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

November 26, 2011

photo of the day 11/26/2011 photo Mark I Chester
Bo from the series Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 1981
Posting the photo of Charles on his bike made me think of this photograph of Bo leaning against his bike on Brush Place, the little alleyway I lived on just off of Folsom St. For 6 months after I moved to San Francisco I lived just 1/2 block from Castro St. on Market St., and then I moved to the South of Market, not yet code named SOMA to increase the rents. I have lived on or just off Folsom St. for the last 33 years. That was not intentional, it just happened.

These two dead end alleyways, Hallam and Brush Place, formed an L off of Folsom St. and created their own little universe. Yes, it was heavily gay and it was men into the South of Market scene - rough sex, radical sex, leathersex and sadomasochistic sex. There were a number of playrooms that I knew of, down Hallam and across Brush. Maybe no one was as outrageous as Alexis, a friend from Columbia who lived on the alleyway. As you walked down Hallam, flanked by apartment buildings on one side and what used to the Red Star Saloon and Barracks Bathhouse on the other, you could almost always hear Alexis playing. The sound of his whips ricocheting and serenading you as you walked down the alleyway. He was unstoppable. Done with one trick, he'd be out at the bars, luring someone else back to his apartment and this could go on multiple times throughout the night.

There was the old Spanish lady who claimed the parking place in front of her house, claiming that only she had the legal right to park there. No one listened to her, but you could expect to be cussed out in rapid fire Spanish when you did. And there was the former lawyer, now meth addict and het biker next door living below a former gay bar DJ, who had lived in San Francisco for so long that he knew where all the skeletons were buried.

And then there was Jesus Christ Satan Prince Arcadia (there were many more names that I have long since forgotten), one of those colorful figures that populate San Francisco's history. He was this mad (and I mean MAD) queen who hosted runaway boys in the burned out ruins of the Red Star Saloon. There was no electricity and no running water. But there was always a new runaway boy in collar and shackles following him around. Every so often a typewritten screed would show up on the telephone poles declaring himself ruler of the universe and decrying the sins of modern life. One day I came home only to find that he had carpeted the alleyway so that it would be softer for the cars that parked there.

And in my building, in the unit right across from mine was an older black couple in their 70s who had been together since they were childhood sweethearts. One day we were chatting and she looked at me, said nothing for a moment and then quietly said, You're good boys, aren't you? It was the most gentle way she could find to let me know that she and her husband could hear me and my lover Frank having sex. And admittedly the sex we were having was not quiet sex. I knew exactly what she meant. Yes, I told her. Of course, we're good boys. I promise. She smiled a very gentle, very sweet smile. I immediately went out and bought the largest gag that I could find.  And she never brought the topic up again.