Three on a Match
Another Trip to San Francisco
After my first two trips to San Francisco, I had the whole Summer to work on developing my career as an artist and videomaker. I thought about returning one more time that year to continue my studies, as it were. Halloween was coming up, and I figured that SF would be a pretty good place to spend it. I talked to Kenny and he said that he and Richard were going to the Hell Ball. I checked out the web site and it looked pretty cool.
But I wasn't sure it was the right thing to do. These weeks in SF cost a lot of money, not to mention burning up vacation days from my day job. I decided that if I got some real work accomplished while I was out there that it would make the expense worthwhile. I thought about projects I could do, and thought about things.
One thing I wanted to do was meet this webcam boy who'd caught my eye. Sean Patrick Live got me into the whole webcam thing. I was intrigued by the concept of someone having an internet camera pointed on him at all times. Sean Patrick was cute, but a little too apple pie for me. I found a guy named Rexx who had blond-streaked hair, piercings, and tatoos, and he lived in SF. I thought he was hot, and I wanted to get inside the whole webcam experience, but this guy also intrigued me for an odd reason. He had a tatoo of an imaged taken from French card game. It was called Mille Bornes, and I played it a lot as a kid. It was all specialty cards, like an Uno deck. Rather than score points you racked up miles. There were road-hazard cards, to restrain your advance, and remedy cards to get you back to racking up miles. For some reason Rexx got a tatoo of the "spare tire" remedy card from that obscure, French, automotively-oriented children's game. I wanted to meet this guy.
I'd emailed him once, long ago, and never heard back from him. I knew that if I sent him another email saying I was coming to town and wanted to meet him that he'd never respond. I considered an angle. I'm a videomaker, after all. What if I were to tell him I wanted to interview him for a video to be shown in the gay/lesbian film festival circuit. That would appeal to his exhibitionist side, and get him some good publicity.
That made me realize something. If I used the trip to get actual work done, that would make the whole excursion more justifiable. The truth was that it would, indeed, make a great subject for a short documentary. For that matter I could see if I could interview Sean Patrick as well? Maybe even others, like bMan in NYC, whom I've always had a real boner for.
I thought about other projects I could do. I knew that Biron had an in with XY Magazine's editor Peter Ian Cummings. Biron has had many pictures published in XY. I've always liked XY. It helps me stay current with the gay youth scene, and the photography is quite good. Yes I have an eye for pubescent boys in suggestive poses, but the technical quality of the photographic compositions was indeed impressive. Peter Ian Cummings was about my age, I belive, but he struck me as essentially the alpha male of the gay "Lord of the Flies" staff that put out this periodical. Every guy who worked on that magazine, at least the ones they showed pictures of, was a cute, enterprising young man.
Again, I figured that the lure of exposure on the gay/lesbian film festival circuit would be a real foot in the door. I'm sure that XY's sales would be helped at least a little. The documentary format was perfect again. I could get a total mish-mash of footage, and always be able to put something coherent together afterwards. I could just let the cameras roll and stay totally out of their way as they go about a day's business. In addition to that, I'd get to spend some time in the company of those cute, enterprising young men.
Those two projects sounded good to me, but I continued searching for more possibilities. I knew Kenny had a friend who was on ZDTV. It turned out he was the music correspondant for Internet Tonight. I caught him on a broadcast, and he looked to be a handsom man, maybe my age, who did a fine job reporting the internet music news for about 120 seconds. I didn't know how close Kenny was with him, but if he could be an in with ZDTV then maybe I could send him an idea for a new show and ask if he could tell me how to go about pitching it. I figured it was a long shot, but why not try? After a couple of days I had a great idea. It would be an hour program shown daily in the Leno/Letterman slot, or maybe the Conan hour. It would be very cheap to produce, the writing would largely take care of itself, it would be an endless showcase for the latest 3D rendering and animation technology, and I was confident that there was a significant audience in the neo-nerd ZDTV demographic with accompanying sponsor base.
I even had a fun touristy thing I wanted to do, too. I'd seen on ZDTV about the computer history museum in Silicon Valley. That would also be a great place to take a video camera. It wasn't open to the public, but could be shown by special appointment. I found the tape I recorded the story on, and noted the email address of the whoman who was the curator.
All these possibilities, plus the idea of spending Halloween in the Castro, pushed me over the edge. I decided to book my flights first to establish exactly when I'd be in town. This would allow me to make specific plans for video shoots, meetings, or a tour of the computer history museum. Still, there was something nagging me about the whole thing when I was down at AAA giving the travel agent my credit card. Something was telling me to just bag it all and save my time and money. I decided not to listen to that voice. I scheduled my flights and bought my tickets.
I decided to approach my projects in order of how ambitious each one was. I started by emailing Rexx. I wrote up a nice teaser, included my URL, and attached a photo. I've come to realize that people who get flooded with email are likely to ignore any message that doesn't have an attachment. I sent him a nice b&w with the URL printed right on it.
Next I asked Biron for contact information for XY Magazine. He gave me Peter Ian Cummings' office phone number. That was a toughie. I'm a real phone-o-phobe. I can write letters or email, I can meet people in person, but I hate to pick up a phone and try to establish a relationship in the dark. I put it off for a while until I finally just picked up the phone and called. It went directly to his voice mail. I left him a brief but complete message introducing myself as an indpendent filmmaker (okay, I stretched it), wanting to do a short documentary about XY magazine for the gay/lesbian film festivals.
That was that. Kenny gave me the email of the ZDTV guy. I didn't want to write him until I'd typed up most of the proposal document so that I could send it to him immediately if he asked for it. In the mean time I hacked away on the proposal at a snail's pace and waited for Rexx or Peter to get back to me. I didn't hear from either one. Just a day or two later I was reading the latest issue of XY where Peter was complaining bitterly that he'd been ambushed on a local TV news program. Some newscaster who had been supportive of gay rights in the past invited him to come on his show. It turned out that the guy started hurling terrible criticisms at Peter about child pornography. Peter stood his ground, but was really wounded by the whole situation. I feared that he would avoid my proposal because he thought it might be some kind of exposé or something. I called his voice mail again and left another message stating that I loved his magazine, and that I wanted to portray him and his operation in the best possible light.
More time went on. I decided to email the ZDTV guy right away because time was growing short and I had a feeling there wasn't much point in completing the proposal anyway. I wrote him saying upfront that I know his job isn't to scout out new material, but I had a proposal and I wanted his opinion on if it should even be passed on or not. I figured that was the least imposing and amateurish approach I could take. I fired off the mail file.
More time went by and I still got no responses. I considered trying to email Rexx again, but was a bit too jaundiced. I could have left more voicemail for Peter, but I still doubted that I'd hear from him. I didn't even think of following up with the ZDTV guy. I had emailed the lady from the computer history museum, and even she was ignoring me. I was striking out across the board. All of a sudden, now that I had hotel reservations and unrefundable plane tickets, I had no reason to be taking all that time and spending all that money. The only things that were remaining were the Hell Ball, and the chance of hanging out with Peter Berlin again. I figured those would have to do, because I had the choice of either eating the $550 cost of the plane tickets, or going ahead and just having a fun week in SF.
I decided I might as well do as much as I can while I'm in town. I contacted Puck and said I was heading in on a Friday. We made plans that he'd get me in to his health club overlooking the Oakland Bay Bridge the following Saturday. I contacted Andrew, who introduced me to the naked men's drawing group. He said it was still meeting, although in a new location, and everyone was excited that I could model again. Kenny and Richard agreed to pick me up at the airport, and Biron said he'd be around the whole time. Everything was set.
I packed all my stuff. I was starting to get pretty good at this. I put together my "travel survival kit" which consisted primarily of cameras, palmcorders and video tapes, CDs, magazines, and my Newton. My clothes, like on every trip, were almost nothing but blue jeans, white undershirts, and enough socks and underwear to last a week or so. Frankly my highest priority was stuff to keep me occupied on the plane. Anything else I could get once I landed, but if I wanted something and didn't have it on the plane I was shit outta luck. I wound up with two bags and my all important carry-on bag. Once I had everything zipped up and sitting by the back door I went to bed.
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