Published Dec 01, 2002San Francisco, in case you were wondering, is still there. I hadn't been in about five years, so when an art gallery owner named Javier Peres contacted me through my web site to offer me a show of my photographs there, I jumped at the chance after, of course, forcing him to write a thousand word essay on the subject of why I should consider him as my left coast gallerist. He was very convincing. A young, high-powered gay entertainment lawyer, half Jewish and half Cuban, who specialises in immigration and refugee cases, he had recently given it all up to pursue his dream of becoming an art maven. Sounds good to me: if I'm ever exiled from Canada, which seems increasingly likely, maybe he'll be able to set me up in some safe tropical haven. Like Bali.
(Speaking of Bali, and the horrible terrorist disco bombing there, I happened upon this item in the New York Post the other day: "Melanie Coene her arms badly burned made the sad trip to the morgue to identify a man she had been dancing with only hours earlier. Coene said the man didn't like Cher and left the dance floor when one of her songs was played. Minutes later, he was dead. "It cost him his life," the British woman said. "His girlfriend and I lived because we kept dancing." Like I keep telling people, beware of Cher. Believe or else!)
I'm greeted at San Francisco airport by Javier and his little Chihuahua, Xuxa, who helps him pack me into his white Land Rover Discovery. He kindly treats me to lunch, but little do I know that for the next ten days I will not be paying for a single meal or cocktail in his presence, nor will most of my friends. This kind of largesse is rare, and does not go unrewarded, if not on this earth, then in heaven. Cher herself would not dare to smite someone so generous, even for having the temerity to leave the dance floor during one of her putrid songs. He is truly the most hospitable of hosts.
I spend the beginning of my trip taking care of little details concerning the opening of my show, which he has already well hung, and getting reacquainted with my old San Francisco friends. I'm staying once again with the Gellers, MarcandKevin, an old married gay couple who share a huge old four story Victorian house on Lower Haight with a straight couple and a floating fifth roommate. It's a decidedly leftist atheist Jewish household in the grand San Francisco tradition, rankling with proactive environmentalist and socially conscious energy. Composting is de rigueur, and rewarded by the beautiful flower and vegetable garden in the backyard in front of the carriage house. Unfortunately, the jacuzzi that I have spent so many cool evenings languishing in has recently sprung a leak, but I'm hardly in a position to complain.
In MarcandKevin's computer/living room, the de facto atrium of the house, I'm set up with my own little computer upon which, after making my coffee in the morning, I retrieve and answer my email and chat with either Marc or Kevin, who are usually up by noon already smoking the first of many joints of the day, listening to some public broadcasting station. Marc, a photographer, has recently leased a cute red electric car from the Ford Motor Company, which is now threatening to discontinue the program and reclaim the environmentally friendly little vehicle. He's up in arms, and busy on the phone organising a protest in front of the local dealership. Ralph Nader may be enlisted as a speaker. It's all very San Francisco.
My dear comrade Yaroslav Mogutin, the Soviet porn star poet, has arrived in town from New York for my show, bringing with him his boy toy du moment, a very nice and handsome if somewhat temperamental young Brazilian waiter named Renatl. There are several photographs of Slava in my show, including some from our latest Platinum Oasis misadventure wherein he is wearing a pig mask covered in blood while feeding his engorged cock into the willing mouth of a cute young Canadian porn star. Just what the average art buyer wants hanging in his/her dining room. Slava, who is currently sporting a cute little Mohawk, is staying with his former sugar daddy, having recently acquired a new one a world famous costume designer who shall remain nameless in New York. It's nice to know that old sugar daddies can still be your friends.
The big night arrives, and I'm a nervous Nelly Furtado, especially when only a dozen or so people arrive at the peres-projects gallery on Bryant Street in the first half hour. But soon enough the place is packed, and will remain so for three hours. Here's Miss Vaginal Davis, visiting from L.A., her loud Watts Tower voice booming across the room. Here's Paul Foss, editor of Artext magazine. There's Brook Dillon, my dear old friend and 30-year-old pederast who once visited me in Toronto. Here's Kevin Killian, the author of the excellent novel Shy, who tells me he has a book coming out about Italian horror auteur Dario Argento, photos of whose daughter, Asia, eight-and-a-half months pregnant and smoking naked in a bathtub, hang on the walls as part of my show. It's an eclectic crowd of art patrons, hustlers, old boyfriends, and fashionistas, all getting giddy in the vertigo of the art/porn continuum. Upstairs at the gallery there is an installation consisting of a dark room with black vinyl walls housing a TV monitor showing my neo-Nazi porn movie Skin Gang. One young woman gets so excited by it that she declares that she is lactating uncontrollably. To prove her point she whips out one of her tits and squeezes it, hitting me in the face with a stream of mother's milk. (A few days later she will do the same when I run into her at the Folsom Street Leather Fair with her husband and young baby.) Other people get a little over-excited too. Three old leather queens are inspired to disrobe completely and walk around the opening buck naked. One of them, a 70-year-old granddaddy, is featuring a set of balls the size of a small melon. A cute young straight friend of Brook's insists that I photograph him being tea-bagged by the old queen, so he kneels down between his legs and plops the huge ball sack onto his forehead. Just another run of the mill LaBruce opening.
After the opening, Javier treats a dozen or so friends and associates to dinner at a German restaurant, and then we head to the Eagle, a popular leather bar, for the after party. Still later I end up with my friends at the End Up, the famous SF Crisco Disco. As we're waiting in line, a 20-something white girl with dirty blond hair pulled back in a scrunchie driving an SUV stops and rolls down her window and starts to scream bloody homophobic epithets at us homos, like "I hope all you dirty faggots die of AIDS!" Welcome to the new San Francisco. (Apparently homophobia is all the rage again, witness the recent spate of gay bashings in the previously safe gay enclave of West Hollywood. I guess we all have Will and Grace to thank for that.) I comment that maybe we should follow her, because wherever she's going, there'll probably be quite a party. Or maybe she's about to blow up our disco, home-grown terrorist-style, in which case we're all doomed, because none of us will be dancing to Cher.
Unfortunately I end up getting caught snorting coke with two cute young friends of Brook's on the patio of the End Up, and end up being unceremoniously 86'd. I didn't much like the place anyway. Too circuit-y. I end up going home and calling up the Muslim in Toronto, who is set to move back to Africa in a couple of days. Crying ensues.
Next month: Frisco Part Deux