On my second visit to San Francisco in the summer of 1972 i discovered a new gay leather bar called the No Name, 1347 Folsom @ Dore Alley. I enjoyed it so much that when i took a couple of graduate courses at UC Berkeley in the summer of 1973, i drove frequently to San Francisco to cruise in this bar. (For those unfamiliar with gay jargon of the seventies, to “cruise” meant to shop for tricks. Umm, and “tricks” meant pick-up sex partners, whether singly or in groups.) And of course when i lived in San Francisco in the summer of 1974 while taking the intensive Spanish course at UC Berkeley, i dropped in on the No Name most nights. And then, when i moved to San Francisco in the summer of 1975, it was my bar of choice.
So it’s no surprise that when it changed names to the Bolt in 1977-78, i kept going there, and when it became the Brig 1979-85, continued. That’s where i met almost all my gay friends. See, in those days, virtually all gay men went to the gay bars to cruise since that was overwhelmingly the best place to pick up tricks because almost everyone in the bar was there for that reason. The bars were like splendid supermarkets in which you could buy anything you wanted. Well, if you had sufficient coinage in the form of looks, body, and personality to purchase a particular item.
And then if you both had a good time, you exchanged phone numbers and then sometimes had repeat tricks and then finally some of the tricks became friends. Since the number of tricks you turned was so large, for most of us hundreds and for many, thousands, you ended up with a hundred friends. Most of them you didn’t see all that often because you were too busy tricking, but still, the huge number of friends we all had was a major contributor to the solidarity we exhibited when the AIDS epidemic struck.
But i’ve digressed. I was writing about Gazelle, which i should go ahead and mention was in the early 1980’s the name of a line of men’s swim trunks, shorts, tee shirts, and ahem, intimate wear. Most especially thongs. And not those dinky little things that squished you down to as little as possible. Oh no, Gazelle’s were generous, with lots of room.
So one night i was out at the Brig and negotiating with this visitor from New York who seemed extraordinarily interested in me, which was a major turn-on even though he was not especially attractive or well built. And then it came out that he owned Gazelle, and i mentioned that i’d bought a couple of his thongs. His response? “They’re selling like hotcakes”, which somehow so delighted me that i took him home.
How was he as a trick? Ummm, i’ll just say he was well dressed, which is not the savage put-down that it might seem, as i did have an “interest” in dressing. Perhaps even a “thing”.