two years with them. First in New York at JFK, where I got to utilize my French in flights between NY and Montreal. The following year, I was based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After my stint with the airlines, I moved around the country a lot in the '70s. I moved back to NY in '74. I had several more episodes of being "discovered" on the streets. Two of the photoshoots were actually straight. One for a hair magazine and the other for a ladies' magazine, Viva.

 

Will Seagers on the cover of a men's hair magazine, 1975
Will Seagers on the cover of a men's hair magazine, 1975
 
Photo from Viva Magazine

In Viva Magazine

 

After NYC came Tempe, Arizona (near Phoenix). My roommate/friend from San Juan had won a scholarship at A.S.U. and wanted to know if I wanted to move out there with him for the school year. Not tethered to NYC by anything serious, I agreed. My first gig was bartending at the Newtown Saloon and then the local disco - Maggy's, both owned by the same men. That lasted for most of my one year stay in Arizona. My final gig in AZ. was working for a man named Phil in his porn warehouse. He owned most of the "Book Stores" in the Phoenix area. It was interesting to view the workings of the porn industry.

In 1976, I received a phone call from Lou Thomas asking me if I was interested in working on Fire Island for John Whyte. It was perfect timing; Arizona was winding down.

I worked in The Pines for John Whyte for three summers... glorious ones at that! Mostly as a bartender, waiter and life guard; my job was loosely structured to say the least. Lou Thomas imposed on John Whyte to "borrow" me for a few hours one afternoon while I made a flick with Bruno ("Bruno and Will" in Bullet Videopac 6). It was a hot and steamy flick and I went right back to work that afternoon after a quick cleanup! Lots of other movies were shot in a similar fashion on Fire Island. 1976, my first season on F.I., I met Chuck Holmes, owner of Falcon Studio. He invited me to come to San Francisco and work for him. I took him up on that and wound up living in S.F. for 14 years... 3 were bi-coastal with summers on Fire Island.

 

Promotional photos from Jack Deveau's Fire Island Fever (Hand in Hand Films, 1979)

Promotional photos from Jack Deveau's Fire Island Fever (Hand in Hand Films, 1979)

 

At the end of the first Fire Island season, 1976, a large group of the guys from John Whyte's "Boatel" moved en masse to San Francisco. I had a job waiting for me with Chuck Holmes.. so I was set! I couldn't believe S.F. - I thought that I had died and gone to heaven! The men, the men, the men! Lots of work with various studios commenced, including working with Al Parker and his lover. This went on for over a decade, intertwined with various other full time jobs including manning San Francisco's first gay gym, The Pump Room, and becoming an electronics maven at Eber Electronics in the Castro, which was my first real selling job.

Shortly after moving to San Francisco, I met the first love of my life, Tom Beebe. He knew exactly who I was and placed no expectations on me in terms of my "film career." We lived together in his small one bedroom apt. in the South of Market neighborhood for thirteen years until he passed from AIDS.

Music. Another big part of my life. During the last year that I worked on Fire Island, I had a wonderful affair with a man named Michael. Michael moved to San Francisco, as well. He was instrumental in creating the club Dreamland. He asked me to be part of the family and work on lighting. I had been making tapes and circulating them around town with success. Eventually, I was asked to DJ at the club. Easter Sunday Tea Dance 1980 was my debut. I played there briefly and then moved to playing music at the bars in the Castro... primarily The Badlands and Moby Dick Bar. I could feel a change coming. On Labor Day Weekend of 1991, I left S.F. and returned to the east coast to start a new version of myself.

After a few brief solo years, I met my spouse Alan in 1995. We met on the dancefloor of NYC's Roxie - a NYC dance club. It was the very weekend I returned from a non-productive year in South Beach. From this point on I rekindled the salesman part of myself as well as the musical part. I sold pianos and organs and taught the basics of organ techniques. I still have and play a massive Allen Theater organ. I also revisited the consumer electronics field in Santa Fe, N.M at The Candyman, where I managed the audio/video department.

Now at 71 and retired in the Southwest, I frequently reminisce about this great adventure called my life!

 

Will Seagers & Richard Locke on the cover of Drummer in an image from Joe Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (left); Will Seagers on the cover of Playguy Vol. 1, No. 1 (right)
Will Seagers & Richard Locke on the cover of Drummer from Joe Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (left); Will on the cover of Playguy Vol. 1, No. 1 (right)

 

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

Will Seagers, present day image

 

Thank you to Will Seagers for providing the photos featured in this blog.

 
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Jim Steele
OMG! OMG! OMG! I am delighted to learn that he is alive and well. I was so in love with him! He was my ideal of a 'real' man. When... Read More
Saturday, 19 March 2022 03:59
BJ
yeah! glad to read this post, and yeah to having "Matt/Will" write it himself - thanks for sharing some of your life with us - and... Read More
Sunday, 20 March 2022 14:17
Joseph D. Kahoonei
Aloha. I Am So Happy To Know That Mr. Matt Harper Famously Known As Will Seagers Led A Great Life. I Always Looked Out For Him In... Read More
Sunday, 20 March 2022 18:32
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