Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tour: Chuckers Coffee House

In March of 1965, The Chuckkers coffeehouse was raided, charged with municipal ordinance 440 (wearing apparel of opposite sex with intent to deceive) and California penal code 650 (openly outrages public decency). …..”[1]

Citizen News Volume 4 No. 12 " And then Sgt Ludlow, of past fame decided the cut of the hair was still not sufficient at the Chukker. The Chukker is an after hours coffee shop in San Francisco's infamous Tenderloin operated by on of San Francisco's most colorful characters, Carlo. Carlo was one of the participants in the recent Chanel 4 film on homosexuality. Anyhow Sgt. Ludlow let the word drift down that if the hair faeries did not cut their hair by Good Friday that they would be hauled in for impersonation. Promplty at 3:30AM, the good sergeant with banners flying arrived at the Chukker to check out the hair-do's. He arrested about 19 people for various sundry things, all as valid as a LBJ half-dollar, and took them to the Jail.... This raid apparently is tied into the current police drive to gain control of the after-hours places and the statistics of this raid will be apart of the reasons cited for such control."

The owner, Carlos Lara, or Carlo, Raids had become so commonplace by early 1966 that in February of 1966 Carlos posted a signs in the over-the-top style of carnie show announcements in front of the business[2] In 1965, a letter about SIR activities mentions the The Chuckkers, likely written by Forrester. A SIR document, likely from 1965, read:

“I suspect that the element represented by C. Laura represents an element from which we can learn much and for which we can do much. After all, in truth, they are free to fight through the courts and do, while so many of the other more respectable people, can’t or won’t. Mr. Laura is much freerer [sic] than most of us and can indeed show some the example of courage in living up to and being true to ‘his nature.’ Carlos Laura is responsible. He is also free, brave, and true to what he feels he is. And he is willing to fight to prove it.”[3]

Forrester gave the talk on the immediate eve of the sensational press coverage that followed the release of the Tenderloin Report and noted that the publicity and campaign “has become a matter of some controversy in the homophile movement.” Many felt it was an “undesirable image,” he said. He said that the publicity decisions were his, in consultation with Ed Hansen, because it “cannot be swept under the rug.” At a March 1966 CRH meeting, “Mr. Forrester announced that in the future it was likely that homosexuals from the Tenderloin would be publicly demonstrating for their rights under the law and that unfortunately that might undermine the image of the so-called respectable homosexual the organizations are trying so fervently to propagandize.”[4]

Oral History Excerpt of original Vanguard Member Joel Roberts:

by Joey Plaster, 2010

JOEL: You had the butches and the femmes, [00:33:57] and the queens like Dixie and you had the butch ones and then you had the rough trade, those kids were probably juvenile delinquents or just young criminals and they were hot, I mean no doubt about it and [00:34:15] you had to be a little bit S&M to make it with them you had to understand that when you’re giving a rough trade guy a blowjob, he’s using a little verbal abuse but which is music to your ears, he’s going, suck it really good whatever [00:34:23] you little bastard, and so it’s wow, as far as the fairies, and that is one of the words people used for us, chuckers were fairies, [00:35:07] but there, mostly were service, soldiers and sailors going there to make it with the queens. [00:35:11] So you definitely had a butch femme thing

* Tour materials collected by Joey Plaster with Mia Tu Much, Completed 2/21/2011 with the new Vanguard as a part of the LGBT Center's Youth Program.

[1] Citizen News Volume 4 No. 12

[2] Citizen News Volume V No. 4 (Feb 1966). We had heard of the raids that have become commonplace there and that Carlos intended to supplement his signs ibn front. So we went over with camera and flash unit to get pictures for our readers.

[3] Report to the President and Board of SIR. [date unknown, before community house opens] -- 1965?

[4] Don Lucas papers, Box 9 of 21, Folder 9/10, Minutes of Board of meeting of CRH held on March 29, 1966 at 870 Market Street

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