While living with Jim Archiquette on 14th Street in San Francisco, we were still hippies and like a lot of former male hippies, had now realized we were "gay" too. Most of us had long hair and used pot and psychedelics. The first time I saw the Cockettes at the old Palace theater at 1741 Broadway in San Francisco, I think I was on PCP. I was not a big fan of PCP but Jim loved it, as did our room mate and Jim's former army buddy, Kenny.
I remember walking in the theater with PCP legs- it felt like it was a lot of effort to take each step. Upon arrival, there was a mob scene in front of the theater. It was like a great Hollywood movie premier. I believe they may have even had a klieg light shining into the sky. I also seem to remember some high end vehicles parked outside and I do know that Truman Capote and Rex Reed attended at least one performance. I remember bringing cheap champagne as well and sitting in the balcony. People passed joints down the row in which we were sitting. The show was supposed to start at midnight but always started much later than that. People would be applauding anything taking place on the main floor. There were times the whole theater was stomping their feet in anticipation for the show.
We attended Journey to the Center of Uranus and Pearls Over Shanghai. Years later, I would enjoy David Weissman's film, "The Cockettes."
The Cockettes had a falling out in 1971, when one of the main members, Hibiscus left to form another group called "The Angels of Light."
Cockette videos on Youtube:
Thrillpeddlers Revival of Pearls Over Shanghai:
Youtube video of Sylvester at the Palace Theater Feb 1971- I attended one of these shows and The Pointer Sisters sang backup:
The following is from a letter to my mom about Jim's army buddy, Kenny, overdosing on pcp, drinking drano and dying:
"This has been a terrifying week. One of the people I had shared this flat with, had eaten dinners with, watche t.v. with and in general just lived with as part of our "family" flipped out.
Monday morning I heard some scruffling in his room and so got up to see what the noise was. He was writheing acrosss the floor, apparently overdosed on drugs. He was literally, bouncing off the walls. I was home alone and was afraid to leave him to call an ambulance but I left him on the floor and ran downstairs and frantically called.
Jim was home by the time the ambulance got there and we decided that if we left him alone, he would probably just come down from the 12 tablets of pcp he had overdosed on, so the ambulance people left.
The day was insane. I went on to school and when I got home, Kenny was still acting strange and would continue to be acting strange through the evening and then Jim went back to work. By this time Kenny was sitting up and had gained enough consciousness to know his own name and to be able to recognize me. We talked for a while and he was very confused, somewhat disoriented and talking about dying. I read to him a little from a book we had in the house about "ego death," thinking that it might explain what had happened to him and that actually he wasn't literally, physically dead.
I finally went back to thinking he was coming down and a little more together. He was conversing and it seemed as if he thought he was okay. The next day, which I think was Tuesday, we kept an eye on him and he seemed perfectly alright and it was going to be just another day. Kenny had always enjoyed getting high and had taken what I considered very large amounts of drugs before. I had never liked pcp but Kenny and Jim seemed to love it.
Evening came around and Jim and I were getting dinner ready. We watched a t.v. show and then Jim went to bed and I read for a while. We lost track of what Kenny was doing. Jim was up and went upstairs to see if Kenny was ready to eat because dinner had been cooking and now it was ready. Jim came downstairs looking frightened. There was a glass of what seeemed to be drano mixed with water by the side of Kenny's bed. It dawned on us what might have happened. We looked all over the house for him, out in the back yard and then I ran around the nieghborhood as Jim called the hospitals and police. We settled down in a while and figured we could only wait for him to come back. The doorbell rang and I ran downstairs to answer it. Kenny was leamed against it, spitting up blood. He couldn't speak. Only a gurgling sound came from this throat and blood spurted out from his mouth when he attempted to speak. Jim called an ambulance. Intense chaos followed as we waited for the ambulance. Finally they came and Jim rode to the hospital with them.
I followed them to the hospital about fifteen mintues later and got to the hospital just as they were taking Kenny into the operating room. The lye in the drano had burned his mouth and esophagus pretty bad. He wanted to die. We had never known it in months of living together. Jim hadn't known it in years of friendship.
We waited. The operation discovered that he would proably never be able to eat food again through his mouth. He would require a tube to be fed. He was the most critical patient in the hospital at that moment. Jim called his mother and I went home. I had school the next day.
The doctors told Jim the next day that when he had regained consiousness, he had tried to pull out the I.V's. When given a pencil to write something, he tried to stab himself. He had no will to live. They think that he will live, though probably just to attempt suicide again.
I didn't know what to think. Jim and I were in shock. It would be a week before he can have visitors but I won't know what to say when I go to see him. Jim works at the hospital as an orderly and has been able to see him. I am overwhelmed with the circumstances.
Jim and I are going to try and go see Darlene for Thanksgiving but now we will probably be busy getting soemone to move in to help pay rent. Kenny won't be back for a while. We will probably be visiting him a lot. I just don't know what's going to be happening now. I hope that you will write back something enlightening. I look forward to your letters even if I hardly ever write back.
My typing is so bad and I'm too lazy to retype this letter and it's frustrating to send it. My handwriting is....
It's late. The cats are playing. The hamster is sleeping. The fishes are warm. Nobody's fed. I guess I'll feed the fish tonight. One, who's name is Simon Siamese has tail rot and I don't think he's going to live.
It's raining. San Francisco is a fantastic city. You said that you might come through visiting. I wish you would. Write, Love me. "
Kenny had been Jim's army buddy and had been a room mate of Jim when I had moved in with Jim when he lived on 24th street. I don't remember that he lived with us when we initially moved to 14th street. I think that he may have been part of why we moved to Shotwell.
Kenny died a few days after I wrote the letter to my mom. Jim and I ended up moving back to the same previous building we lived in on 14th street. I was paying $60/month rent and $28.00 in food stamps. I'm not sure exactly whre I was getting the sixty dollars a month from though. I did attend classes at City College intermittently and may have used school grants. I was taking a class in Real Estate Law, a basic English class, Music Appreciation and Critical Thinking. I think that I just quit going to the Real Estate and Critical thinking classes as I didn't understand that you must withdraw from classes if you decided to quit going. I got an "F" in each of these because I did not do the withrawal procedure.