San Francisco 1982–1985

The longest three years of my life. I think back and can’t believe how much I did, and how many people I came to know, and what grief sits around the edges of that time. So many people I knew died, and here I am, still alive.

I was a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: Sister Viola Tricolor (the scientific name of the wild pansy). I signed our incorporation papers as a California nonprofit. We published Play Fair!, the first safer-sex pamphlet. I was in a couple of fundraiser shows: an Easter/Passover show and the Red Party, where I was a backup singer in Sr. Mary Media and the Cassettes.

I was the thinnest I had ever been, or ever have been. I owned a pair of leather chaps and looked pretty good in them. We wore our Levi’s high and very, very tight. I ahem took drugs.

I had my first emotionally significant relationship, with Thomas Oliver, whom I met at UC Santa Cruz when the Sisters went there to speak to a gay studies class.

I was a member of Westwind International Folk Ensemble. I learned to two-step from Jordan Hill Smith, who was taller than I was. I discovered how nice it is to kiss someone taller, and I also discovered why Baptists don’t want people to dance.

I worked in the accounting department of Dean Witter Reynolds, and then in a marketing department of Pacific Telesis, one of Ma Bell’s children. At Pacific Telesis I learned about something called “hypertext.”


  • Eurythmics (outdoors at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley)
  • Bette Midler (on Christmas Eve. She came out and sat on the edge of the stage after the program and sang Christmas carols with the audience)
  • Eartha Kitt (at a small club in the Russian River)
  • Two Tons of Fun

Philadelphia and environs 1985–2001

4 Replies to “San Francisco 1982–1985”

  1. Were you really in SF only three years? You were my roommate for at least one. You tailored a green chinese dragom dress for me that I coukd still slip into in 2006, though no more.

    1. Definitely only just over three years. I counted it out, and I lived in 6 places: with my friend John Casey and his lover at 18th and Castro, then around the corner on Hartford or Noe with a squirrelly guy named Ritchie, I think, whose parents were renting him a whole house. I think I went from there to a flat in a house on the panhandle at Fell and Masonic with other Sisters, and then to the apartment we shared on Laussat Street. I tried living by myself for a while, somewhere north of the Panhandle, and then the last place I lived was somewhere not far away with a couple people I knew. I can’t even recall how I moved things every time. I dread moving now!

  2. It must have been my Gay and Lesbian politics class that you visited at UCSC. Didn’t you also come to the grand weekend houseparty at my country home on Branciforte? That was one wild weekend with Sisters popping in and out of the redwoods.

    1. Yes, I think that was the class. And I was at your home on Branciforte at least once, with other Sisters.

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