Pride Month — The Rawhide II

Frankly, I don’t remember the occasion, but I once spent the night at my brother’s apartment in San Francisco, right across the street from the backdoor of the famous Rawhide II bar. I didn’t know about that then.

According to Preserving LGBT Historic Sites in California, “The Rawhide II bar at 280 7th Street in South of Market was ‘the’ country and western bar for San Francisco’s LGBTQ communities from 1982 to the early 2000s. It was legendary for its line-dancing and free western dance lessons.

This is the backdoor of the Rawhide II I saw from my brother’s apartment.

“The Rawhide II is also famous as the site of the first of many protests against the filming of “Basic Instinct” in San Francisco in 1991. Many LGBTQ groups objected to the movie’s homophobic and misogynistic themes.

“On April 10, 1991, dozens of members of the Queer Nation sister group Labia picketed in front of Rawhide II because the bar’s owner, Ray Chalker, allowed the first scenes of the movie to be filmed there. Protests continued at various filming sites throughout San Francisco — some ending in arrests — until the “Basic Instinct” film crew left for Los Angeles.”

My brother wasn’t going to be home this particular night, but he told me his neighborhood was “kind of sketchy,” and he encouraged me to get one of those awful steering wheel lock bars because so many cars got stolen in the area. Remember those? They were all the rage for a while.

An ad for the Rawhide II.

Luckily, I found a parking place out in front on a narrow street that seemed more like an alley than a street, climbed the stairs to my brother’s third floor apartment and checked out his record collection. Our musical tastes differed, and he was really into what became known as garage band music. When we were kids, he tried to convince me Paul Revere and the Raiders were better than the Beatles. Years later he told me he had changed his mind about that and I had been right after all,

I kicked off my shoes and tried to get some sleep, but every time I almost dozed off, someone walked out of the backdoor of the Rawhide II, and 1980’s country music blared out into the neighborhood. I like a lot of different varieties of country music (this was the Urban Cowboy era when everyone went country — just look at them boots!), but I was trying to get some rest.

Finally I got to sleep but was awakened by two men, one in drag, having an argument right in front of my brother’s house. It was one of those jealous, “I saw you looking at him,” spats. Then it escalated into a noisy slapping contest (the man in drag had his wig knocked off into the street) as the two men took turns smacking each other back and forth one after the other. A lot of B words flying around.

Finally, I opened my brother’s front window, leaned out and yelled in my best  Brooklyn accent — “Hey, I’m trying to get some sleep up here!”

To their credit, the two men got in their car and drove away, still jabbering at each other.