Here’s the story

The short version:

Basically I’m just like thousands of other queers who grew up in the hinterland and made the move to the big city for a more interesting life. I’m 31 years old, employed as an operations manager at Kinko’s, and live in San Francisco’s schizophrenic South of Market Area. I am currently single, and don’t necessarily want that to change. Interested parties are welcome to try, but be forewarned: I smoke, I eat meat, and I drink the occasional beer(s), but I avoid other drugs and have a low tolerance for heavy stoners and speed freaks. I tend toward cynicism and irony, but I’m not really mean-spirited. And I can cook if I have to, but I will not wash dishes. Ask my roommate.

The longer version:

My life story starts in the scenic vista known as Greensboro, North Carolina . I was a cute kid. I’m not sure what happened. My parents are incredibly sane, still married to each other, and I’m still on friendly terms with them.

I was an only child, and I remain a spoiled brat. I traveled a fair amount as a child, but lived at the same house until I moved out. My parents still live there. I’m pure middle-class WASP; there’s just no way around it.

I spent most of my elementary years in a frightening Southern Baptist school. My parents weren’t particularly religious; they just weren’t too fond of the Greensboro public schools. Ever since I finally saw “the light” and got the hell out at 12, I’ve had a major thing about Bible-thumping Fundamentalists who preach hate in the name of “Christian love”.

I spent my unpleasant and unpopular junior high years at Allen Jr. High, where the biggest discovery I made was the beauty of naked boys in the locker room. Alas, it was “look but don’t touch”.

High school was a little better. I had regular classes at Smith High School and TV and Graphics classes at Weaver Education Center. I went through my drug/booze phase in the 10th grade, my generic high school kid who works at McDonald’s in my junior year, and my pretentious intellectual philosopher phase in my senior year. Plus the boys were cuter in high school; see for yourself .

My senior year (1982) was also the year I “came out” and boy was I obnoxious about it. I told everyone, had a major chip on my shoulder, and may have single-handedly invented political correctness and newspeak (sorry…). This was also the year that I came to know my three best and oldest friends, Jeff, Duncan, and Stan.

That summer I began my three years at WUAG-FM, the radio station at UNC-Greensboro , and began greatly expanding my interest in music which was outside the mainstream. This was the period where I was an occasional club DJ, and was also the time when Danny Elfman rode in the front seat of my car. I also did the campus politics thing, Gay Students Association, and learned how to drink (again).

After a little more than two years at UNCG, three things combined to make my life really wierd: I fell in love with the wrong boy, realized I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, and started doing the club scene too much. End result: I stopped going to classes and flunked out of school with a 3.3 average. (I didn’t get the boy either.)

So began five bad years. I worked for a crappy retail company for three of them, moved first to Myrtle Beach, S.C . and then to Charlotte, N.C. (my adopted hometown), drank a lot, experienced genteel poverty, and learned how to manage a skate/surf shop. This, I guess was where my fascination/fetish for skaters began…it continues to this day. If he’s scruffy and wearing Airwalks , I’m there.

By 1989, I’d had enough, moved back to my parents’ house in Greensboro and went back to school full time. I did better this time, graduating with a double major in Geography and Sociology (concentrated in Urban Studies), and working part-time at Kinko’s . I’m still working there, only now it’s full-time and I’m management.

In 1991, I visited San Francisco for the first time. The next year I moved here (a lot of people have this reaction). It is a good and wonderful place, where the scenery is good, the weather is perfect, and the boys are sleazy. It’s the first city in which I’ve ever felt truly at home. I even have a cool roommate, Dan , whom I haven’t killed even after almost four years.

In San Francisco, I have experienced many things and many boys and have somehow managed to develop at least a hint of an identity in the process. I’ve done the slut thing and the romance thing (and have decided I like something in between…for example a boyfriend who will venture to Blow Buddies with me and then come home and curl up next to me where he belongs…)

I’ve made lots of friends at work, at play, and lately, on line as well. My good friend Troy fulfills the roles of Duncan and Jeff in their absence, and he’s been doing a particularly good job given my recent set of job-related (and other) neuroses. My North Carolina connections Steve, Todd, Tim, Lori (a recent migrant), and Kevin (who I also work with) bring me liver pudding and barbecue when they can. James, who’s the chef at Bruno’s, would feed me if I’d return his videos. All in all, life is good. Join the crowd. Send me a note.

[Recreated from my earliest surviving site archive.]

Sex spots South of Market

Sex Clubs (1996)

San Francisco does this very well, although the scene seems to be experiencing one of its periodic downswings. It almost seems as if the “goldem age” of early 1990’s sex clubs has ended, and that the scene is just itching for something new to come along. It’s a shame that right now the SF sex club scene has come to resemble the bathhouse scene in other cities so much. Afew too many muscle-bound attitude queens strutting about with their shirts off. But better times are a-comin’. I can feel it.

Standup sex with strangers is not for everyone, but I highly recommend it if you’re adventurous and comfortable with the concept. There’s also the voyeuristic aspect, if you don’t feel like participating. Etiquette requires that you be assertive but not pushy, and that you respect the desire of others if they do not wish for you to join in the festivities. Basically this means when someone pushes your hand away, don’t keep sticking it back in! Safer sex is encourgaged in all clubs and monitored in most. (I won’t say which ones don’t monitor because you should be safe and shouldn’t care.)

The Power Exchange
(Otis Street between South Van Ness and McCoppin)

I have to admit I still haven’t visited this newest incarnation. The Playground is no more. Closed…history…gone. In its place is the Power Exchange, apparently relocated and re-formatted. The flyers show something resembling a leatherman (so much for the “transgender twist” of the former Power Exchange, I guess.) The tents are gone and the Upper Level is closed, as is the newly installed maze on the first floor. The wide open space makes the place seem even less intimate than before, not a good attribute for a sex club. Crowd is very hit or miss. Of course, most of my info is second hand, as I haven’t felt inspired to visit yet. Look for a more personalized and opinionated review soon…hopefully this weekend.

Blow Buddies
(933 Harrison near Sixth)

Speaking of muscle-bound attitude queens and strutting… Not as big as the above, but still pretty dang spacious, with a smoking patio. Booths, mazes, a “cell”, video lounge, “restrooms”, and an oral sex/gloryhole area with the most convenient architecture I’ve ever seen. There is an occasionally open watersports area. Membership $2, and cover usually in the $7 range. There seems to be an early and a late rush: 2-4AM on weekend nights, earlier (10-12) on Sundays, although Sunday may go late too. Crowd is mostly of the “see how butch I am…really” variety, sort of pseudo-leather, musclebound, and shirtless. Weeknights suffer greatly from the “no one admitted after 2:30” rule. Bring your body. No fucking or rimming.

(317 Tenth near Folsom)

Leather-oriented with occasional handballing (a/k/a fisting) parties. I’ve only been there for some Michael Blue parties a year or so back, so I can’t give much of a review. Layout didn’t do much for me, although there is a cool loft space downstairs. Pretty small, and no “outside”. This just in: two of my ex-es just met there last week and had a very nice little affair. There’s hope…

Dark Alleys (1996)

Remember that street cruising has its risks. I live here. I know the terrain. You should too. Do not attempt this when your consciousness is lacking due to too much drinking or chemical stimulation. It could be more painful than you bargained for.

Ringold Alley (between Folsom and Harrison, Eighth and Ninth)

A San Francisco tradition, this interesting spot acn be experienced on foot or by car; there is even the occasional cab. Tour buses are discouraged. Ringold is by and large a late space, filling up around 2AM when the nearby bars empty out. Prime time runs until 3 or 4 especially on weekend nights, and the cruising is of a dark and severe nature. Tendencies toward leather and an older crowd, but this is not an absolute. Hustlers on occasion. SOMABoy has often made out right there on the alley. Cool, but be careful.

Rogers/Heron/Berwick (across Eighth Street)

A convenient and less public place to retire after the above, especially when trucks are parked there. Had a right nice time here with two boys recently, one of them a lost Castro queen and the other a friend from the ‘hood.

Folsom Street proper (from Fifth to Eleventh)

It’s not an alley but there’s several adjacent ones. Cruise late at night, with clusters around the bookstores near Fifth, again between Seventh and Ninth, and — so I’m told — near Dore Alley. Sometimes works in the daytime too. If you wait long enough after last call, 90% of the suburban heterosexuals are gone. This makes cruising easier and more convenient. Sometimes workable in the daytime too, especially on the eastern fringe, but you gotta have an eye for it.

Outside the ‘hood (1996)…

I can’t really personally recommend places, as I deny the existence of the Castro, and like places within walking distance. However, there is a sex club on Castro north of Ninteenth (the “Black House”) , which is allegedly undergoing a transformation of sorts. In addition, there are Eros (Market near Church, across from Safeway) and 1808 (1808 Market near the underpass). I can give absolutely no details about either place, as they are not in my current repertoire.

There is also a cruising park where little seems to happen behind Cala Foods at Eighteenth and Collingwood .

Buena Vista Park in the Upper Haight is interesting around midnight, they say, and the views are good. There are also rumors of youngsters in the after school hours if that’s your thing, but if you’re over 18, make sure they are too.

The Windmills at Golden Gate Park (older crowd with a tendency toward closets) and Land’s End (younger and prettier and sunbathing nude in the summer) offer sex in a beach setting. Watch those cliffs.

Lafayette Park in the lower Pacific Heights area (Gough at Sacramento) has also been recommended. No personal reference here. Never done it; Pacific Heights (a/k/a “Specific Whites”) gives me the willies.

As to the tearoom scene, should you be so inclined, I can personally recommend Rincon Center and 4 Embarcadero Center in the Financial District, and Keith at Steam Magazine recommends the fourth floor of the library at San Francisco State University.

[Recreated from my earliest surviving site archive.]

Folsom Street: The Miracle Mile

But I thought Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills was the “Miracle Mile”…

Well, dream on. If that’s your cup of tea then you’re probably from L.A. anyway and you should probably be lurking in the Castro. For those of us in the know, it’s all about Folsom Street. It was originally nicknamed “the Miracle Mile” in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s due to the number of gay bars, bathhouses, and convenient alleys in the area from about Fifth Street to about Fourteenth Street.

This area was the center of San Francisco’s leather community then, and lots of people thought the area was downright dangerous. Fortunately, a good number of confirmed Castro types still do.

Planet SOMA has changed a lot since those days. There’s still a large leather presence here, but there is also a collection of nightspots amazing in their diversity. There’s a token heterosexual enclave on Eleventh Street, despite the presence of V/SF, the newest queer club on the block. There’s also a plethora of tecno-rave-tweaker clubs east of Seventh Street including the legendary EndUp (where Michael Tolliver won the jockey shorts contest in “Tales of the City”). Remember that club kids rarely breed out of species (if at all, given the effect of speed on the erectile system) so cruise at your own risk.

Best of all, there’s my own “Miracle Mile” which centers on the intersection of Folsom and Eighth. What can I say…I’m a bar boy, not a klub kid.

From here, you can continue studying bars or visit my cool list of sleazy sex zones.

South of Market Bar Guide (Early 1996)

Hole in the Wall Saloon (Eighth at Folsom)
Still rockin’; do not count on hearing house or techno here (thank God!). As one who was there opening night in 1994, I can honestly say it ain’t the same uncrowded little bar it once was. My love affair with the place is more off and on lately. I keep walking in on weekend nights and saying to myself “It’s happened…this bar has become the Detour” (albeit with better music). But the music is still the best.

Crowd ranges from young trendoid hipster tweakers to older bikers to career alcoholics to the occasional frightened sweater queen cowering in a corner. Unfortunately, the “look at how fabulously trendy I am” types, who really don’t get the concept are getting too prevalent. It’s a sad thing. For two years I’ve raved about this being the best bar in the city, and it still pretty much is. Recommended: weeknights and Sunday afternoon/early evening.

Opens at 6AM on weekends (including, of course, Friday and Monday).

My Place (Folsom near Eighth)
Given the crowd problems noted above, My Place is once again becoming a watering hole of choice. This spot used to be the Ramrod many years back. From what I hear, it’s not much different, despite a couple of fires and a variety of shutdowns based on what tends to go on in the back corners at times.

An absolute sleaze pit; you WILL be accosted at the urinal. Dark, cruisy, usually rotten music, and sometimes smelly. Emphasis here is on cheap sex. I LOVE IT! Sometimes the back “patio” is open. Crowd skews old, but there are usually some youngsters looking for action too. Cheap beer on Sunday nights. Look for a re-creation of the famous Chuck Arnett mural from the Tool Box, as well as an original Boot Camp sign.

Full moon parties allow you to drink cheap when the lunar cycle is right.

The Eagle (Twelfth at Harrison)
Why do leather bars insist on playing retread disco that sucked to begin with? The Eagle is popular on Saturday nights, has a well-known Sunday beer bust, and is (I guess) an institution. I hate and avoid it.

The Stud (Harrison at Ninth)
The Stud keeps trying to re-invent itself. I’m not really up on whether or not it’s succeeded on this last round. It doesn’t look like a steak house inside anymore. They still have that “preppies from the suburbs” beer bust on Wednesday nights. A recent Sunday “retro 80’s” night had a pretty large and decorative (if a little too well-scrubbed) crowd. I hear Thursdays (“White Trash”) are trying to reinvent the queer punk free for all they once were (during “Junk”). They may succeed, but I’m starting not to care. The Stud’s original location was on Folsom St.; the Arena preceded the Stud at Ninth and Folsom.

PowerHouse (Folsom between Ninth and Tenth)
OK, my honest opinion: what a tremendous waste of perhaps the best bar space on Folsom Street. More or less a leather bar, but it doesn’t quite seem to have found its niche yet. Rolling Rock is $2.75 (I’m appalled). Music: bleachhh. On Thursday, this is the spot for SissyBar, which has promise, but is suffering from a slightly schizophrenic music mix and too many pretentious “look at how pierced and trendy I am” types. I’m not a big fan, although I’ve had interesting nights there. The space is has housed many bars in the past, including the No-name, Cow Palace, and the Brig.

The Lone Star (Harrison between Ninth and Tenth)
Emphasis: bears and rock and roll. This was the first bar I entered the first time I visited San Francisco way back in those tumultuous early 1990’s, and I was amazed! Incidentally, this bar was also the site of the conception of Hole in the Wall Saloon mentioned above. Excellent patio. Good place.

The Rawhide (Seventh near Folsom)
Country music. Line dancing. This is what I moved to San Francisco to get away from. Lots of flags and mounted animal heads and stabs at “on your sleeve” patriotism. I met a cool English guy there once; we started talking because we were both bored and scared. We left.

[Recreated from my earliest surviving site archive.]

Rules to cruise by

Queers from all over the world visit San Francisco to experience a place where they can be (if only temporarily) honest and open about their sexuality. I remember being really thrilled the first time I walked through the Castro and saw the parade of fags, holding hands, kissing in public, in short, “flaunting” their sexulaity in ways that heterosexuals do and take for granted every single day.

There’s sort of an art to living in — or visiting — San Francisco to reach one’s maximum queer potential. There’s a place for everyone here; non-conformity is the norm, so you most likely will meet someone who shared your interests in some way, no matter how offbeat.

A few rules to live by:

In San Francisco, as in other major cities, there is a distinction between gay bars and gay clubs. Bars generally do not charge a cover and do not permit dancing. Clubs charge ridiculous covers, and outrageous drink prices, but if you wanna dance, you cope.

There are a few specific gay neighborhoods. South of Market (a/k/a Planet SOMA) may be the most diverse in terms of bar/club crowds. It’s definitely my favorite; I rarely venture anywhere else. The Castro has become more of a commercialized retail strip in recent years, a sort of Gay Dineyland (picture “Main Street USA”) aimed at tourists, but it’s worth a brief visit. Polk Street is definitely interesting if a bit scary on occasion.

Just because people are gay doesn’t mean they’re nice. Sorry, but it’s true. San Francisco is a big city and the gay population has its share of freaks. BE CAREFUL! There is a major substance abuse problem here (specifically that means speed and variants) which make some people downright mean and untrustworthy. Cruising can be dangerous: know your surroundings and remember that bringing a friend along is safer and can lead to interesting group gropes.

Safer sex is your responsibility. Many people here avoid it these days, whether it’s due to a sense of hopelessness or (more likely) the subsatnce abuse problems mentioned above. INSIST ON IT! It is estimated that upto half (or more) of all gay men in San Francisco are HIV-positive. Remember your odds (and don’t add to the poz population).

Drinking and driving is a really STUPID thing to do here, especially given the fact that you’re only about six bucks from anywhere by cab or twenty minutes on foot.

Yuppie career networking is frowned upon in pickup bars. Your job is not your life. Take a break from it when you go out.

In sex clubs and other places, NO MEANS NO. Be aggressive, but do not be pushy or continue pursuing a trick which just ain’t gonna happen.

The service areas in bars are for people buying drinks, not for socializing. Blocking them will get you a hard shove in most South of Market bars.

Bars have to stop serving and kick you out at 2AM; do not give the staff a hard time. The sidewalk in front will be more interesting than staying inside anyway.

[Recreated from my earliest surviving site archive.]

The “Up Your Alley”Street Fair

doresignWithout question, this is the best of San Francisco’s queer-oriented street fairs. Smaller, more intimate, and just generally more of a queer bent, the Dore Alley fair is a pretty well-kept mid-summer secret. Not to say the crowd was not large, mind you. I just find it to be a more fun crowd…fewer gawkers, etc. It’s a very sociable and friendly gathering; I was amazed what a large percentage of the people there I knew (either as friends, sex objects, or both…).

There was actually very little formal entertainment (bands, etc.) but this really didn’t seem to matter. People-watching, cruising, and “hanging out” were pretty entertaining by themselves. And the flocks of crowds at My Place and Hole in the Wall afterward were great; the “geek factor” was minimized as was the proportion of slumming trendoids and tweaker club kids.The patio at My Place made one of its rare appearances and was full of…well…nasty happenings. Your host was pleased to be able to take advantage of a friend’s slave boy near the front bar as well as a very nice boy in a kilt (not the one pictured below).

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Jeff Visits, Part 1


For my 32nd bithday weekend, I was treated to a visit by one of my best friends on the planet, Jeff Rainey from Greensboro.

Jeff showed up at a little after 2PM, on the only USAir flight in history ever to arrive early. There was shopping and boy-watching in Union Square, followed by afternoon nap time. The evening was filled with David’s excursion to the laundromat (Mr. Excitement strikes again!). Then off to the bars of Planet SOMA, where Jeff was introduced to all of David’s freak friends, and was treated to a bit of anonymous oral sex in the back of My Place. In the end, Jeff slept, and David and Tony didn’t (much).

Jeff Visits, Part 2

Sleeping continued on until 1PM or so, at which time Jeff was introduced to the joys of real Mexican food in the Mission. A little thrift shopping followed, and then there was Baskin Robbins, a drive through the hills, and a trip to one severely foggy Ocean Beach. Dan and Jeff went to dinner at Tad’s Steaks while David stayed home and wrote HTML. David had arranged a late date in an alley at 2AM (it was well worth the wait). Jeff hit the local bars, occsionally bumping into David and the date. After a couple of beers at home, Jeff hit Blow Buddies (final score 12 encounters) and David planned a last-minute birthday bash.

David Turns 32

The second of the historic west coast blackouts of 1996 occurred today, rendering grocery shopping difficult, transit unpleasant, and driving damn near impossible. The non-functional ATMs were a special added blessing. Planet Hollywood had power, although the food took so long I think it was cooked over an open butane lighter (but loved that Cap’n Crunch chicken…)

The birthday bash was…well…low-key. Let’s just say there’s lotsa beer and munchies left. That’s what David gets for planning a party at 5AM on Friday and sucking dick in an alley when he should’ve been out inviting. Jeff managed a little fun at My Place while smoking unknown subsatnces which made him dizzy. Derik was not at all pleased with the country music at the Lone Star (nor was David). After five minutes and one beer, Jeff had had enough too.

Derik and David went home (Derik being a wee tad fatigued) while Jeff trudged to Blow Buddies again: “more peering than action, but the peering was good!”. Extra points to the completely hairless boy in the jail cell (at Blow Buddies, not a real jail like where Jeff spent David’s 29th birthday).

David, being a discreet sort, will reveal no further details of his evening…

Jeff Visits, Continued

About 3:00, Jeff and David attempted to take a Market Street historic streetcar to the Castro, but settled for a bus. Jeff shopped while david whined about the complete sterilization and gentrification of the Castro. Beer at the Detour, dinner at Welcome Home (yumm…), then home for the Simpsons.

The evening progressed to the Stud for 80’s retro night (which actually was much more fun than David expected), then to the EndUp (which was as scary as David thought it would be) and back to Hole in the Wall and My Place. Quick beer at home and then off to the Power Exchange Main Station. David was most favorably impressed with the changes. Jeff was thrilled to have sex in a tent. David met a very cuddly 22-year-old tow truck driver from Sacramento. It was a late night.