South of Market, San Francisco, California, August 10, 1989



From "The Memoirs, Volume Two" -



            By now, our guys in the AIDS Emergency Fund just loved us and thought we could do anything.  So, they were coming up with new ideas, every time we turned around.  And the Dory Alley Street Fair was coming up.  They called me up.

            “Bill, we have a great idea!  You’ll love it!”

            “What’s that?”

            “It’ll be called ‘Hug-A-Hunk’, a booth, you know, for the Dory Alley Street Fair.  And we’ll put these great hunks in the booth, and you pay five dollars to hug them, for, like, three minutes!  Isn’t that great?  And we’ll make lots of money!”

            Well, I said, we’d have to think about it.  Now, these guys were mostly a bunch of Pacific Heights queens, you know, but then too a lot of sort of leather queens, and Dory Alley is this little side street off Folsom Street, the biggest gay leather bar scene in the, well, world, I guess.  And we could just see these queens dying to get their hands on some imaginary, new  hunks, for a change, and sitting around thinking about it, but having no idea really, how to pull it off, or what kind of work was involved.

            So we tossed it around a bit.  We timed out three minutes as a test hug.  Way too long!  You’ll loose your audience.  We tried a minute.  Still too long.  The guys at Ready Set were rolling their eyes.

            “How’s the Hug-A-Hunk booth coming, Bill?” they would call and ask.  We were thinking about it, we said.


            Finally, we told ourselves, Well, Hell, it’s only the Dory Alley Street Fair and, yeah, we can do it.  And so we got to work and did some sketches.

            The booths at the fair were ten feet by ten feet, way too small to do anything. So, we had the Fund reserve us two booths, side by side, and had a space ten feet deep by twenty feet wide.  Better.




            We built a small stage about three feet off the ground and a kind of lattice-work back drop that looked like Coney Island or such.  In the center high above we made a big clock-face, with a single hand, little notations for the seconds and straight up at twelve, we put a big bright red electric bulb.  Across the back the lettering HUG-A-HUNK and AIDS Emergency Fund.




            And the show itself?  We decided the only thing would be some outrageous drag queen to be MC and hawker of this ridiculous offer!  Well, we knew a few drag queens, but they weren’t really interested, I can hardly blame them, and so we went to see our friends at Este Noche, the notorious Latin gay bar in the Mission, our neighbors, and just full of outrageous drag queens who would, of course, do just about anything.

            “Sure,” they said, “Roni will love it!”


            “Roni Salazar, our star, of course!”

            And Roni said she would get a couple others to help out, it being a long day planned for the entire Dory Alley Street Fair.  So we had our drag queens.


*  *  *


            We rented some sound equipment and built the back drop and the guys at the Fund said the “hunks” were all lined up.  David made a tape of a silly “tick-tock” sort of sound effect, about thirty seconds long, plenty (!), and we got a small motor that turned the hand slowly around the clock face.








            The day dawned bright and we set up our Hug-A-Hunk in the center of Dory Alley.  The hunks came in shorts and spandex and Roni brought along “Harlo,” one of her Latins girls, and they kept up a patter worthy of the silliest hawkers on Broadway.  David always like to get into the shot with the drag queens, below.











            About half way through, a new drag queen appeared, this one not Latino and just showed up and volunteered to take a spell.  Her name was Doris Fish and she was slaying them.  I was watching from across the street and whispered to somebody, get her number!  We would use her again.












We had lots of hunks.




            And as consciencious booth designer, I had to try out all the features, make sure everything was working as it should.




            Well, it certainly got a lot of attention and we got photos in the papers and the Hug-A-Hunk was famous.





            The guys at the Fund loved it and congratulated us profusely.


            The next month we would present the Hug-A-Hunk at the even bigger Folsom Street Fair and the following month, the even bigger Castro Street Fair.  So, we were happy about it, of course, but in the end exhausted and gladly retired the event to history.



*  *  *