DECEMBER 2, 1997
Thank you for the February 1997 article by Tim Kelley on the New Gay Community Center at 1800 Market Street. Although the fate of the Victorian is yet to be decided, I am compelled to reveal a most colorful page in the building's history.
While living on the top floor from 1978 until 1992, I collected a paper trail of letters, posters, playbills and announcements that show the building as a crossroads for some memorable people from our community.
When I moved in (Nov. 1, 1978), the ground floor housed a gay owned copying business on the corner and a gay newspaper at #3 Waller called the Kalendar. Two retired nurses lived on the middle floor and the top flat was home to several gentlemen, including Dick Jaycox, who ran a counseling service and artist Bob Campbell with his stained glass studio called Clearlight.
I set up my studio on the top floor over the front door and worked there on many projects such as the mural I painted with John Wherle for the City of San Francisco, of a building rising from the rubble of a shattered building at Turk and Hyde (the old 222 Club).
Other projects I designed there include the now removed lobby murals of the Mark Hopkins, designs for OZ at the Saint Francis and designs for Steve Silver's (Beach Blanket Babylon). The set designs conceived there for Theater Rhinoceros include: The Aids Show - Unfinished Business, 5th of July, Dear Love of Comrades, Forever After, Powerlines and Pogey Bait, for which I won the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle award. Gay playwrights and actresses Terry Baum (Lilith Theater) and Alice Thompson (Sharpened Spoons Theater and my high school prom date) were regulars at 1802 Market, and created the long-running play, Dos Lesbos. Other theater people to use the space were actors Chuck Solomon (Coming of Age), Joe Capetta, Charlie Hufford, Alan Herman, C.D., Arnold and David Baker, to name a few.
It was not unusual for counseling sessions on stress management, sex, or financial stability to be taking place in one part of the house, a play reading or rehearsing of lines in another while sets were being prepared out on the roof of the 1808 Club or on the sidewalk on Waller Street. For seventeen years roommate Dexter Price ruled the kitchen.
Working close with friend, Alan Estes (Founding Director of Theater Rhinocerous, we helped Kevin Hanlon, Raleigh Waugh and Lanny Bangniet grow from the 330 Grove Street Center to the Goodman Building and then the Redstone.
In 1983, Gay playwright, Dan Turner, conductor Joseph Deruggieris, sound tech, Randall Schiller and I helped Pat Montandon stage Goddess at the Palace of the Legion of Honor Little Theater to benefit "Children as Teachers of Peace" and the Round Table Foundation. Those sets were built and painted on the roof of the 1808 Club along with giant decorations and sets for the Lily Street Fair, held a couple of blocks away. Other sets and posters were done for the Gay Softball League working with 1802 Market regular, Bobby De Tubio, and The Great Tricycle Race with the Mint's Danny Wong and Brad Cavalier.
Empress Sable Clown would drop by to discuss her campaign. Much of the campaign to elect Simeon as Emperor came out of 1802 and the studio we rented on 14th Street, where we built the sets for the coronation "Last Waltz" for the Gift Center Pavilion.
Other friends to come and go through the Fallon Building were Alan Greenspan (the Mad Hatter of Beach Blanket Babylon), actors, Rodney Price, Pristine Condition, Martin Xero, Sandal Herbert, Silvana Nova, Marc Huestis, Doris Fish and Miss X.
At our April Fools parties and art shows that included artists Steve Shuck, Eric Feighner and Michael Shiell, you might encounter our neighbor, gay historian Alan Berube, painter Jim Leff, artist William Passerelli, photographer Rink, designers Clive Kahan and Jerry Van Slambrouck, Joseph Vincent, Doug Franks and Paul O'Malley from the City AIDS Office and many more.
Often over to work or play was artist Mark Kadota (art teacher at the De Young Museum school and my high school "buddy") and painter Tony De Rosa, both of whom exhibited at the Ambush and many other alternative sites.
Maybe the most memorable project to be generated from 1802 Market during the '80's was Green Torpedo Graphics. This group including roommates, Bob Campbell and Bob Stinebaugh, along with Casper Curto, and Joe Caplett, produced nostalgic greeting cards of San Francisco, landmarks and a series of trolley posters. The official Historic Trolley Festival of 1983 shows 1800 Market somewhere between the Castro Theater and City Hall.
I have tried to give you a picture here of how the Fallon Building served our community and, although I have not listed all of those who came up that unusually twisted staircase, I hope a few of your readers will find these memories of interest.