This black and white work by Jim James is from the late seventies to late nineties. It was a time of transition from the good old days, or the golden era of gay, to the challenging, difficult AIDS Years. He joined the great gay migration to SF in 1979. When just the thought or rumor of being gay was dangerous, and the hysteria of AIDS gripped the nation, here was a generation of men living openly, proudly, defiantly, flamboyantly, and flawlessly!
The Castro, South of Market, and Polk Street felt like movie sets, a constant costume party twenty-four seven. Elaborate festivals, fundraisers and parades were staged every weekend with intense, heavy cruising everywhere, and always some kind of sex behind the next half closed door or corner. It was against this backdrop that Jim’s photography blossomed. A delicious buffet of gorgeous, beautiful, outrageous people he either knew, got to know, or wanted to know. He tried to capture the flavor and feel of those times, these images are the result.
Jim learned and perfected his skills at the Harvey Milk Photography Center, the San Francisco Art Institute, and on the streets of San Francisco. He shoots with minimalist equipment, with a quick, gentle style that captures people, events, and places at their best.
His work is influenced by Diane Arbus’ sensational counter-culture portraits, the Infamous Weegee’s gritty street and nightclub photography, Bob Mizer’s sexy beefcake, and Robert Mapplethorpe’s elegant nudes. He’s currently working on an ebook of his travels to Thailand’s famous gay hot spot, Dongtan Beach.
All images © Jim James, all rights reserved.