Mark I. Chester

images from Outcasts

Higher Crotch Conscieness
graffiti on Ringold Alley intersected by poet Jack Sharpless


As part of the work I was doing for Thompson's article, I found this graffiti in Ringold Alley.  For years, Ringold Alley was a major cruising area after bar time, sometimes so crowded that the cars would crawl through Ringold Alley one after another, cruising, searching, looking for late night sex until the cops came and chased the boys away.  I just wasn’t a late night street cruising boy.  So Ringold Alley held no sway for me.  So, I documented this graffiti that called for high crotch conscieness (sic).  In the intervening years that declaration has taken on both a heightened meaning and an extremely ironic one.

I asked Jack Sharpless, a tall slender leatherman poet that I knew from the Ambush bar, to pose with it, to give the photograph some real SOMA authenticity.  When the Advocate published the photograph, they titled it Poet Jack Sharpless intersects Ringold Alley graffiti.  Jack proudly showed off the photo saying it was the first time he had ever been publicly recognized as a poet.

You have no idea how difficult all of these photographs were to take.  Out in public.  On the run.  I find a safety in the studio, in being in my inner sanctum.  But street photography takes a certain naiveté and brash rudeness.  I am far too shy to truly enjoy doing it.