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Guide to the Buzz Bense Records of the 890 Folsom Clubhouse
1991-26  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Buzz Bense records of the 890 Folsom clubhouse
    Dates: 1984-1991
    Collection number: 1991-26
    Creator: Bense, Bernard G.
    Collection Size: 0.4 linear feet (1 box)
    Repository: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
    San Francisco, California 94105
    Abstract: Records of a variety of primarily gay male sex clubs that did business in a building rented and manged by California Certified Sex Educator Buzz (Bernard G.) Bense. The buidling was located at 890-894 Folsom Street in San Francisco. Bense leased and opened the building in 1986, and closed it in 1991 after it was sold by its owners. Legal documents, correspondence, public hearing documents, newsletters, publicity fliers, and other printed ephemera document groups holding events at the clubhouse, especially JO Buddies, business issues, and police harrassment after the closure of San Francisco bathhouses in the wake of the AIDS epidemic.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    Collection open for research. One folder containing personal information is restricted.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

    Preferred Citation

    Buzz Bense records of the 890 Folsom clubhouse, 1991-26, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Buzz Bense in 1991.

    Biography / Administrative History

    The multilevel warehouse space at 890-894 Folsom Street was rented by California Certified Sex Educator Buzz (Bernard G.) Bense and opened in November, 1986. The building--also called the Sextine Chapel of Inanna and dubbed the "sex headquarters" by the San Francisco Sentinel--served as the clubhouse for the JO Buddies and the headquarters of Nomenus, a tax exempt religious corporation with the purpose of creating physical sanctuaries for the Radical Faeries, a spiritual, political, and community group. Buzz Bense was the founder of the JO Buddies, a gay masturbation circle, and has been called "a leading impresario of the city's sexual underground" by Playboy Magazine. The building's space was rented to a number of private-membership safe sex clubs, including the San Francisco Jacks, the Jack and Jill events of the Mother Goose Club, and the San Francisco Golden Showers Association (GSA) after the closing of San Francisco bathhouses and clubs in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. Most of these clubs catered to gay men; one club was geared toward lesbians (Club Klitz) and another, the Jack and Jill events of the Mother Goose Club, included gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and their friends. The building also housed a graphics studio. Various benefits for AIDS and other queer causes were held at 890 Folsom.
    The major contribution of the 890 Folsom clubhouse was its availability for safe sex clubs and parties after the closing of the bathhouses, and members' organizing efforts in resistance to police harassment of group safe sex space from 1989 to 1991. Bense and other clubhouse leaders were particularly disturbed by the seizure of membership records, and the fact that the police checked identification of party participants and recorded their names at the July 14, 1989 raid. The resulting temporary closures of the clubhouse jeopardized its financial health, since some clubs relocated to new spaces.
    The building was sold by its owners and a closing ritual was performed by the K'thar Sissies on September 1, 1991. Soon after, Buzz Bense opened a new club, Eros, on Market Street.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Legal documents, correspondence, public hearing documents, newsletters, publicity fliers, and other printed ephemera documenting the activities and physical plant of the safe sex clubhouse operated by Buzz Bense at 890 Folsom Street in San Francisco from 1986-1991. Records also provide documentation of the activities of some of the clubs that utilized the space, including JO Buddies, SF Jacks, Blow Buddies U.S.A., Golden Showers Association, Pan International Global Jack-off, and the Jack and Jill events of the Mother Goose Club. Of particular interest is substantial documentation of police harassment of the club and its patrons that took place in 1987 and 1989, ostensibly for violations of city building codes and operation without proper permits.

    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged in five series:
    • Series 1. Building files
    • Series 2. Writings on safe sex practices
    • Series 3. JO Buddies files
    • Series 4. Files on other clubs renting the 890 Folsom clubhouse
    • Series 5. Files on police harassment

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection.
    Bense, Bernard G.
    JO Buddies (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Blow Buddies U.S.A. (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Golden Showers Association (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Pan International Global Jack-Off (San Francisco, Calif.)
    SF Jacks (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Mother Goose Club (Berkeley, Calif.)
    Masturbation--California--San Francisco
    Gay men--Health and hygiene--California--San Francisco
    Gay men--Social life and customs--California--San Francisco
    Gay men--Sexual behavior--California--San Francisco
    Safe sex in AIDS prevention--California--San Francisco
    Fliers (printed matter)
    Newsletters