Gay Motorcycle Club & Leather Bar Vernacular Photography Collection
San Francisco: ca. 1970-80. Nineteen (19) black and white silver gelatin prints. Photos stamped on verso “Crown Associates, 2325 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114.” From 5 x 7 1⁄4 in. to 8 x 10 in., including one contact sheet. Item #5777
An exceptional collection of vernacular photography documenting San Francisco’s all male gay motorcycle clubs in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Clubs such as the ones shown in this collection emerged in the early 1950’s together with burgeoning leatherman culture. The groups celebrated hypermasculinity and leather fetishism, and above all else were social clubs which provided their members with a safe space for unabashed sexual expression and community, in an era where homosexuality was criminalized. The motorcycle clubs were known for their “runs” - weekend or week-long bike rides to nearby campgrounds and beaches, where they could party without police surveillance, an increasing problem in the gay leather bars in the city.
This collection depicts the gay bikers partying at leather bars, on the road, and attending a pool party. Some images include bikers presenting awards on a stage and serving food and drinks at a bar, presumably for an awards ceremony or banquet celebrating the motorcycle clubs. Locations and specific biker clubs depicted in the shots are unknown. The variety of clubs depicted may indicate documentation of a multi-club run or yearly celebration of local clubs.
Remarkable first-hand documentation of the gay biker subculture in California.