photo of the day 10/14/2011. photo © Mark I Chester.
Posting the photo of Cleo Dubois made me think about this photo. This is a 9/1983 photograph of Bill Browning, a NY punk boy that I was in love with in the early/mid 1980s. He was a 24 year old NYC Alphabet City boy who played clarinet in a band called E'cuse Me, Sir. He was also an artist and ahead of his time with modified mo's, ink and metal. He had so many rings in his ears, that sometimes you saw more rings than you did flesh. And a sense of style that only a Leo can put on display.
In 1984, Bill, Cleo Dubois and I (and others) put on a performance piece at Studio Rhino called Connections. This photo ultimately was used as pr for Connections. Most people look at the photo and go ouch!, but what they don't see is that the leather hand is not pulling on the rings. It is Bill who is pulling against the leather gloved hand. Just what you would expect from a punk boy into kink and fetish. The leather gloved hand belongs to gay playwright Robert Chesley, my ex, who brought Bill into my life.
I just remembered something about this that I had forgotten. I sent this image to the SF Bay Times for their calendar. They printed the photograph, but cropped out the leather glove because they thought it promoted violence. Remember this was 1984 but it is still a great example of political correctness run amuk.
Bill and I fell in love by accident. He was visiting SF and needed a place to stay. As a favor to Robert, I offered my space. Bill and I went to sleep on opposite sides of the bed, but woke up entangled in each other's arms. And we stayed like that as much as we could over the next two weeks. But ultimately, fate intervened. Bill died from AIDS at the age of 27 with so much life left to live, before he even had a chance to really become himself. It has been 27 years since he passed away and after all this time, there is still a hole in my heart that can never be healed.