BARchive :: The Slot

  • by Jim Stewart
  • Sunday September 29, 2013
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In 1976, before the Folsom Street Fair became the iconic festival it is today, among the bars, baths, and blue-collar joints South of Market, at 979 Folsom Street, stood the South-of-the-Slot bathhouse.

Built in 1906 and licensed as a hotel, the Slot's three stories catered to homomasculine concupiscence. The Slot was for those who kept their fingernails clipped short and carried a can of Crisco. It was for men who knew their way through minefields of drugs and implements of pain and pleasure.

"Want to go to the Slot Saturday?" Sheldon said.

"What's happening?" I said. I'd planned on salooning Saturday night.

"I'm going to shave John's head," he said. John Ely was Sheldon's latest boyfriend.

"Can I bring my Nikon?" I asked.

"I don't care," Sheldon said, "as long as Tony doesn't mind."

Tony Tavarossi was Slot manager for owner Jack Haines. This was back in the day when undercover vice cops could end careers and ruin lives. But it was arranged with Tony. The camera stayed in the room on the second floor. You entered the room, you took your chances.

Word spread; a head-shaving at the Slot; a sexual happening in a private room; indoor street theater.

Jack Fritscher, in room 326 - his Saturday night pied-a-terre - with Russ Van Leer, came down to the second floor, saw what was happening, and called David Sparrow to join. Steve Prokaski walked by the open door, saw me, and joined us.

Voyeurs peeked in, liked what they saw, and joined the gathering. Each made the event unique. There was Sheldon with barber tools and John with a head itching to be shaved; Jack in his Air Force jump suit, pocket-loaded with toys; Russ with his special suppositories; Steve, All-American boy, in a baseball cap; and watching just inside the door were buff voyeurs with big tools, practicing their own version of S&M: Standing & Modeling.