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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in z.com. [00:00:03] My name is Dan Nicoletta, and I'm [00:00:09] a photographer who has devoted his life to documentation of the lesbian, gay bisexual transgender journey primarily here in San Francisco. I'm now 58, I think or 59. And I was born on December 23, 1954, [00:00:28] in New York City, New York. However, we move to the place I grew up, which is upstate New York. The city is called Utica, New York. And that is where I lived most of my childhood years. And I left there [00:00:48] around age 17, and a half to study photography in college. [00:00:55] But primarily those for 17 years were spent in Utica, which is a big city, but it's fairly rural in atmosphere. [00:01:04] What photography [00:01:08] I mean, I was always a creative. [00:01:12] And I did start photography through the yearbook in junior year of high school. Although prior to that my life was full of Instamatic moments. My parents were snapshot enthusiasts. So it was very much an element of my upbringing. And and so in the yearbook project, photography captured my imagination. However, before that, I was already doing super eight films. So I was really drawn to filmmaking more than photography, but then, through the yearbook, I started to gain an appreciation for still photography as well. [00:01:52] What is it about visual medium? [00:01:55] Um, I seem to have a natural [00:01:59] gift with it, like torture and people. And [00:02:04] we did this really cool year book, which was very poetic for a year book. I mean, it was really kind of a hip thing using rock music lyrics. And then, you know, I, my candidates are in there along with the sort of formal standby the yearbook guy. And so it was a cool thing in the sense that you sort of started to realize the creative potential of bookmaking. [00:02:30] And I guess this was a time when we're obviously talking film, not digital. So the way that you photograph must have been quite different from nowadays. [00:02:40] Yeah, no, I actually only converted to digital in 2008. So I'm a late bloomer in that respect. [00:02:47] So back when, what were some of the considerations for your photography, [00:02:53] I right away, which is still true. Today, I, I was drawn to the theatrical in life. The humorous, and [00:03:04] this had something to do with the fact that the other artistic endeavors that were cultivated in my family in my household was theater and show business because my mom was a dancer, and she encouraged us kids to be in place and put on place. And so there was always a theatrical dimension to my upbringing. And [00:03:27] that was translated into my own craft, in terms of how it was to express that I certainly didn't want to be an actor, even though I dabbled. But photography felt right, because you could sort of be with theatrical people, and not have to go through the motions of memorizing the script, or all of that happy horseshit. [00:03:52] So what kind of photos were you shooting? [00:03:55] Well, in in high school, it was exclusively the yearbook. Because filmmaking was so dominant for me that I was actually shooting films, I want to codec teenage Movie Award. And after that, and it was a silly little piece of paper from Kodak and two free rolls of super eight film, but boy, you couldn't stop me at that point. And I was going to have my sights set on Hollywood, and I was going to be a filmmaker of note. And so I made about a half a dozen super eights in high school. And they were both live narrative with real people as actors and animation. I did some additive animation in high school as well. And, and so I I set my sails to Kansas City Art Institute for my first year of college. However, they wouldn't let us study film directly in the first year, they had something called foundations, which is ultimately ultimately multi disciplined, home base for you know, launching whatever your area of specialty would be becoming a sophomore year. And, you know, but I still even manage to parlay those assignments into film projects. So I think I created another three or four films. In my year a case well, let's see Casey, I, I probably did one or two films. And then my sophomore year, which was out here, I transferred to California, Colorado College of Arts in Oakland. And [00:05:27] I did film and video and I did another three or four films there. And then I moved to Castro Street serendipitously in August of 1974. And I continue to work on some films that I started in Oakland. And I cultivated a [00:05:53] sort of exalted epic biographical film, which [00:05:59] depicted my developing romance with San Francisco because it was, you know, when you first came here, and you were 20 years old, and, you know, you're just like, this is where I'm going to live the rest of my life. You know, you want to kind of express that creatively. So I made this film and, and the first week, I moved to Castro Street, I stopped in the Castro camera, which was Harvey Milk's camera store, to see where I would be processing my super eight film and, and the first day I walked in both guys, were there, Harvey and Scott, and they were super, super friendly. And I thought, Oh, my God, this is definitely where I'm going to do business. You know, these guys are great. You know, and I just, I walked out that day, and I was, I couldn't quite put my finger is like that God, they're so super, super friendly. Of course, I was being cruised by Harvey and I had no idea. You know, that was the level of night naivete. I had at that point, however, I was, I did move to Castro Street with same sex romantic partner. So we we got an apartment with another roommate, just one block up the street at Castro at 19th, 639. [00:07:09] Castro, I think was the address. So I was not quite out. And I wasn't completely clueless, but I still was that sort of forming identity, where you're, you wouldn't necessarily know the difference between being cruised and somebody who was super friendly, you know, like it was that kind of innocence, you know. [00:07:31] So coming out as a gay man was was kind of being gay industry for you, or was it just something that was natural and just kind of evolved, [00:07:40] I wish, unfortunately, I was sort of classic self tortured, [00:07:46] self hating, trying to stop being homosexual. And that had something to do with being raised Catholic, but more to do with [00:07:58] just not really having any very much exposure. You know, I, I met my first gay people in the years prior to moving to San Francisco. And fortunately, I met these folks because they were great. But they were in the New York City area. And so that was the same time next year relationship with this constellation of gay men Lyft in a squat, actually in Brooklyn. And it was such a great stroke of luck for me to encounter these folks and became sort of boyfriends with one of them and, but I would go back to you to get on the train. And just be completely mortified, you know, that here, I was living this double life. And, you know, [00:08:48] maybe I'm not supposed to be this thing. [00:08:52] And so I was pretty tortured, you know, and, and so by the time I moved to my first year of college, I was totally closeted. I think I had one sexual male to male sexual experience at the end of the year, which was a positive experience, maybe two, I'm actually one. And then I really reunited with one of those guys later, that I met who was somewhat out. Ironically, I hung out with all these people who were very Fey, but none of them were out. And they were all kind of like, gay escape can be but they were not practicing homosexuals, it was the weirdest thing. You know, it was like, we had the wild table in the back of the cafeteria. And, you know, and it's just, I guess, the best memory from that period of my life is, we all went to a party in town, and [00:09:48] and there was this really sort of lovely, you know, sharp looking woman. And so I was sitting on her lap and dancing and just kind of like having a gay old time with her. We got back to the dorm, and my friends were busting at [00:10:03] the gun labor like [00:10:05] girl. My, they didn't say girl, because they weren't out. But they were like, [00:10:10] you were you were sitting on the lap of that tranny. And I'm like, What? Excuse me, [00:10:16] I had no idea that it was not a real email, well, whatever. I don't even know if she was transsexual or transvestite at this point. But I was that, you know, is that kind of, like, innocent, you know? So, and then, to those guys, many years later came out, you know, so that was kind of cool. And very intuitive that we all found each other. You know, even though we couldn't allow ourselves to be gay, this is 1973 through 74, and then I moved to San Francisco, and I meet my lover, as May, California College of Arts. And he various very gentle with me, teaching me self respect, and how to not rush that process. But you know, just like, you know, look around you, there's people who are co creating community here. And we understand, you know, your fragility, but it's sort of useless model. Somebody was, you know, the he was and then of course, I met Harvey and Scott. And they were similarly [00:11:26] gentle with my tentativeness. But also we're very much like, Look around you, you know, and, and that was what was happening as you couldn't walk down the street to go light, to go buy a loaf of bread without Castro Street being this incredible array of [00:11:45] public display of affection. And people were very, you know, sort of forthcoming that way. There was it was a big kissing and hugging fest just to go buy a loaf of bread really. And you know, and people are co creating community on a deeper level, like there's potluck, and there are theater companies, and we started the first gay Film Festival then I was also in a coffee klatch that was all gay photographers. And I was in another group that was all gay videographers, and, [00:12:16] and theater and I was I jumped right into two different theatre companies and basically worked with both of them for many, many years after that, [00:12:26] so in the space of a couple of years, you've gone from a location where gay was on the singers and other into to being gay kind of all encompassing. [00:12:37] Yeah, yeah, no, it really was a very [00:12:42] instantaneous conversion, because I I think I moved to Castro Street in August of 74. And I'd say bye. [00:12:55] Later that year, I'm, I'm putting together this film that I think talked about, which was this biographical [00:13:05] Valentine's to my, my developing romance with San Francisco, and there was the same sex kiss depiction in that. So I had already kind of dispensed with the insecurities and pretty much join the ambulance that was outside my front door, you know, and, and, and, and as well, my sexual rite of passage, I mean, we were crossing those bars, and I was picking up lots of men. So I was getting to enjoy the fruits of the community on that level two, and it was pretty exciting. [00:13:35] How does it work? If you've had that kind of self loathing for so many years to suddenly have that dramatic shift? In terms of, you know, [00:13:44] it's a completely different mindset, isn't [00:13:47] it? You know, it it's so as you know, of course, on the local level, it's instantaneous, and it's completely transforming and, and freeing. However, I took my time coming out to my parents. So I think they eventually came to visit me at the camera store where I was a year later hired as an employee. And even then, I wasn't necessarily quick to point out to them that [00:14:14] I was working. I was getting that I was working for these two gay people. But I mean, you know, it would be readily apparent and and then when I look back at the letters that I wrote back home during those first couple years in the Bay Area, I'm you can see me hinting like, Oh, Mom and Dad, there's this this great big party every year called the Castro Street Fair. And you know, like, circumnavigating, the nitty gritty, but so I wasn't classic in the sense that I wasn't one of those fired up, Come out, come out, come out. And of course, the Come out, come out come out, really hadn't happened yet. Because it needed Bryant hadn't happened yet. And, you know, that's 77. That's like a year later. And she forms the legislation in Florida, which would repeal [00:15:04] anti discrimination legislation protecting gays in employment. And that is sort of a it's a turning point in the US for [00:15:15] sort of excellent party communities, whether it's the Castro or Fire Island, or wherever else there, they're springing up, and there's very few at that point. But there is this idea of a gay ghetto occurring. And, and as soon as she wears her ugly head, everybody's awake, awakes to what this really hit what is really, you know, the future here? So, you know, I think I'm a little more fired up at that point, Harvey, certainly, yes. And I, you know, [00:15:52] I think they were great in the sense that they never pushed people into coming out, even though there was a verbal ization of the necessity for it. They, you know, right there within their own sort of home framework, they were very gentle about that, and there was no requirement to come out. So that's an interesting detail in the sense that, I think it is a personal decision. And they they respected that, even though there was a call to action, there was respect for personal decision making on that, [00:16:25] in those first couple of years, being in the Castro, how did that change or affect your creative output? [00:16:32] Um, it was, it was [00:16:36] exploding, you know, there was [00:16:39] such a synergy. The Castro, in a sense, is the geographical center of San Francisco. And it really was this epicenter of creativity, political [00:16:53] activism, it was my initiation into electoral politics. [00:16:58] It was my initial into freelance photography, so still photography. So my initiation into business conducting business. [00:17:11] And so there was this economic component that was, you know, part of my identity that was forming, there was a sexual component. So it really was like a candy store and away, you know, it was like, [00:17:23] everything that a creative individual in their early 20s would want, it was available to me and, and, you know, I already had a kind of type a wiring where I really was so hungry for to become successful film director that I just went for it with gusto. I was, like I said, I was involved in, you know, five different sort of, and working a full time job at the camera store, which in and of itself was this creative entity, you know, because the campaigns that were being fostered there were very done very creatively. [00:18:02] So how did that joke [00:18:05] they you know, they took a shining to me, I was a customer and unlike many customers, we hung out, you know, we would drop off our film, but then we'd sit on the big armchair and shoot the shit for as long as we could get away with and, and then a year later, they they signaled me and Harvey have this really serious tone in his voice, and he said, We need to talk to you. And I was like, Oh, my God, what's up? And so he sat me down, and he said, We Scott, and I want you to come work for us, we would like you to work in the camera store. I'm mentoring my second supervisor oil campaign, and we want you to be the extra pair of hands around the store. So I left that day, like 10 feet off the ground, you know, and I already loved that place. And I was already you know, a hanger outer and [00:18:55] and I had been working really shitty jobs. Not that you cared back then because because you're just so happy to be in San Francisco, but to to to land employment in Castro camera was such a godsend because it was better money. I was right where I wanted to be, you know that I was right in the heart of where I wanted to be. Anyway, I was meeting all these freelance photographers and filmmakers. We started the film, the gay Film Festival out of that store, which is the one that's now [00:19:24] this is fine lines. Yeah, yeah. [00:19:27] Yeah, it's dated from our festival, basically, which was a super eight showcase. But they they have created the lineage from that point forward. So which is now coincidentally, I believe it's the biggest per capita Film Festival in California. [00:19:47] People take their vacations to come here. We show films from 30 different countries every year, for 11 days. And [00:19:57] that started out of that coffee clutch. [00:20:01] It's a beautiful thing, because we really didn't. We didn't think that far now. We we we understood that what was happening synergistically, especially when there was conflict, in anti gay legislation. We understood that what was happening was history making but we would have never dreamt that it would be one of the successes would be this incredible Film Festival, which now is an amazing tool for, you know, changing hearts and minds on the LGBT paradigm. [00:20:36] In your creative output at that time, did you ever feel constrained by [00:20:42] feelings of censorship, or I can't show that or I can't portray this? [00:20:48] In a we had a couple [00:20:51] sort of volatile films in the early festivals. And I think I was because I was a sort of a cockeyed optimist. And I and I still am, but I was very, I mean, if, if you look at my films, they're hardly avant garde, they're actually want to be Hollywood films. They're very exalted. And, you know, they're kind of goofy in that respect. But you know, I was definitely pursuing this narrative track. And there were people that were doing experimental things, which were, you know, poking fun at a needle Bryant and were more in the spirit of Andy Warhol. [00:21:31] But I didn't feel that inclined to do sort of flow, amatory work, inflammatory work, but people were and we did show it. But we didn't shirk from that. And then the theater I was doing was much more edgy. And so it wasn't that it was lost on me. But there in the theater context, I wasn't writing, I was just documenting. So it's sense my own voice is much more moderate. And I [00:22:07] didn't really feel compelled to censor myself to my knowledge. [00:22:13] Yeah, I think in a sense, I was searching, searching and was pretty much waiting for what that that message might be. [00:22:25] I don't recall. [00:22:28] I mean, that the you know, everywhere, you know, not unlike the public display of affection everywhere around you are. The message is exhibitionism and self gratification and self exploration. And there's, there's actually no recoiling at this point. For those first few years. It's pretty much on fire, you know, in alignment moderate innately, you know, [00:22:58] and Holly was taking photographs, as well, mostly at this point. What was he photographing, [00:23:03] he was photographing less than less than sense. His his, the richness of his body of work predates the camera store. Because they had a couple of road trips, they moved to California, they had a couple of road trips. [00:23:19] He's a free agent at that point. He's not working for wall street, they're kind of doing the, the, [00:23:28] what he call it, unemployment insurance thing where they're getting unemployment checks, and they're just traveling and playing. And so you see a lot of beach shots of his boyfriend's You see, shots of his dog, you do see an attempt at creativity. [00:23:46] And he is he's, he's, he's avid I mean, there's a lot of material, there's trays and trays of slides from those years. But then as soon as he opens the store that tape a backseat to this political ideation, that's starting to show up. [00:24:06] He did still shoot, like, there's this one of me that I just adore. And it's so great, because he only shot me those those two frames, for some reason, those are the only two shots that Harvey took me. But they're incredible. They're him experimenting with a roll of infrared film. So they're just these amazing pictures of me. And, and then Scott was also a very avid photo enthusiasts. So they would do things like they would shoot the street fairs, although they couldn't shoot the second annual street fair because it was organized out of the store. And that was a full plate for them. In fact, that was my first freelance gig gig because they that was my first day of work at the store. But because I didn't know film prices, they said, Okay, here's three roses, like them go out and document the fair. So in principle, that was my first freelance gig. And that was pretty exciting, because, you know, I got to photograph theatre people and drag queens and all the things that I liked anyway. So to be able to get paid for that was kind of cool. [00:25:12] What a fantastic for your study. [00:25:14] Yeah, yeah. So um, yeah, I mean, they, [00:25:20] they continued to photograph all throughout those years of the campaigns, but it became less and less possible. The perfect example of that. [00:25:32] attachment to creative art making by both of them [00:25:39] is, in my mind's eye, Well, two things. One is that Harvey, like many of us, one of the ways that [00:25:50] our [00:25:52] homosexual ideation is his presence in the real world is through portrait, what's up our loved ones, male to male, you know, sort of appreciation of male beauty and, and bonding. And if you look at Harvey's body of work, you see that all throughout right up through jack lira. There's this beautiful series that he shot of jack at the ocean, which I printed for him. And, [00:26:18] and so you he fortunately, would take a break enough to return to that the occasional day trip to the beach with the latest boyfriend and a photographic essay on him. And that's a, that's a real key place to land for me because it shows me two things that he had the wisdom to create [00:26:44] recreational time for himself. And even though that the campaigns were incredibly overwhelming, and probably somewhat oppressive. [00:26:54] And then I think when you look at all those pictures throughout, one of the things that you can do still is that the really what might even be the fundamental reason for Harvey's politicization, which is a very profound sense of indignation that I cannot safely and serenely have this enjoyment in life without culture bearing down on me telling me that it's wrong. So what you see is this real sort of specialized, sacred [00:27:31] compartmentalization of male to male bonding. And to me that's like very much at the core of why he decides to do something about the inability to do that. And so I think I've always whenever I do my presentations, I always present that as my thesis that male male to male bonding is the first order of business with Harvey, he is has this profound sense of indignation, that he cannot do it in culture. And he is going to commit him his life to transforming that and does and, and then he [00:28:07] raped before he was killed. He, he had ingratiated this very previously very homophobic businessman down the block, the guy that ran the [00:28:22] mechanic shop a couple doors down. And that guy when when they first came to the neighborhood was a homophobe. But of course, unsuspecting gays didn't really know that so he they would go there and have their cars fixed. And this guy started making serious bank and he got he got religion because he realized the economic cloud of the gay community. And Harvey knew something about this guy's availability on that level. And little by little started to break down his homophobia. And he did it through joke telling. And so before long, this guy was coming, coming over to the store with the latest jokes, and Harvey was stopping over at the mechanic shop with the latest jokes and they became good friends. And that guy, towards the end of Harvey's life, had the opportunity to go up in an airplane. When Christos did his running fence in Marin County, which is this epic art installation and, and those kind of things, movies and sort of cultural trends that were really sort of cool, had high coolness factor, those were very much another thing that Harvey and Scott utilize to sort of anchor themselves in, it's all worth it, you know, [00:29:39] he got to go up in that plane and photograph Christmas fence from the air and came back with you know, several rolls his slides and was just like, so excited about that work. And it was one of the last times that he got to have that sort of creative rest bites. So he had it. He had he considered himself an artist to be sure. And of course, they had a rich theater and Off Broadway history, so that that was already solid there for them. [00:30:08] So when you started with the camera shop, what was hobbies status in the Castro community? Can you recall how other people thought of them? [00:30:20] Um, you know, I came after the first campaign I wasn't here or involved in the first campaign. And he already had a regular column in the BTR, which was the gay rag. It was a little sort of street corner paper, not with the significance that it has today. But he utilized that as a sort of puppet. And I, I was marginally aware of him having recognition and visibility. through that. I was marginally aware that he was disliked. [00:31:02] But you know, I think, synergistically because he kept on being engaged, particularly in that neighborhood and the neighborhood politics. [00:31:14] He, he won people over and the best example of that is, there was a there was a one. Well, there was one last hurrah for police harassment, and it was a memorial day weekend, probably circa 1974. And, and, you know, [00:31:35] maybe seven or eight dozen guys would line up on Castro Street at bar closing or even on a sunny Saturday afternoon, two crews. And the cops came in and systematically arrested either 11 or 14 of them. And so they became known as the Castro 14 and, and then there was so much organizing in the neighborhood at the time, that a community meeting was called with a police liaison to basically complain about this behavior on the part of the San Francisco Police. And, and they filled a basketball auditorium and a school. That was the thing I did the revisionist I got the building wrong. [00:32:19] Anyway, so I go, you know, and young Danny goes into this room to check this situation out. And it's Packed to the Rafters with angry angry citizens. And the most vocal is Harvey and Scott. And they're like, they're things are popping out of their neck, and they're yelling at the top of their lungs. And so, you know, it's just like, what was the original thread on that? What was the question? [00:32:46] How is hobby saying bye? Yeah, [00:32:49] yeah. So So there you see small victory, you know, like, somehow he emerges as a champion, because he's out there. And you know, those kinds of things start to turn heads and people are like, oh, maybe he has been so crazy, you know, because originally the sort of status quo gays really didn't like him. [00:33:13] And that can't that continue to be an issue all throughout. But [00:33:20] little ladies loved him, you know, cuz he stopped and he talked to them, you know, and and there was always some buddy coming in with some kind of drama, like, you know, he was very happy to see was a big codependent. He was very happy to sit down, sit you down, if you just broke up with your boyfriend and that scene and milk where he does that with Cleve Jones is at the very least, metaphorically true. I don't know if Cleve actually had a breakup in that moment. But there were many, many guys that were kind of Harvey's favorites, that he was happy to sort of sit down and find out what what's up for them, whether it was drug addiction, or whatever, you know. So, can I didn't really have I mean, I don't mean we had several hours in the late afternoon where we used to chat a lot, but I didn't necessarily see him in that role with me. It seemed like I was managing fine. So there wasn't this big need to sort of utilize him in that fashion. You know, can you just swipe his voice? [00:34:25] Well, it [00:34:29] Stewart milk Harvey's open, the gate nephew had one really solid exchange with his his uncle before his uncle passed away. And before he had his own [00:34:42] coming out, which was many years later, but they Harvey was there to bury his father, I think and he met with his brother's family. And there was the way it was described by both Stewart and Harvey was there was this one late night where they said around the kitchen table. And and it was somewhat aggravated around the gay issue or, you know, the sort of notion of [00:35:11] not that Stewart was even thinking that he might be gay at that point, but there was some conservative ness on his part around, you know, why do you have to be so vocal? And Harvey in the way he described it, which is once once Stewart said it, I was like, Yeah, that's right. I remember that. And he would do this thing where he would [00:35:35] let you have your opinion. And he would hear you out good and clear. And then he would loop it back around to his and and and have you convinced that his worldview what's what's what's more? Correct, right? So I think especially if you were a youngster or somebody who we thought was cute, he was certainly going to be like, very accommodating on that sort of metaphysical level of Lao let's, let's have a conversation here. But always very sort of like the last word. And you know, [00:36:12] there were the flip side of that same coin as if you were super familiar like Scott, he could really hammer you like, needing to be right thing. He was terribly cruel to Scott sometimes. And Scott probably survived. And last because he was just as bullheaded, you know, he wouldn't let Harvey have it. No Holds bar, you know, just. [00:36:39] Yeah. [00:36:41] Yeah, I had some kind of autonomy like I that really wasn't, I think we got one big argument with another guy from the community. And I saw them kind of go at it with the veins popping out. And that was just like, you can't win with Harvey. So does that explain it? Does that answer your question? [00:37:02] No, I'm just wondering in terms of, like, tone of voice was he kind of Was it a soft tone, a harsh tone? [00:37:08] Both both? Like, it could be it could be both. And then you know, I mean, it was never harsh with me. [00:37:15] And you could see him drop down an octave. And it would be like, okay, now what I'm going to say serious. So let's, let's have you listen here. Yeah, he definitely was gifted in terms of communication. And, you know, it was really sort of fond of talking. So there was lots of inflection and lots of [00:37:39] engagement, you know, really sort of live for the engagement [00:37:44] to be changes language, depending on who he was talking to me. [00:37:47] I'd say he probably did. Yeah, I mean, he could, you know, Harvey's such a ball breaker. He would insert vulgarity, just to get people's go, you know, because he be in his heavy hitters situations, and you'd see him like insult insert vulgarity, just because he knew that people would get their panties in a bunch, you know, and it was so he, he always had a sort of street aspect to him, which is I admired, you know, because I certainly always had that. And [00:38:20] he, I doubt if he ever [00:38:24] was restrained for the sake of expediency, like he pretty much was himself and felt that that was sort of the first the first rule, you know. [00:38:36] So yeah. [00:38:38] What were you want to tease in the commercial? [00:38:41] Well, I was mostly customer service. So I was writing up people's orders and, and then I would stock the shelves because we didn't have this we carried darkroom supplies. We did not sell cameras. [00:38:55] I answered the phones. So that was a date, time, manifestation of the political campaigns and then sometimes I would stay late. After I punched out and what kind of campaigns I leave live in the bingo games with him in the vision. [00:39:16] I registered voters I walked precincts, very little walking precincts, but because I mean, I worked for the store 40 hours a week. So there was really not that much energy for politics outside of the store, especially since I was super super involved in all these are endeavors which they wholeheartedly supported. They came to that film festival that I described. Support me, they came to some shows that I did, they were very much on that page of mentorship, where you show up for the good stuff like that the presentational stuff. That was cool. [00:40:01] Can you describe for me what the shop look like inside? [00:40:05] Well, it was some ragtag you know, they didn't have a lot of money. And [00:40:16] they, it was a big open space. And they built it out with false walls that were created by our friend, Tom Randall, who lived with them upstairs for a minute. And he, he's still a good friend of mine. And he took like cardboard tubing, you know, like save the tubing, that role of photographic seamless comes on, he took things like that, and he made furniture out of it. And they had a big fluffy old couch for people to sit on. And look at their slides. Like there was long slide table, you could look at your slides and and then there was a big conference room in the back, which is where some of the campaign stuff was happening. And, and then Harvey had a very tiny office. And then there was another room adjacent to that which had been various things, mostly storage, but at one point, it was a printing press. And, and that conference room was interesting, because it had gone through several [00:41:19] mutations. Like before I work there, there was a photographer that actually ran a studio out of it, Rick polio, and he. [00:41:30] And then there was some licensing issue around the fact that they couldn't have that in the store while they did something else. I don't know if it was the politics or what but he had, it had to stop being a studio and then and then, and then we actually held a little film festival, video, not films there. And that actually predated [00:41:56] the frame line, super eight festival that I talked about. [00:42:00] And it was a one off, it was three days of videos. But it never happened again. But there was some sort of targeting of a maybe this could be a film showcase place. And then I think [00:42:17] a political campaign came up in that bumped all of the possible morphing of that space into exactly that campaign headquarters. And there it stayed in perpetuity till it closed. [00:42:32] So how many people could you fit in that space? A [00:42:35] couple hundred like that, that scene from milk, which is the victory party is sort of authentic? based, I think because it's the same physical space. And that's exactly how it was. You can see it in my photos, how many people sort of spill down into the street, right. [00:42:53] couple hundred. [00:42:55] You mentioned earlier about fronting and developing hobbies, photos rate. And I'm guessing that things like I'm going through a darkroom process, I mean, that nowadays with digital was was kind of historic. So can you explain the I mean, it must be quite a joy to actually see something coming up from from a blank piece of paper. Can you explain? [00:43:19] Yeah, yeah, well, [00:43:22] we never did do processing on the premise there. Now, that's actually a myth. That's part of the film. That's that's sort of a hybrid ization of fact, we had a sister store in the Haight called I food, and that was independently owned and independently run. But they did all the black and white processing for Castro camera. So there would be a delivery there in the morning, people would drop off their films, and then we'd shoot it over there by car. And, and then there would be a pickup in the late afternoon, and not necessarily of the stuff that was dropped off that day. This, the cyclical nature was about a three day turnaround. So this guy, Rick Nichols, who's still very much family, he would process he would real process your black and whites, and bang out a proof sheet for you in like two, two and a half to three days service time. And so then Scott would go over there and pick up the bad days. And you would come in at 5pm to pick up your proof sheets or the next day. And, and I didn't use his dark room. But that was that same era where we were all doing that we were working with processing our negatives and printing, I was actually working for the advocate, photographer, Crawford Barton, a free apprenticeship and using his dark room, and then and then there was other people that kind of chipped in the ladies there dark room type of thing. So it's cool. It's good, good, supportive environment in that respect, like people definitely were into sharing resources as part of the vision of CO creating community, like there was this generosity that was sort of a carryover from the hippie era. [00:45:20] And so when you are developing something, is it like, when you've shot something on film? Do you realize once you've taken the photo up, that's the photo or is it actually only in development that you find this of the the image that I want? [00:45:37] Okay, well, I wasn't really I was kind of technically naive back then. And and of course, I was excited by photography on that sort of visceral level, but [00:45:51] I don't think we even knew what a good image lip light backbend. You know, [00:45:56] it's like, I wish I was a better photographer, because there's a lot of the pictures are so historically potent now. And not a lot of them stood the test of time, because I was really sort of sloppy with my technique. But I guess, you know, I guess I was like, any other Luddite? You know, I, you'd see it come up in the train up super site, you know, I don't know. [00:46:23] I think I probably had less and less time for printing as things goes, goes on. And in a sense, that did end up being the [00:46:34] the gravity of my own career has not been as a printer, it's been as a shooter. So it's sense in a sense that it got [00:46:43] to be a secondary involvement. [00:46:46] I think, you know, for me, I'm, I'm a people person, and I'ma a social engagement person. And so the solitary pursuit of the dark room was I always felt was subordinate, in the sense that, yes, this is very meditative. And this is very artistic. But no, it's not me. So I think a lot of a lot of that material I shot really hasn't seen the light of day simply because I was out there shooting new material, and that's kind of that imbalance still exists in my body of work. So someday, they'll be, you know, some forging going on. [00:47:26] So can you talk to me about photographing some of the what were some of the campaign photographs? And had you done that kind of work before? Have you been in those fast changing environments, photographing, documenting? [00:47:40] Yeah, um, well, you know, be a our Bay Area reporter where Harvey had his column was really rinky dink little gay rag at the time and, [00:47:53] and covering the whole [00:47:56] old school drag ball scene, basically, it that whole culture, even though now in in retrospective, is profoundly significant in terms of what it transformed. But at the time, it was actually sort of looked down upon, in a way, although he he certainly had the wisdom to utilize it as a springboard for community discourse. And then he also recognize, correctly that that the Dragonball community was a huge voting demographic. And they did help elect Harvey and they were at the forefront of fundraising, they were sort of the early prototype of what we see now in the nonprofit sector of, you know, really sort of shrewd fundraising and just a very sort of compassionate, or very passionate investment in terms of shaking down the philanthropic dollar. And the drag community was always that, if not anything else, but they were, they were also like this amazing thing, so they would send me out. And so those were my first sort of editorial. [00:49:04] And it was great, because, you know, here again, I was like, being paid to photograph drag queens and theater people. [00:49:13] But I, it was short lived, I think I, I mean, they were paying me something like $15 a photo. And I think I went to blows with the editor who's kind of this really intense guy [00:49:26] on the the rate and repetitive [00:49:31] utilization issues, and [00:49:35] and then I stopped working for them. And I think I had always imagined that I would increase my [00:49:46] connection to [00:49:49] editorial, you know, [00:49:53] income, but it sort of didn't happen. I mean, I was really kind of, [00:50:01] in the avant garde scene more than I was in the sort of commercial scene, commercial editorial scene. And [00:50:07] yeah, what was your question? Again? [00:50:10] I was just wondering if you could take me through some of the political campaign. Oh, images. Okay. And [00:50:19] when with a you shot that kind of material before? How you shot it? Yeah. And why shortly? [00:50:26] Yeah. I think there was a lot of cluelessness involved there. Because in a sense, my focus was my friends like I was photographing my friends because that's what they were doing. And I'm, you don't really see [00:50:43] an eye for editorial historical [00:50:49] document in my work till maybe the early 80s. And, and I can even tell you, where I sort of had the light bulb go off over my head, because, you know, I mean, in a sense, that community was so insular, that I was allowed the eccentricity of only photographing my friends, my friends just happen to be doing these very amazing things. But that being the the Castro community theater stuff, I was doing the drag stuff, all that was very sort of ethnocentric. And so in, [00:51:22] in the early 80s, I got the commission to do the Castro Street Fair poster. [00:51:30] Because Scott became a sort of significant player on that scene, on the repetition of the street, fair year and year out. And, and I wanted to do this grid treatment, where it was like 20, small square photographs that showed all the different aspects of the fair. And I set forth to edit that out of my body of work. And then I realized, I realized that I was very sparse on a certain certain key [00:51:57] content, for example, male male affection shots, I didn't have it, or I had very little of it. And, and there was an awful lot of theater people in drag queens. And so that was a bit of a wake up call, it was like, Wow, you really are eccentric here. And, and that's been fun. But you really got to pay attention and start documenting your community a little more mindfully. So that Castro Street Fair poster was a critical learning curve for me. And, and so then I started shooting that way, like shooting editorial, like what is what is going to tell the story in a better way, years from now. [00:52:36] So you saying that the images prior to that, so the political campaign images were very much like taking photographs of friends, rather than trying to document situation or [00:52:48] a little bit, like somewhat incestuous. But also, I mean, you know, I'm my colleagues are definitely reflecting back in a very sort of [00:52:58] solid editorial way, you know, and and they're doing it it kind of with political mindfulness, and, and I'm paying attention to that, but I'm sort of being I'm sort of being [00:53:11] petulant, with my own particular kinks, which is theatre and theatre people. And, you know, I think Harvey and Scott used to kid me about that. They'd be like, Oh, you know, rink and Crawford goes Castro Street Fair. And they come back with all these pictures of hot guys. And all Danny ever comes back with his pictures of drag queens and theater people, you know, they always bust my chops about that, but it was true. You know, I wasn't really [00:53:39] that the erotic dimension of my work had not, it had not emerged yet. So I was fairly, I was afforded the luxury of being somewhat incestuous in that respect, you know, I did appreciate it. And others work such as craft, Barton, who was a teacher in a way, but I didn't feel compelled to emulate it at all. On the contrary, I was doing my own. You know? [00:54:10] So I'm wondering, how do you get people relaxed in front of the camera, like I'm thinking of, so when you're shooting your friends? How do you make it so that they may be kind of where have you relaxed? And finding the right moment to click that shutter of knowing that you've only got however many frames in a roll film? [00:54:30] Yeah. Well, even as poor as I was, I always thought filmic Lee and I shot film, actually, I actually shot a lot of film, and I and so one of the strategies was to just shoot enough that one of those was going to sort of be that in between moment that we all crave, you know, and, and I think it succeeded as a strategy. I think it was a liability on other respects, in terms of a more practical Zen way of looking before you take the photograph that didn't come to me till much later on through re entering college in the 80s. I had one teacher challenged me on that issue, you know, just like, maybe you should just not take it and think about it before you you know, actually take it and see what happens in that that dead time before you actually take the picture. So that was good. It didn't fit. It didn't fit me very well, I think I i entertained it for a minute and and then defaulted back to that sort of, I probably saw an excerpt from a blow up of the movie of the fashion photographer going click, click, click, click and decided that's what I want to be when I grow up, you know? [00:55:43] So how many roles Will you would you be taking? [00:55:45] Um, well back then I, you know, I would make a couple roles to try x last a couple weeks. But, you know, certainly by the time I have a studio in the 90s, I'm shooting 10 rolls of film per session. [00:56:01] The Gay day stuff accelerates, like, by the time my mature photographer covering San Francisco Pride Parade of shooting 1415 rolls easy. [00:56:14] So I never let go of the idea of using still photography to make a sort of sequential deconstruction of what I'm photographing. [00:56:27] And that's stuck. It's kind of I'm stuck with it. Now. I can't I can't slow down and save my life. Even when I played with us blood, you know, which was somewhat slowing, but I, I still sort of shot a lot of film. I set the camera on a tripod, of course, which did help slow me down and formalize me a little bit. So all that studio work, which is a 10 year period, there's some really beautiful, very, very formal, appa Don ask common portraiture. [00:56:59] So would you see you or say, your parade or your fear, or the political campaign photographs is photojournalism, or the more personal image, [00:57:10] I would never classify that stuff as photo journalistic, partly because it never did get published. Partly because of many of the things we talked about already, which was I was too busy moving on to the next thing, to really sort of cultivate the post production aspect or the exploration of publishing as an income producer. Of course, now that is happening, because there's demand for that material. So that's nice, because, you know, forces me to go in and make determinations of what's editorially strong and how it could be licensed and marketed. [00:57:49] And I think there was a little part of me that predicted that you know, that was like, I'll deal with that later. You know, so in it and it has shown up so that's cool. [00:58:02] I have always been an artist I've always been an art fag. You know, I kind of love and milk that I've started to depicted as this quirky little art fact, because basically, that type in the world is Legion now. I mean, they, they grew, they, we grew them on trees, and now they're everywhere. Everybody's a photographer, you know, everybody has Tumblr, and it was an idea whose time has come but really, in a sense, I was part of a [00:58:34] revolution in terms of what articles were producing and how they how photography would become such an essential tool, what kind of camera we use them my first was a Pentax I bought a use Pentax and it was about $169 for a 50 lens 50 millimeter lens. And that lasted a long time that left me quite far into the 80s it hit been to the hospital few times I think I got a second body at one point and was even shooting with two bodies and [00:59:09] and then what after I met Mike I grew up and I got a contacts I had a really beautiful I still have it's sort of tragic that poor contact sits there just completely being ignored. [00:59:22] And but you know, what happened with digital is actually was being cultivated to shoot stills on milk, not as the primary still man, but as the sort of little side editorial project. But they said you have to shoot digital. So I taught myself digital. And and then once I realized how great digital was for mixed lighting and stuff, I just never looked back like that context got put in the closet, and there it stayed, you know. So it's frustrating because it's a beautiful camera, but not willing to go through the extra effort that it's takes to have films to go the Luddite path, because digital is just so. And really since milk came out, my life has been super brisk. So there really isn't much opportunity to decay anymore. [01:00:16] In speaking of lighting, what are your thoughts on lighting? What do you use natural light or flash? Or [01:00:23] are you still in Flash, you know, if it's a bright day, I'll use flash. I mean, one of the disadvantages of being technically naive, [01:00:33] all those early years, and now it comes back to bite me on the ass. Because the demand is for that material, not for the stuff I shot in the 90s or, you know, the turn of the century and, and [01:00:47] it time and time again, the material does not stand the test of time, either because I didn't use fell on flash or I was technically naive, then negatives now I need number of problems out of focus images that in my imagination, were possibly probably in focus. And then of course, when it comes time to scan them, it's like [01:01:09] you know, and it's the wrong kind of out of focus, it's not the ephemeral kind of out of focus, it's the kind that shouldn't, shouldn't be utilized. So I think it was really great for me to sort of finally just say, you gotta, you gotta at least carve out enough time to get your ducks in a row on the technical stuff so that this stuff will, you'll have something to show for. And so I did do that. And, and I like I like that part of it more. I mean, you can't have it both ways. I think if I hit sort of, sort of chained myself to my desk in the 70s, instead of seeking out the theater world and the Harvey Milk's of the world, I wouldn't have been in the right place at the right time. So I have to sort of accept the fact that I am I didn't have proper balance, then you know, but [01:02:05] given the choice, again, I think I would quiet myself down a little better and, and brush up, you know, had some painful, painful mistakes back then. [01:02:17] So looking through some of your just amazing images, especially all things like the victory celebration at Castro camera. And I'm wondering, when you're photographing something like that, do you feel part of the event? Or you kind of removing yourself from it, especially when it's your friends? Yeah, [01:02:36] yeah. No, I never was very good at putting the camera down. And [01:02:42] having balance in terms of my [01:02:47] integration with the event, I do very much go to an isolated vantage point. And I am actually playing with that particular phenomena a little bit more now. [01:03:04] Trying to break that down a little bit, within reason, because I really still feel that in the service of the social sector. [01:03:15] People shouldn't be talking to the photographer, it's like, Don't talk to me, I'm working. You know, don't, I mean, chat me up, but don't expect me to have a deep conversation now. You got my phone number, fucking call me up, you know, and it's like, so, you know, most of my friends, they, on a molecular level, they're like, get away from her. [01:03:41] But, um, I think, you know, it's, it's also part of the creation of the work to engage. So but I guess, in a sense, it's, I prefer to dominate, because, you know, that I'm choosing to engage, and I'm choosing to coach or whatever. [01:04:05] I don't know, you know, back then I was, I was just as sort of [01:04:11] remote, I would say, and, and really invested in the photographic process to the degree that I was probably not that user friendly. I don't know. I mean, I see I see worse versions of it out there, where people are just really sort of crude and rude. I'm not that. But on the other hand, I know how to negotiate [01:04:36] shared space to the degree that I can get what I want, and enroll you in that process, you know, and I seem to have a really good gift for that, like, people really enjoy working with me and really enjoy that process. But I am a bit of a tyrant on a certain level, you know, [01:04:58] into internally, I really, like I I will kind of send somebody smoke signal like that conversations actually not going to happen right now. And I'm going to go and do what I've been doing. It's just covering this event. So you guys, y'all can enjoy these pictures later on. Because I post everything and people do get involved on a sort of communal level that way. And, you know, [01:05:23] I think, in a sense, the gesture is that it's like, well, you know, you can't have it both ways here. You know, and I'm out there enough without my camera that you can chat me up later on. That would be the sort of subtext of Not now. [01:05:45] I've never talked to anybody about that. So that was an interesting question for me, because [01:05:54] I could work to your disadvantage. I mean, certainly, like certain weddings, you have to go that little extra mile, because they don't know you from Adam. They're not impressed. You're just this dude. [01:06:05] Right? [01:06:10] It's been, since the fame came, I mean, not that I hadn't had modicum of visibility as an artist through the years, but it was definitely never an anchor to the success of being depicted in a feature film or the success of such a profound the far reaching film. It's changed the internal dynamics of people sitting for you, and people partaking in that process, you know, it really, the non amenity went right out the window. So I have to be okay with [01:06:48] that part, that sort of invincibility that I used to have is never going to come back. So it's very much phrased by the success of the movie milk. And that's it, because everybody's very eager to participate now, which is, you know, never been a struggle before. But it was a challenge before so now it's this whole different thing of [01:07:11] everybody wants to play, but they, you know, it's [01:07:16] the neutrality is is no longer there. [01:07:23] Doesn't seem to hold anybody back, though, you know, or myself. [01:07:29] And I don't think it really impacts the content negatively, ultimately. [01:07:40] Don't I don't know, I don't know that. Yeah, be interesting that take a look at the work in a few years and see after post pre milk and after milk, how that changed. [01:07:49] One of the other interesting things I find, particularly in things like Harvey's walk to city hall for his inauguration, [01:07:58] you're actually the perfect they come down the street. So actually kind of being there prior to intervene taking place. So actually having a kind of a 16th, to say, something's going to happen. I need to be at that point. So [01:08:13] yeah, yeah. Well, you know, God, there were so many events where I botched it, though, I think I was just lucky in that particular moment, you know, to be, but I mean, really, even back as far as the 70s. I think in a sense, those of us that were photographers, in the LGBT communities, we always were like, salmon swim, swimming upstream, where we, like the parade is the perfect example. So you're, you've got credentials, you're in the parade, and it's, it's moving forward, and you're covering it, but then you've, you've fallen back, because you were focused on a particular entity, or contingent or something, and then, you know, something else comes along, and you have to follow it back upstream, and do your little deal and then fall back. And so I mean, when I when I used to photograph in the parade itself, I always felt like a salmon at the end of the day swimming upstream, you know, it's just like, wow, and that was hard work, you know, I would always be completely depleted afterwards. And I would have shot in 14, you know, or 15 really brilliant rolls of film. But I'd be like what you know. So now I'm more into the people setting up in the kind of portraiture, unlike really, you know, more focused on the who's who of things and who's important in our community, and who's here this year, that should be documented, that kind of stuff. [01:09:49] And then I have my, I still have my little like, quirks, you know, like, I'll go to fairy freedom village, and I'll just hang out there for a couple hours with my friends. And you do see late in life, you see a trend towards not engaging strangers anymore. Like I really can't do it anymore, like I used to. It's just the due diligence is and the extra work in terms of enrolling somebody, it just doesn't work for me now. And I have so many amazing friends. [01:10:21] And the creative people that are in the San Francisco community, it's it's like an endless supply of the most beautiful, most talented most sort of exhibitionistic people. So I feel like, if my friends want to sort of be the first conversation there, then why engage strangers, you know, unless somebody sort of iconic in terms of what they're depicting, you know, I will shoot the sort of Veritate shot that tells a story about the visitors to San Francisco or whatever. But I really sort of ethnocentric stilt to have fault. You know, [01:11:04] I think I spent, you know, four hours in fairy village last year, because they gave me like the big fancy fancy credentials. And [01:11:14] it just felt comfortable to be there with my my friends. And [01:11:20] backstage backstage, for example, backstage at KD is no fun anymore. It's this really sort of higher, higher I have all access pass, but [01:11:32] it's this very hierarchical thing with a certain amount of police presence, you know, because some of those people are pop stars and and I'm just like, No, I'm not interested, you know, that I love the people that produce the prayed there. They're my dear, dear friends. And I, I totally took my hat off to them for doing all that. But for my content, that's, that's no longer [01:12:01] do you think engaging with strangers? [01:12:06] Is it you kind of not wanting to go there? Or do you think actually, generally as a population, especially like in the Castro, have people kind of shut down a bit more. So it's not about engagement with strangers, but it's basically working with who, you know, [01:12:23] while I've aged, so of course, there's this there is this newer [01:12:29] variable to contend with, which is, you know, I'm no longer this young hot thing. So I have to, you know, I don't really want to engage strangers from the youth demographic, because there's a sort of a just dimension to it, that really is just of no use to me, because I'm, I have the most impressive people in the world want, you know, lining up to sit for me, so I'm not going to go through that process of struggling to enroll a looker. If there's, I have to navigate that, that age of stuff. I do like heavily tattooed people. So that's quite often where I'll make an exception, it's like the somebody will be so absolutely stunning that I will, I'll go out of my comfort zone on that. [01:13:15] And then, when I had the studio, I actually had a sort of reverse psychology where I was sort of fed up with the [01:13:25] enchantment that existed within the queer community with me because having a studio was really great, because people were in, you know, appropriately impressed with studio work. And I made it [01:13:39] a curatorial decision to parade the queer community through my studio. And so that's a whole sub sector of the body of work that I intentionally cultivated. But then there were these moments where I would just be so saturated with that, where I would, I would seek out a strange person that had absolutely zero invested my visibility or fame, and they would be, and sometimes they wouldn't be queer, you know, they'd be, you know, a straight family or something like that. That would just be like a fun studio project to do, you know. And it was very, I noticed, for me, it was very much an alleviation of the queer identity thing. I mean, the queer community, I think, I don't know how it is New Zealand, but it can be a very demand. She's a very demanding girl. [01:14:32] She'll take your time. If you know, she'll take as much time as you'll give her and she she has no snakes, no bones about that. So I think there were ways that I'd sort of resent that and fight back by doing work that was not attached to that identity. [01:14:51] What was it like doing that shot of Harvey in his office? [01:14:55] Well see that that's kind of what [01:15:00] those moments are really what sort of remind me of my special proximity to him. Because he would, he was very proactive, he would occasionally pick up the phone to me and say, this is happening, you need to come down. So he was mayor for day and he said, this is happening, and you need to come down. And I was there were other photographers there. But it was by gesture of his invitation that I was there or because I like I said, I was a little bit clueless, and I didn't really have a mature vision around where I should be editorially. So unfortunately, he suffered to mentor me in that way. And it was exciting. It was kind of like the Marx Brothers had hit City Hall, you know. And [01:15:49] additionally, when he was dressed up like a clown, there was an editorial photographer that was hired by the newspaper that was doing the publicity piece for the the Ringling Brothers Carnival circus, and but Harvey invited me as his personal photographer, so I got to go and, you know, piggyback that so he would occasionally call me up like that, and say, Come on down and do this thing. [01:16:18] So it was it was cool. It's really, really cool. on that level. I wished I had done more, you know, no, one six, I have almost no coverage. I'm not on six, for example, I just, maybe I was working on a show or whatever. But I was absent. [01:16:36] So it's sort of ironic that I'm depicted as part of the think tank, you know, in the film, no, but it's, that's not the reality, I can see. Strategically why they would just sort of, you know, lumped me in with that group, but that wasn't my relationship to Harvey at all. So there was a lot of collapsing of story in that just to advance the, the narrative of short narrative time of a feature. [01:17:09] But I think they distill the sort of art fag aspect of it very well like to be this sort of [01:17:16] gay, every man, a newly formed queer identity, sort of covering, covering everything as it's going on. I think that's fairly accurate in the sense, you know, and symbolically and metaphorically correct and serves, you know, serves the storytelling very well, in that respect. [01:17:38] held his assassination affect you. [01:17:42] Um, I was pretty traumatized to be truthful. Um, I tell a really good story, which is strangely true. [01:17:55] I was photographing the ballet Trocadero, you know, the all male ballet troupe and we were in San Jose. And I actually met the principal dancer, who invited me to come shoot from the wings at Castro camera. And that was a good story in and of itself, but I'll just go cut to the chase. So we're in San Jose. And we come back that Monday morning that Harvey's killed on a Greyhound bus and [01:18:24] and as we're getting off the bus, I hear our bus driver talking to another bus driver who's parked there. And that bus driver says, Did you hear that Mayor Muskogee and Harvey Milk were killed. And then the guy says, and that Harvey Milk, snow loss, and I and I'm walking off the bus walking past this conversation. And I'm like, What did I just hear, you know, and so then we get in a taxi cab, and sure enough, over the radio comes the news. So I immediately started sobbing my brains out and was pretty much crying all day. [01:18:57] Interestingly, though, in a sense, that was a turning point, because I think both Scott and I really utilize the preservation of harvest papers. And in my case, the documentation of the post Eunice reverberations of Harvey's life, the various memorials that occurred throughout time, that was one of the ways we cope with our trauma was to sort of just make that our mission in life. And then, of course, when he died in 96, torch was very much handed over to me, even though there's certainly other significant players and people who made significant contributions to that effort. There very much was a lineage there. And I have to wonder if the two of them have not targeted me, had not designed me for that possible role in life, you know, like there was, there was enough of luck consistency with the [01:20:03] attention to it that makes me think they had that in mind. No, no, I mean, nobody ever thinks they're going to be assassinated, but somebody hopes that, you know, journalistically or editorially, that their story is told, You know, I think anybody who's kind of, you know, process like that would would have a mind for how do I make sure that this is positive, positive in history in a tangible way. [01:20:31] So I was really lucky in that sense, you know, and I, I really, truly got the sense that more so for Scott than me, it was a tremendous coping mechanism. And partly, for me, I enjoyed a certain amount of autonomy for many years, because I was relied upon for the visual component, but I never had to spin I never had to have a spin like I have to have now. So he was always the spokesperson, you know, they called him the widow milk. And he was very forthcoming with a kind of very sort of adamant theme, and this is he was Martin Luther King type of thing. And his story needs to be preserved. And, and told, and, and he took that sort of passion to the grave with himself. And, and I, up to that point, I always refer to him as the spokes model. And, and then after he died, little by little, it became imperative that I step up, you know, and I hated that, because I don't like public speaking. And I don't like revealing my political identities, you know, [01:21:44] I don't like taking a stand. Ultimately, I just, I'm kind of a Lawyer Attorney is still I just prefer to be playful and not politicized, you know, in a way, but I understand the necessity of it. I mean, I was, for you, I was talking to [01:22:01] a student in Romania. [01:22:06] And yeah, lots of little hits along the way. Like, just, it's, it's kind of Legion. They, they see the movie, they Google my name, and [01:22:18] and then they they chat me up, you know, and it's a bit of a struggle, because a lot of them just sort of think you're the latest video game, you know. And so it's, I always have to kind of distill, okay, well, who's really kind of needs to sit down here and have a chat, and who just thinks, you know, I have the coolest thing since bake bread today. You know, and I love those kids to you know, they're great. And some of them are troubled, you know, there's some, there was some suicidal ideations and it's crazy stuff that comes my way. But it's very much a prediction that Harvey made that, that would be the demographic that we would want to reach out to and need to reach out to, and now it's here, so I'm not going to not do it, you know, but my own. [01:23:11] For example, the post production phase, and my work is really suffering now, and has been, in a sense, because of the floodgates opening after the movie milk came out. And, [01:23:24] and I don't mean to be greedy, because I have produced two exhibits, and they were very exciting and, and [01:23:35] nurturing and towards the ultimate goals of publishing books, but I'm really a point of frustration where I want to publish, I'm sick of spinning, I want to publish books in my work, I want to posit them in history in a tangible way, in case my memory degrades, or in case I get hit by a bus, and I want to do that I want to I want to do it, I don't want somebody editing my work. You know, I've seen so many colleagues have other people, you know, they pass away before their work gets edited by their own mind. And to me, that's a tragic thing. I don't want that to happen. So I'm actually considering moving up to Oregon, probably early part of next year, where my lover has a house and I will have the quietude to move into that second phase of my, my own body of work. And then, you know, who knows, maybe I'll travel, maybe I will grow in that way where I can do the lecture circuit? And if there's books involved might have to, you know what I mean? [01:24:43] But right now, I'm a little frustrated. [01:24:49] Do you find with all the interviews that or do you think that with all the interviews will be a point where you just have had enough of talking that you don't want to tokenism? [01:25:02] I don't know. You know, I think in a sense, I've never been very good at saying no. [01:25:10] But [01:25:12] the irony of that is that [01:25:17] collective memory is so [01:25:21] fickle. And [01:25:27] the people's, except for a very sort of focused, [01:25:33] say, doctorate project, which is very topic specific, um, people are only going to remember these little sort of parcels of information and constellation. So I think in a sense, my, my spirit is that, if you just keep on hammering away at it, you'll deposit [01:25:55] a small parcel of inspiration here and there, and he here and there, that will be useful to somebody that will be useful to some youngster that is possibly considering suicide, or some youngster that is musing whether or not they want a career in photography, and I get a lot of I mean, a lot of those, the new legion of art fags, there, my work is resonating for them, and I get I hear from them. And so I feel like [01:26:27] the, the full essay is not what they're after, they just want the little sort of stroke, you know, and so and that's usually from for me, when I look at other people's work, it's, it's usually landing in a single paragraph of information or a single photograph. And so I don't think it has to be this big tome. You know, but I sort of also strategically field that by just waxing philosophically, ad nauseum. [01:27:00] You'll get there, you'll get to that place where it's going to be available, and it is going to land well with somebody and inspire them. And that's kind of why I do so many. And, and also just, you know, I kind of follow the path of least resistance, it's like, Okay, well, that guy sounds nice, know, this work is good. [01:27:22] He's devoted, you know, that's, I will respond to somebody who's devotional about their work. [01:27:30] That would be a first assessment, in my opinion. You know, [01:27:34] do you find that you come across many people that maybe didn't like Harvey in the 70s. But I've kind of done a complete about face, you know? Yeah, [01:27:45] yeah. There's a lot of, you know, if you get forgiving over time, because you have to realize that it's that sort of small pocket of information theory, it's like, if somebody's going to be involved with in the solidification and the preservation of legacy on that level that has reach, I'm going to pay attention to that, even though I may have distaste for who the P person is and how they're doing it. Because I recognize the gravity of what its effect propaganda mystically or emotionally or inspirationally will be, I will turn the other cheek to the mechanicals because I just get what, what's going on now, you know, he is Harvey is capturing people's imaginations in a big way. And he would be tickled pink about that he would love that. He was definitely into reaching out and reaching a lot of people. So I, you know, I'm way more forgiving than Scott would have ever been. I can tell you that. But I have my limits too. And I have put the smack down on people. You know, for a perfect apple. And this is this is I don't mind going public with this. But because I think it's a really compelling example of how [01:29:09] even Harvey would have been much more rigid about this, and Scott would have certainly, at least held their feet to the fire. But you know, one thing that a lot of tourists that come to the Castro go to is Harvey's restaurant there on the corner at 18th which used to be the elephant loft bar, which was a very historically potent, you know, [01:29:32] location and should be landmarked ultimately but and then, you know, the guy who on the the elephant block got tired of the doing the business and retired and it became Harvey's, but it was always on the property was always owned by Paul Langley, who was one of the biggest, most successful entrepreneurs in terms of real estate. He's one of the original gentrifiers of the Castro. And I don't really know Paul's history enough to know what kind of philanthropic work he did do prior to electing to name his restaurant, expediently, Harvey's and then a electing to expediently decorate it with 70s paraphernalia. [01:30:17] It manage Ariely and mechanically they were kind of distasteful to me how they went about and did it. But yeah, at the end of the day, here's this place that has name recognition, people go to it, they get their little history hit, they have their burger and they leave. And those of us that no better, he is the antithesis of what Harvey stood for in terms of [01:30:44] renters protections and various grassroots energies. However, [01:30:51] this all went down, and I had distaste for it. [01:30:57] But I was wisely instructed by somebody, a colleague, who's in the nonprofit sector, who basically said, you know, these people are educated. And, and they will be, you know, our goal as a nonprofit is to slowly but surely enroll them in what that level of philanthropy should be. And they're not there yet, but they can be, they can be taught their responsibility in the community. And sure enough, within a few years time, they did it, that business finally grew up in that way, and I'm so glad I didn't like, you know, sort of harsh on them, you know, because that could have just closed them down, you know, so I, I'm glad that I kind of just took the low road on that, you know, where Scott would have been very demanding, and like, you know, no, you can't leave that. [01:31:55] Arby's without coffee, lots of money. [01:31:59] So [01:32:02] there's a lot, there's a lot of stuff like that. [01:32:06] And there's, then there's all this folk art stuff happening where, you know, individuals, just really, they just take my image, you know, steal it, and make, make whatever they're making quilts or whatever I, you know, I don't have a problem with all that. They're not cottage industries, they're just kind of folk artists, you know, [01:32:29] just finally, you know, kind of going on from there, I really loved the idea that photographs, change and feeling and texture over time. So you know, you take a photograph, you put it on the wall, and it has one kind of meaning, but then in 30 years time you look at it again, and it can resonate in a completely different way. I'm just wondering if you have any kind of reflections on how your photographs have changed over time? [01:32:59] Yeah, I mean, I think I think their self importance falls away a little bit, you know, because Because obviously, in the time space continuum, what is capturing people's imaginations today is going to fall away tomorrow, like Jose sorry, is the perfect example. He is in his 80s, he was as important as Harvey Milk, the whole thing that he fostered, which is the imperial court system, the big drag ball communities in over 50 cities, I think, at one point, huge fundraising entity, they all perished from AIDS, so many of them, and then the leadership, which is him at the helm. And then there's still maybe another 20 cities that still have court systems. It's, it's, it's underappreciated. And those are the people that really dealt with a lot of, you know, [01:33:57] tremendous adversity and harassment from society and stuff. And so there, I'm fortunate to be the bridging generation that has awareness of the old school, and yet has, you know, another awareness of what's coming down the pike, and I will remain a vessel for appreciation that my next generation won't necessarily have a direct connection to that, and it will fall away, regardless of the gravity of it. You know, that's why history is such an important tool. Because it'll, it'll still be positive and in such a way that if one wants to know even though it's not on the public's tongue, they can still go and find out but it's what's on the public's tongue that is really sort of where the currency is. And I mean, the currency I mean, sort of metaphysical currency, you know, that's like, what are people engaged with? what's what's feeding their what's capturing their imagination, Harvey is it right now? And yet to me personally, Jose, sorry, has is as important if not more, you know, and I you know, I could go into the reasons why but there trust me they're solid. [01:35:15] And he's you know, he's getting ready to pass on and drop his drop his mortal coil and and who knows, you know, the movie will ever get made, but should be. So it's that kind of lineage where [01:35:30] there's ebbs and flows, and people's curiosities change. And I think photography is very fleeting, ultimately, you know, it's like, [01:35:44] it kind of drops away, you know, naturally so I think and also now with the sort of onslaught that happens in culture with photography, know people's attentions are diminished. People's investments are diminished. [01:36:04] Yeah, I mean, who, who thinks about bet Midler now, you know, right. When do you When do you talk about that Midler? I can remember being appalled that my new roommate was not into Bette Midler. [01:36:18] What you've got to be kidding me. You're not that impressed or invested or enchanted by Batman or what? What is your problem, you know, and now, you know, you know, I saw the Vito Russo documentary, and there's some Bette Midler footage in there, and her, you know, her place in the pantheon of queer community Heroes is solid. I mean, if you do the homework, it's there. And but yeah, you know, ask, ask the next guy on the street, whether they care about that Midler, you know, and probably they don't. [01:36:56] So I'm not that attached. Ultimately, I would hate it if my house burned down and my negatives Gareth [01:37:05] was just like, [01:37:07] that horrified look at it space that only photographers could know. [01:37:13] The Don't you find it nice, even if the public move on, that actually used to have these images as touchstones. [01:37:22] Yeah, yeah. No, I'm, I'm very classic in that sense that [01:37:30] I, my reality is very impressed with my body of work and my journey to posit that work in in culture in a tangible way. [01:37:45] I've been very lucky, you know, to just kind of [01:37:49] be able to invest so much energy and time in that. And in a sense, in recent years, I've had to step back from that just out of a sense, self care, like not to be so OCD about image making and [01:38:09] at the expense of the intimates in my life, you know, and it's just like, we can be very narcissistic, ultimately, photographers can and by necessity, partly, but also, I think there's limits, you know, and I think, for me, personally, when I reached levels of exhaustion or depletion around that worldview, and that way of existing, I am very happy that I'm teaching myself self care to the degree that I can put it down and put it aside and pay attention to the other dimensions of my life, which makes the return to it all the more joyous because you're just like, I've really earned this now, you know. [01:38:55] So before I was just kind of live in it, and that was, that's that rite of passage, such of being a 20 something but I'm no longer that
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