PHOTOS: The Fairoaks Project
BY Mark Thompson
July 24 2010 4:00 AM ET
A day and a night at the Fairoaks could mean a lot of things. The acrid smell of popper fumes and stale marijuana smoke. The clank of an eight ball in a rear pocket, the rattle of chains. Low moans and orgasmic shouts heard over an endlessly played Sylvester tune, “Do You Want to Funk With Me?” Giggles. Grunts. And whispers. The passing drifts of another cool fog spied through a curtained bay window. The happy laughter of good friends getting together. The slapping flesh of one-time lovers lustily gettin’ it on.
Those were the times to remember, not to ever forget--as if one could in their fleeting glory. Dateline: San Francisco, 1978. Life seemed never better in this fabled City-by-the-Bay. The gay revolution was in full flower—sexy, charged with itself, admitting no shadows. This brief zenith would be over in a blink. But for the denizens of the Fairoaks Hotel and other places like it all over town, it was eyes wide-open, as if every second counted. Because they did. The ticking of the clock of youthful beauty and passion was about to chime midnight and who knew what another morning would bring?
Photographer Frank Melleno must have intuited the once-in-a-lifetime magic of the moment when he took these candid Polaroid pictures. He’d been a member of the ‘70s gay commune that went on to purchase and convert a faded but wonderfully intact Victorian apartment building on the edge of a black neighborhood into a gay bathhouse.
- WATCH: One Gay Man's Touching Plea for Equality in Utah
- Op-ed: A Second Look at Bisexuality
- South Carolina Legislators Vote to Cut University Funding for Assigning LGBT Books
- Timothy Dolan Uncomfortable as Pope Calls for Study of Civil Unions
- Low-Income Apartment Complex for LGBT Seniors Opens in Philadelphia
- Johnny and Tara at 30 Rock, Can't Stop With Play-By-Play
- Politics South Carolina Legislators Vote to Cut University Funding for Assigning LGBT Books March 09 2014 4:46 PM
- Politics WATCH: One Gay Man's Touching Plea for Equality in Utah March 09 2014 3:09 PM
- Religion Uncomfortable: Timothy Dolan Versus Pope on Civil Unions March 09 2014 3:04 PM
- Politics WATCH: Low-Income Apartments for LGBT Seniors Open March 09 2014 1:49 PM
- Comedy Johnny and Tara at 30 Rock, Can't Stop With Play-By-Play March 09 2014 1:00 PM
- Comedy 8 Movies Made Better With 'Let It Go' March 09 2014 11:50 AM
- Film Gay-Helmed Sci-Fi Film Space Station 76 Debuts at SXSW March 08 2014 8:15 PM