Mark I. Chester

images from Outcasts

Gary in bondage


For the first 6 months I lived in San Francisco, I lived on Market St. just 1/2 block off of Castro.  It was insane in 1977 and there were gay men hanging out on the streets at all times of day or night.  Nothing today comes close to it.

I then moved South of Market, to a dead end alley off of Folsom St. called Brush Place that was at the end of another dead end alleyway called Hallam St.  In the middle of Hallam was an Airstream RV in an empty little lot.  The guy who lived in the trailer was Gary.  He was young, slender, with a big dick and he loved bondage and sm.  He was a bus driver and tour guide.  Too bad he never got to give the kind of tour that would have personally turned him on.

Gary had a basset hound named Horace and they were the unlikeliest combination, the slow moving big floppy eared basset hound with the deep hollow bark and this hot young guy with a big dick, but you could tell that they were a pair.

Gary wasn't the only person in these two dead end alleyways that I had had sex with.  Paul was older, wiry with a beard and I think he must have hit on every young guy who moved into the area.  But he was also hot and the first time we actually had sex was a great experience, until his lover came banging on the door and screaming so that the entire neighborhood could hear that it was time for him to stop being a slut and to come home and have dinner.

It was South of Market in the late 1970s.  A wild combination of people lived there: spanish, black, older,  a young het biker and former lawyer now on speed, and a lot of gay men, many of whom were into either fisting or leather.  And there was JesusChristSatanPrinceArcadia, ... well I think that was at least part of his name.  A strange character with a constant stream of collared runaway boys that would stay with him in the closed former bathhouse, without electricity or running water.  He was always doing something mad like carpeting the alleyway to make it softer and nicer for the cars.

And Rex lived in this alleyway, the front room of his home, a gallery devoted to his drawings of men en flagrante.  Doing all kinds of sick and nasty things.  Just like the guys outside his door.  Now here I am, the front room(s) of my home, a gallery devoted to my photographs of men (and women) en flagrante.  Doing all kinds of sick and nasty things.  Just like the guys roaming the late night streets outside my door.

My upstairs neighbor was Ed.  He graduated high school, went into the armed forces, served his time and eventually moved to San Francisco.  He was sweet, gentle and heavily into his asshole.  Some time after I moved in, he built a special bed with a mattress that flipped up, revealing a fiberglass tub.  He could play, have sex, clean out, get dirty and get clean, all in this tub.  He ran hoses from the tub and pumps sucked everything to the toilet.  Whenever he was playing, I could hear the pumps loudly sucking.  There was one long s.........u......c.........k followed by three short suck.. suck.. sucks.  And then after a brief moment of silence, it started all over again.  My bedroom was directly under his and there was something comforting about the sound of those pumps pumping away, whatever it was they were pumping away.  Almost meditative, like hearing the waves crash on the shore.  Whenever I heard those sounds, I knew that Ed was having fun and feeling good.

The night of the 1981 Folsom St. Fire, the largest fire in SF history since the 1906 earthquake, I was printing photographs late at night at the San Francisco Institute of Art where I was taking a class.  As I drove home, I could tell that something was wrong.  And then I couldnít go any further.  As I ran towards my home, it was blocked by a wall of fire, fire fighters and fire trucks and a lot of chaos.  It took me a long time but I finally found Ed.  We stood and watched the fire burn our homes and in a very real sense, our lives.  He just stood there and shook his head and repeated over and over, ďItís all over .... itís all over.  I never really understood, at the time, what he meant.  We were alive.  We may have lost belongings, but we were alive and well.  But he saw something in the dark clouds that hung over our heads.  And a few years later he died from AIDS.