The day before "Up Your Dore Alley", I was tarred and feathered. It was one of those kinky S&M things and I had a great time. But the next day, I was going to the street fair and I couldn't think of what to wear. I remembered my old work overalls, shoved into a big black plastic bag from the day before, and I realized I had the costume I wanted.
Yeah, it's embarrassing to admit, but I have a fetish for filth. To me, a guy covered in grease and grime is the most masculine thing possible. But my coveralls were beyond the pale even for me: soaked in molasses, mayonnaise, and other substances before rolling around in straw and horse shit. I mean the things *stunk*. They made my eyes water as I put them on... but I noticed that I got used to the stink after a while.
There were people at the Dore Alley street fair in rubber and leather and everything else. But I thought my uniform was special. I was *really* sticky, which prevented people from hugging me or bumping into me on the crowded streets. But the worst thing was the smell - my friends knew I was coming from twenty feet away. Yeah, I know this was probably irresponsible of me. After all, those innocent bystanders didn't ask to be a part of my disgusting public sex scene. But I thought... if you can't let your freak flag fly at Dore... where *can* you let it all hang out? I didn't get anything messy on anyone.
So, I was walking home from the fair when I passed by Mark I. Chester's photography studio. If you don't know, the guy does "free" photo shoots during Dore and Folsom. A $20 donation gets you a sitting, and then you can pay him some more money later if you want prints made from the thumbnails he emails you. A great deal - and I wondered what my dirty overalls and motor oil soaked shirt would look like under professional lights and a black backdrop. I've always wanted to take some photos completely covered in black sticky tar.
I went upstairs to his studio and there was only one person ahead of me. So, I signed my name into the queue and waited. Nobody seemed to mind about the smell, and no one said anything. Mark was working in the next room, but seemed distracted. He was posing an older German leatherman on a stool, "Now bend over and show your ass!" But when the leatherman turned around, the photographer took off. "I have to go get more film!"
Now, I'm not a photographer, and I don't know how long it takes to run to the next room and get film, but I'm thinking it doesn't take twenty minutes. Plus, there were three guys watching the door and taking "donations". You'd think one of them would be a photographer's assistant and go get the film for Mark I. Chester, but the assistants seemed more interested in kissing each other than working. Hey, it was Dore Alley weekend... I can't blame them.
Me and another guy amused ourselves by making fun of the German guy. "Hold that pose! Mark I. Chester told you not to move!" The German flirted back - staying precariously balanced on the wooden stool on all fours... his asshole winking at us. "Work the runway!" I called out. "Make love to the camera!" In a few more minutes, Mark breezed back into the room, yelled at his employees to "get busy" and then resumed taking photos. The good German, true to his word, never shifted position.
It was a nice sitting, a good twenty minutes and twenty poses, and sexy... if you happen to like older German leathermen. But during the shoot, a skinny blond surfer dude walked into the studio. When one of the assistants explained the $20 "donation" fee, the skater left the studio. Mark glanced over, "Too bad he left... he was hot!" The German scowled.
Finally, it was my turn. I wanted to break the ice, so I had a joke ready. I said, "I just bought one of your photos. I was a of a cow! Which is weird because I thought you only took pictures of men." You can see the photo I'm talking about here. This was the wrong thing to say. Mark set down his camera and starting grilling me.
Where did I buy the photo? What was the website? Did I use Paypal? Was it an auction? Is the print signed? What was the photos again? Mark trumpted proudly, "I've never taken a picture of a *cow*." I began to get flustered and started to question my memory. I was sure I just bought a Mark Chester print... it was hanging on my wall in a new frame.
Finally, after about ten minutes of a bizarre halting conversation, Mark let the shoe drop: there is another Mark Chester! That guy lives on the east coast, and confusingly... also lived in San Francisco for a while. That Mark Chester took pictures mostly of female nudes, though he also did men. And evidently, cows. But not *this* Mark Chester... which was why he went by the professional name "Mark I. Chester". You know, to eliminate any confusion.
It was a simple explanation. He could have explained it to me in under five seconds. Instead, he was wanted to grill me for a quarter of an hour.
So it was my turn, and I stood on the backdrop under the studio lights. "Do I stand like this?" I said, my arms crossed across my chest. But I could tell Mark's heart wasn't in it. "Whatever... try turning around." Mark took four photos pf me, and then set his camera down.
"I'm sorry... I just have to stop. You know - the smell." Never mind that by that time I had been in the studio for almost an hour, what with the changing of the film, and the cow interrogation.
When you do a sitting for Mark I. Chester, you have to sign a little waiver saying that you won't use any picture thumbnails on your internet profile. He wants you to buy the larger version or hard copies. I'm tempted to stick copies of these photos on my recon.com even thought they say "Mark I. Chester unadjusted thumbnail, DO NOT USE" just to piss him off. At the very least, my twenty dollars got me a good story. But I guess if I want hot BDSM photos, I'll have to go somewhere else.