Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Jessica Clark, longtime Castro retail employee, dies


Jessica Clark at the former Skin Zone store late last year. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Jessica Clark, an employee of the former Skin Zone store in the Castro, was found dead in her San Francisco apartment Saturday, December 9. She was 62.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner's office has performed an autopsy, but a spokesman said Tuesday that the cause of death has not been determined. Friends and former colleagues said that Ms. Clark was diabetic.

Andy Schwartz, who employed Ms. Clark at the Skin Zone for several years, said that she would be missed.

"I miss her already," he said. "She was incredibly duteous and devoted to her job."

Schwartz had to let Ms. Clark go when he closed the Skin Zone last December, and began selling products online. Since then, she struggled to find work, said Peter Isgro, who had hired her to work in his antique store on Sacramento Street.

"Jessica had 25 years experience in retail and couldn't get a job," Isgro said. "In liberal San Francisco, she couldn't get a job outside the Castro."

According to Isgro, Ms. Clark used to work at and later owned a dry cleaning business in the Castro, and then worked at a liquor store for many years before working at the Skin Zone.

Ms. Clark was transsexual, and Schwartz said that she transitioned on her own, apparently without family support or health insurance.

"She was devoted to that task and completed the process," he said.

Ms. Clark's friend Cloud Galanes-Rosenbaum was one of the people who found her body last weekend. After friends couldn't reach her for several days, Isgro and others figured out where she lived. Galanes-Rosenbaum and Alex Goldenberg went to her apartment. When no one answered the door, the manager opened it, and Ms. Clark's body was found on her bed, Galanes-Rosenbaum said.

"No one could reach her for four or five days," said Galanes-Rosenbaum. "We grew concerned."

"She really had a way of spotting the slightest sadness in a person and would want to make a person feel better," Goldenberg said. "She called herself the 'Mother of Castro Street' and was very nurturing to everyone."

Galanes-Rosenbaum pointed out that Ms. Clark was "sainted" by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. A Bay Area Reporter article in January about the closure of the Skin Zone noted Ms. Clark was named the "Patron Saint of Gender Identity," and Galanes-Rosenbaum said that Ms. Clark was given the formal name "Saint Mariposa Ambrosia."

Neil Jacob Rosenbaum, an attorney and longtime friend of Ms. Clark's, said that he has been in contact with some of Ms. Clark's family members. Rosenbaum, the father of Galanes-Rosenbaum, said he had known Ms. Clark for two decades, since she managed the dry cleaning business.

"She was at the house for Thanksgiving," Rosenbaum said.

"She was the kindest, warmest person in the world," Isgro said.

Ms. Clark was born in Ohio and worked there as a disc jockey. She had been married and had two children, although their whereabouts are unknown, friends said.An informal memorial is planned for Friday, December 15 at 8 p.m. at 18th and Castro streets. Donations for a memorial fund for her can be made to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, 584 Castro Street, PMB 392, San Francisco, CA 94114.

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