Mark I Chester photo of the day
Mark I Chester studio  1229 Folsom St./SF  415-621-6294 

November 2, 2011

This was the Ambush card with its iconic Chuck Arnett drawing of Ambush men.

It summed up a central attitude of the Ambush. Gay. Sex. Without shame. Without regret. Sex as revolution. Sex as birthright. Masculine. Stomping. Nasty. Loving. With a swagger. <eg> Drugs. Sex. Art. Music. Family and Community. And sex. Did I say sex? The bathroom was so full of sweaty pumping desire that you couldn't use it as a bathroom, which explained the long yellow streak winding its way from the back door.

I was new in SF in 1977 with my gay bar guide and I planned to visit every gay bar in town. A friend took me to the Ambush and sat me down and said, You're home. You're here. He ignored my protests and said, Look, be patient. If you wait long enough, everyone, including your mother will come through the Ambush. And while that may have been stretching the metaphor too far, it wasn't stretching it that far. I had never seen a bar like the Ambush or men like the Ambush men - rough sex, radical sex, leathersex even vanilla sex but, of course, with an edge. These men just oozed sex. And the bar was owned by South of Market men ... by us rather than the mafia.

And among all those men in leather or uniforms, or torn jeans and boots were also painters, photographers, playwrights, gallery owners, musicians and writers: Lou Rudolph, Peter Hartman, Tony DeRosa, Robert Chesley, Bill McNeil, Snowflake and so many more. For me it was a moment in time when everything came together and for the first time in my life there were no compartments in my life separating my job, my personal life, my sexuality, my art and my community