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Buzz Bense Records of the 890 Folsom Clubhouse
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Records of a variety of primarily gay male sex clubs that did business in a building rented and managed by California Certified Sex Educator Buzz (Bernard G.) Bense. The building 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 harassment after the closure of San Francisco bathhouses in the wake of the AIDS epidemic.
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.
0.4 linear feet (1 box)
Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
Collection open for research. One folder containing personal information is restricted.