The 544 Natoma Performance Gallery was the City’s first openly gay performance space. It was great for edgy art, theater, music, and dance. Town and Country, my show of black and white photos, depicted the grit and spit of urban drugs and bondage juxtaposed against the sweat and stink of Russian River cowboys.
It was like having a Google Bus driven through my heart when I read the news that gay Mission bar Esta Noche was closing after 34 years. I had not been there for a while and decided to return to check out the reaction of the community.
Jim Stewart recalls The Society for Individual Rights’ Roots, and theatrical endeavors in the 1970s.
In the winter of 1983-84, Jim Cvitanich had an idea to put on an AIDS benefit variety show featuring area bartenders, since so many of them were frustrated performers. Divine had been in town with a play called ‘Women Behind Bars,’ so Jim decided we should call our show ‘Men Behind Bars.’
For a brief and fleeting time, Hot Flash became the trendiest of Castro shops, selling “Everything You Want But Nothing You Need!”
Jim Stewart recalls the first concerts performed by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, back in 1978.
To thank the crew of bartenders, bottleboys, and doormen who had hung with him through hard times, Allan threw a Thanksgiving feast at his apartment. Like Alice’s brownies, one dressing packed a wallop. One didn’t.
In the past few years a few familiar gay bars have left the scene, only to be replaced by new bars not geared toward the gay community. The list includes Marlena’s, which has become Brass Tacks. Kimo’s was replaced by Playland, Driftwood took over from Kok and (back in 2009) and Ginger’s Trois was replaced by Rickhouse. Will the hetero-zation of queer bars ever end?