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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                273
             the Ferry Building up to the Castro.) When David Sparrow and I loaded
             his stuff into his GMC pickup truck and my Toyota Land Cruiser, and
             drove him to 766 Clementina Street, Jim Stewart was one of the many
             guys to move South of Market, marking a psychological shift of personal
             investment more than simply slumming down to SoMa after midnight.
             Even though we all closed our eyes at how unhygienic was the Barracks
             or, especially, the Slot, my inner clean queen thought his old building
             (constructed after the 1906 quake) too ratty and roach infested, but it
             was centrally located for gay men not wanting to support a car, and for
             an artist seeking hot-and-cold running models. As 1970s leather identity
             grew, Jim Stewart and Robert Opel followed the earlier 1960s pioneers
             who had settled SoMa.
                They mirrored the bohemian lead of Chuck Arnett, the dominant
             artist of Folsom Street who displayed his graffiti mural-art as majesti-
             cally as a stone-age Druid on the stonewall of his gay bar, the Tool Box,
             because, he said, “Galleries are funeral parlors for artwork.” Arnett’s
             mural had been featured in Life magazine, June 26, 1964, five years before
             Stonewall, and his images drew, literally, millions of queer, faggot, gay,
             leather “sex tourists” from around the world to SoMa. Many of the early
             leather-sex pioneers were, as was I, university academics — the luxe class
             who had the most time to travel between semesters. Some of them were
             artists and writers and photographers and models and they were hungry
             for a magazine like Drummer. As early as Drummer 4 (January 1976),
             Robert Opel had pegged Arnett as “Lautrec in Leather.” Life on Folsom
             was our leather La Boheme. In the 1960s and 1970s, we lived and fucked
             and loved in those falling-down workingmen’s hotels reshaped into bars
             and baths and garrets where finally in the 1980s, coughing, selling ear-
             rings for medicine in Tijuana (like Drummer model and HIV-activist
             Richard Locke), we died in droves.
                My press release for Jim Stewart references the already ongoing exis-
             tence of the SoMa Open Studio movement (and the South of Market
             Artists Association) that had begun with Chuck Arnett and Bill Tellman
             who drew the ethereal “Valium-Blue Poster” for the Slot Hotel (1971), and
             Mike Caffee who created the sculpture of the Leather David (1966) for
             Fe-Be’s bar. (For the magical conjure value of Caffee’s “Leather David,”
             see “Sex and Witchcraft” in Popular Witchcraft: Straight from the Witch’s
             Mouth (1972, 2005), page 153.
                The press release also references Jim Stewart’s photographs of Chris-
             to’s “Running Fence.” This was a very huge work of conceptual art that
             thrilled the Bay Area, and the world, for two weeks in September 1976.
             Christo’s enormous sculpture of fabric panels was eighteen-feet tall and
             stretched from inland Sonoma County, not far from my house in the

           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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