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The iconic original statue that set the tone for the gay movement and the 1960s sexual revolution – the Leather David – is going up for sale to raise funds for the Gay Artist Writers Kollective.
In July, 1966, Jack Haines commissioned sculptor Mike Caffee to create a biker statue for the grand opening of Fe-Be's, the first leather bar on Folsom St.
It would spark the proliferation of gay and leather businesses on Folsom, known as the Miracle Mile, and made Folsom synonymous with kink, the world over.
Mike Caffee described his creation in a 1997 interview:
"I broke off the raised left arm and lowered it so his thumb could go in his pants pocket, giving him cruiser body language.
“The biker uniform was constructed of layers of wet plaster… The folds and details of the clothing were carved, undercutting deeply so that the jacket would hang away from his body, exposing his well-developed chest.
“The pants were button Levis, worn over the boots, and he sported a bulging crotch you couldn't miss.
“Finally I carved a chain and bike run buttons on his [Harley] cap."
The statue was much reproduced and many generations of it were made in various media: plaster, ceramic and a bronze miniature version.
Jon Sugar, a member of the Gay Artist Writers Kollective, wrote the following paean to the sculpture:
In the sixties, south of Market was called the miracle mile.
It was a place where leather men staked their claim.
They were rough looking men, creative vibrant exchanging quiche recipes at the bar.
The leather men were some of the smartest people I ever met in my life.
"A woman making love to a woman is the most feminine thing a woman can do.
Conversely, a man making love to a man is the most masculine."
The quote told to me by my millionaire leather friend.
The bars all had butch names, The Anvil, The Tool Box, and Febe's.
Febe's opened in 1966 as did The Stud.
When I was fourteen a copy of Life magazine appeared in my house with a photo of a butch daddy on a motorcycle.
The caption read "This rough looking man is a homosexual."
The photo was taken in front of The Toolbox.
There were many artists associated with the south of Market scene.
Mike Caffee was the artist who created a statue for Febe's which became iconic and can be seen around the world.
Based on Michelangelo's David, the statue sports a black leather cap, bare chest, leather jacket, and fills up his Levi's rather nicely.
The Gay Artist Writers Kollective is a loosely connected social group for people involved in the arts, staging free events in San Francisco since 1986.
Their next event is a live music party on Halloween at the Tikka Massala.
Gay Artist Writers Kollective charge no dues or fees, and to raise money for occasional expenses, they would like to sell the original Febe's statue to raise $350.
It’s a chunk of queer history and a fine piece of art.