by Jim Stewart
November means elections. They’re not always filled with donkeys and elephants supported by super PACs finagling to deceive. Sometimes they’re beefcake elections that stimulate the libido and satisfy the soul. Sometimes they pit Gay Bar v. Gay Bar.
During the 1970s the California Motor Club held its popular fall charity carnival to elect Mr. CMC in the Marine Labor Union building on Fremont Street, fondly known as Seaman’s Hall. The CMC Carnival wasn’t the only beefcake election in town.
In 1975, the Acme Brewing Company of San Francisco sponsored the Acme Man ‘75 contest. Their souvenir program featured 30 shirtless hotties sponsored by various gay bars. From that Acme Man election, bar owners made money, Acme beer sales in gay bars increased, and the Society for Individual Rights (S.I.R.), a gay community-building organization, reaped the benefits of the ticket sales. The following year, however, Acme no longer wanted their beer brand coupled with the “fag” bar brand. Threats of a boycott canceled Acme Man ’76.
Once upon a November, Allan Lowery, my boss and owner of the Leatherneck bar at 11th Street and Folsom, asked me to get out my Nikon and take a few shots of Max Morales for a Mr. CMC poster. Over a few lines and a couple of beers in his office we discussed the details.
“How much should we spend?” Allan said.
“On the posters?” I said.
“No! How much should the Leatherneck kick in to make Max Mr. CMC?”
“That’s how it works?” I said. I’d envisioned individual carnival-goers stuffing their monetary votes into their candidate’s, ah… ballot box, sort of like tipping the stripper boys who dance on the bar. It sounded a lot more fun then some Super PAC buying the election.
“It’s all for charity,” Allan said.
So on a Sunday in November, I walked through the second floor entrance doors of Seaman’s Hall into a world Lewis Carroll could never have imagined down any rabbit hole. The place was packed. The music was loud. Its beat matched the rhythm of heavy sex. Mr. CMC candidates were onstage, seducing the crowd.
I stuffed my measly monetary vote in Max’s cardboard ballot box and headed for the bar. I ordered a beer, a long-neck Oly. The air was heavy with the ripe aroma of male sweat, pot, and poppers, all overlaid with tobacco smoke and booze.
A roar from the crowd turned my head. One candidate, his muscled, oiled torso strapped into a leather body harness, dominated the stage. He played to his audience of cheering leatherfolk, air-fucking to the edge of the stage and back.
Then back again, at the edge of the stage, he popped his well-endowed tool from its black leather toolbox and sprayed his sacred juices over those below. The crowd went wild! Men surged forward to lap the precious liquid from sweating chests and bellies.
I edged my way down the packed stairs to a raw first floor man-cave. As if staged for a Pier Paolo Pasolini film, a stand-up orgy stretched before me. Booths around the perimeter offered services for hire, for charity. One provided free manicures prior to four-bit fistings. I bumped into Allan.
“Did Max win?” I said.
“No,” Allan said. “Neither did the air-fucker.”
Big bucks had backed the winner.
After cruising the crowd, getting a good buzz on, and having been sexually satiated several times, I left, a happy man who had done his duty and cast his vote, for charity.
Each year the CMC crowd grew. Rental fees increased. Lawsuits were feared. Insurance became required. The CMC Carnival was last held at Seamen’s Hall in 1978.
Copyright 2012 Jim Stewart. For further true gay adventures check out the award-winning Folsom Street Blues: A Memoir of 1970s SoMa and Leatherfolk in Gay San Francisco by Jim Stewart.
- BARchive: Halloween, 1978
- BARchive: Leathernecking
- BARchive: The Lost Bars
- BARchive: Tri-ing Times
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