Monday, February 23, 2009

Congratulations! Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter for the film Milk, and now the recipient of the Academy Award for that screenplay,
and to Sean Penn, whose brilliant portrayal of Harvey Milk was rewarded with his own Oscar as well...

The film re-introduced Harvey Milk and that era in gay rights to millions of people, of all ages, gay and straight... here in America and around the world... making this movie a winner, with or without winning any Oscars!

Following are two emails (each with an attached photo) I sent to Dustin Lance Black, the first after his nomination, and the second one just last evening after he won the Oscar.

To: dustin
Subject: MOZEL TOV!
Attachments: There is 1 attachment


Thanks for introducing Harvey Milk to millions of people of all ages, here and around the world via your magic pen. Over the years... I have been a one man army... fighting for all kinds of rights, especially gay rights. We still have a long way to go...
but we are heading in the right direction.

Again, Thanks and GOOD LUCK!
Jerry Pritikin

To: dustin

Subject: God Love US!
Attachments: There is 1 attachment

Just moments ago... I was inspired by your acceptance of the Oscar... and had to send you an image from the 1977 S.F. Gay Day Parade...
Note the Social Security on the building seems to run into the sign 'GOD LOVES US'...
and I am sure he agreed with you... as I do... he does!
Thanks for being so young... and so gifted, so you can fill the future with inspirational... and hopefully humorous words,too.

Cheers and Love,
Jerry Pritikin

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Orange Tuesday...6/7/77

Since Focus Films released the movie "Milk" last November, that is now up for 8 Academy Awards... millions and millions of people of all ages, gay and straight have been introduced to Harvey Milk, and that era in San Francisco's gay rights history, here in America and around the world.

In this age of blogs, the WWW, CNN, BBC, and Satellites... news actually travels at the speed of light... but in the 70's, the fastest way news made its way into the print and broadcast media outlets in the U.S.A. was via Associated Press and United Press International, and a few other lessor known wire services. Chances of reading or hearing anything about gay news in any media other than the gay press at that time was almost nil. Yet in the span of less than a month I was able to crash that barrier several times. Outing myself nationally in early May,1977 when I created a gay theme T-shirt, and again on June 7,1977 with my photo of Harvey Milk making the A.P. wires... and becoming one of the most important dates in gay history. It helped establish Harvey Milk as a gay-rights spokesman nationally, 5 months before he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and a footnote to gay history, again.

Harvey Milk-Orange Tuesday 6/7/77 San Francisco
(c) Jerry Pritikin-Chicago

Former "Miss America" runner-up, and spokesperson for the Florida Orange Juice Association, Anita Bryant made it possible both times. Thanks to her, she provided the gay rights movement... movement! At Dade County Florida, Bryant led voters to rescind a gay rights housing ordinance that had been in effect for several months. The national press gave her, and a group of "Christian Right" Preachers, a pulpit for their "SAVE OUR CHILDREN" anti-gay campaign. What happened on June 7,1977 in Florida was a turning point. Unlike the N.Y. Stonewall riots... the ripple was felt all the way across the country in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco. It was not a planned march; it was an impromptu response to the anti-gay results of that election.

Keep in mind, there's a 3 hour difference between coasts, and when the polls closed in Florida... it was still mid afternoon in San Francisco. The evening news came on at 11 P.M. and there were prior updates showing that the Anita Bryant led forces had won the election. I remember, I decided to go to the Castro about 10:00 P.M... and as I was leaving my apartment... I grabbed my camera gear. To this day, I do not know why... I wasn't expecting anything special to happen. When I arrived a few minutes later... there was a small crowd of people coagulating at Castro and Market Street, known today as "Harvey Milk Plaza". I noticed Tom Clancy, of KTVU channel 2 news, setting up (years later he became the afternoon anchor for CNN) and I asked him if he had a lead-in for his live feed back to the Oakland based station... he nodded "No". I recommended he call it "Orange Tuesday", and he said he liked it. That's how he opened his segment of the 11 O'clock news. There were no other broadcast media on hand. The crowd began to form at the Catholic Church, on Eureka Street... a block away. Harvey Milk arrived with a bullhorn, and boxes of candles that he passed out. He started an impromptu march (not in front of the Castro Theater, as depicted in the "Milk" movie). He started shouting "Out of the Bars, and into the Streets!" and within minutes there were nearly 500 hundred marchers heading down Market Street. Harvey leading the way... The bullhorn in one hand and a candle in the other and continuing the "Out of the Bars" theme, over and over like the Pied Piper of Castro Street... hundreds and hundreds more joined in from the gay and straight bars on Market... and with each passing block the impromptu march got bigger and bigger along the way. When he turned on Polk Street... most thought that Harvey was heading towards City Hall. However, he didn't stop there (as depicted in the movie) but went all the way downtown... across from the St. Francis Hotel on Powell Street, and into Union Square. By that time there were nearly 5,000 marchers that filled up the Square. Because it was an impromptu event... there were just a few signs... but the biggest cheer of the night came when a young black girl climbed a flag poll and unfurled a "GAY POWER" flag. Harvey was one of a few that spoke to the crowd... saying "if it can happen in Florida... it could happen elsewhere and San Francisco, too!" I snapped less than a roll of film, and after the crowd dispersed, with many going back to the Castro, I thought that the impromptu San Francisco event, about an election thousands of miles away, was newsworthy on a national scope. I decided to take the film over to the Associated Press at Fox Plaza... and I was right. They ran it on their wires "Datelined" from San Francisco... the next morning I had a call from the S.F. bureau of Newsweek magazine, asking if I had any other images they might use, and I said the only other one was too much like the A.P. photo. The afternoon Examiner put it on their front page, and it made the front page of the Sunday Chronicle's "World" Magazine. The impromptu march became the blue print for subsequent political marches over the next 9 months as gay right ordinances were rescinded at St.Paul Minnesota, Eugene Oregon, and Wichita Kansas.

It was not until 4 years after Harvey's assassination... that Randy Shilts asked me if he could use it in his book "THE MAYOR OF CASTRO STREET". I asked him to "tag" the caption "Orange Tuesday" under my image, and recommended that he call the chapter "Orange Tuesday". We exchanged a few tidbits about Harvey, and discussed several chapters in his new book about the emerging AIDS crisis "AND THE BAND PLAYED ON". When the "THE MAYOR OF CASTRO STREET" was finished, he gave me a signed copy.

It was then that I found out that he named a chapter "Orange Tuesday". Before the movie... that image became one of the best known image of Harvey Milk, and has been seen in several other books, including Josh Gottheimer's (President Clinton's speech writer) "Ripples of Hope", Chrisopher Pullen's "Documenting Gay Men" and the latest, The "Harvey Milk Pictorial" by Newmarket Press, in conjunction with Focus Films"MILK" movie. It has also been seen in several well known documentaries, various international magazines, many gay web-sites and exhibits.

Ironically, the following "NOW!" frame has never been published.

HARVEY MILK "NOW" Orange Tuesday 6/7/77
(c) Jerry Pritikin-Chicago

I had planned to make it a poster for the 10th anniversary of Harvey's assassination. Then I put if off for 20th, and last year the 30th anniversary... and still I produced no poster. Finally I was going to use it for the official poster for the "When Then Was... NOW!" exhibit at Gerber Hart Library that was suppose to open earlier this month... but because of their many delays, and controlling how I wanted to display my images, memorabilia, pins and posters... I cancelled the exhibit. It will be featured and published for the first time in a column by my friend... Felicia Dechter, in an article in this week's Chicago Skyline Press, and THIS posting of my blog.

Coming Soon... the history behind my Anita Bryant T-shirt... and outing myself nationally in May of 1977, via United Press International's wire service.

Monday, February 16, 2009

In the beginning... The Castro of the 70's

There was a period starting in the early 1970's that I felt like I was sitting on top of the new gay world... well, at least heading in that direction. The Castro neighborhood was turning into the Greenwich Village of the West. Many new gay-owned stores and bars were replacing the old Eureka Valley mom and pop stores and taverns. It seemed like the old time residents were moving, too. And a never ending supply of new arrivals of gay men of all ages took their place. Store fronts, apartments and homes were cheap to rent or buy. I was renting a 2 bedroom house on Alpine Terrace, half way between the Haight-Ashbury and the Castro, that had a view, a front and back yard, an in-law apartment and a couple of garages for $250. I subleased the in-law to a student for a hundred bucks, and both garages for $50 dollars... that reduced my rent to $100 dollars a month. A lid of pot cost $7. and papers were a nickel... and I had an educated thumb that got me rides to Stinson Beach, Mt. Tam or the nude beaches south of the city... and my constant companion was my Canon camera.

In 1973, I talked the owner of Georgianna's Bakery at 420 Castro Street into allowing me to have an ongoing exhibit in her shop's window, just a short distance away from today's Harvey Milk Plaza. The window had a built in audience, because it was located near a popular transfer-stop for the busses and streetcars... and later the subway. I began buying and developing my film at the newly opened Castro Camera Shop, a block away, owned by New York transplants Harvey Milk and Scott Smith. We became friends. It slowly became a popular place that had the feeling of a small town's general store... without the potbelly stove. People came in to talk politics, pet Harvey's dog, or comment on the never ending parade of good looking guys passing by the shop's store front window.

I managed to get my name in a few Herb Caen columns, and worked part time at Sidney Mobell's Jewelry store downtown. My friend Jay "Golda" Platt, a fellow Chicagoan introduced me to Al Hanken, who owned 2 bars south of Market Street. Jay was managing Hanken's new Round Up team in the 3 year old Gay Community Softball League. The C.S.L. was the first gay organized league in the country (now over 50 cities have gay sports associations and leagues.) Jay talked me into playing 12" slow pitch softball ( I was a 38 year old rookie) and in returned Al hired me to do the PR for both his bars, including the End-Up at 6th and Harrison... I also handled Jay's PR for several of his businesses.

By the mid-70's... the Castro was Center Earth... 24 hours a gay day. Seldom was heard a discouraging word... Harvey Milk began to dabble in politics, and I entered a few photo contest with good results, and began to make a name for myself, too. I was beginning to sell a few of my ideas, as well as give some away for free. The city was also very much alive with changes that seem to be for the good... beginning with George Moscone's being elected as Mayor in 1975... I WAS AT THE RIGHT TIME AND PLACE!

I'll be filling you in on events and happening that forever changed my life...
it will not be in timeline order, but more important... it will give you a look
into what was to become my future... and I now called those adventures "The Reversible Light-Year Train"... that will take you back to the time that train was pulling into those adventures... in my life... The next stop COMING UP will be...
ORANGE TUESDAY JUNE 7,1977... that also changed Harvey Milk's destiny as a spokesman for gay rights based on one of my images...

Friday, February 13, 2009


The first TV image I ever saw was in the summer of 1946. I was on my way home from Hibbard Grammar School, and I decided to take the long way home by way of Lawrence Avenue. In the window of a phonograph shop, there was a table model 10 inch Black & White TV set, and I was just in time to see Phil Cavaretta, #44 make the last out of a Cubs game... In my 8 year old mind, I figured that the game must of ended a few seconds before, because it must of took time for the TV signal to go from Wrigley Field, back to the TV station and then get into that TV set!

The following year... some TV sets began to pop up at the neighborhood taverns. I used to sneak in and sit on the bar rail at Steiner's at Kedzie and Lawrence and also Shultz's on the corner of Troy Street. I was able to see sports like football, hockey and basketball.

My dad heard that I was going into the bars, and decided the best way to keep me out was to get a set of our own... so in October of 1947, after getting home from work on South Water Market, he asked me to take a walk with him to Little Al's radio and phonograph store. On their awning they had a slogan... "Where the Customer is Always Wrong!" My dad had ordered a console RCA Victor TV, and paid Al $450. plus $65. for a one year warranty, and $65. for an outdoor antenna. With the aid of a 2 wheel hand truck, we carted it to our home at 4839 N. Troy Street.

4839 N. Troy St. & Jerry with his father Hank & 1st TV
in Albany park not in a tavern-1947

We uncrated the set, and with the aid of a temporary antenna... we were able to see our first image on the first tv in Albany Park, that was not in a tavern! It was a children's show called "Junior Jamboree" on the same day they went on the air , later, they changed the named to "KUKLA, FRAN AND OLLIE".

Jerry with his old buddies, Kukla and Ollie at the Chicago Historical Museum

There wasn't much programming then, WBKB was the only TV station in Chicago on channel 4. they went on the air at 3:30 p.m. and signed off at midnight. Their daily listing consisted of a cooking show, local news, some vaudeville and old movies, plus some wrestling matches. It was off the air all day Wednesday. There were so few tv sets, that the station sent their schedule
out weekly on an over size post card. Our living room became the gathering point for the neighborhood children.

In the next few years, Chicago added several TV stations WGN-TV, WENR,WNBQ and we were able to see kinescope recordings from other cities.
On my birthday in January in '48, I had a big party... that was mentioned on the Kukla, Fran and Ollie show, and a few of my friends stayed to watch the first kinescope of the Texico Star Theater, staring Milton Berle, and his guest was Carmen Miranda. Shortly after, with the advent of coaxial cable, the Milton Berle show came live from N.Y. and Tuesday evenings at the Pritikin's meant a large crowd in front of our 10 inch tv.

During the summer of 1951,, I read in the Chicago Daily News that "Uncle Miltie" was going to appear on the stage of the Chicago Theater.

To make sure I would get a good seat, I set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. A hour later, I was on the Ravenswood "el" heading downtown. I was the first in line, and it was at least an hour later before someone joined me. By the time the doors were opened, several hundred other fans were on hand. I ran down and got the first seat in the center isle nearest the stage. I honestly can't remember the name of the movie... but as it ended, The Chicago Theater orchestra started a drum roll and then came the familiar theme song, sung by the Texico service men, including the loud siren:
"Oh, we're the men of Texaco
We work from Maine to Mexico
There's nothing like this Texaco of ours!

Our show is very powerful
We'll wow you with an hour full
Of howls from a shower full of stars.

We're the merry Texaco men
Tonight we may be showmen
Tomorrow we'll be servicing your cars!

We wipe your pipe
We pump your gas
We jack your back
We scrub your glass

So join the ranks of those who know
And fill your tanks with Texaco

Sky Chief, fill up with Sky Chief
You'll find that Texaco's the finest friend your car has ever had

"...And now, ladies and gentlemen... America's number one television star... MILTON BERLE!"

The curtain came up and there was Uncle Miltie, and he started his "Hello Ladies and Germs", walked on his ankles and did his routine with his sidekick Fatso Marko, and Melvin from his tv show. Then he introduced Dagmar, the buxom blond from Jerry Lester's "Broadway Open House" tv show.

They did a bit... reading a radio like script. Dagmar started by looking out at the audience and saying "I am glad to see that the house is filled to catastrophe!" And then Uncle Miltie looked at her script, and corrected her and said "Capacity" ... A moment later she read from the script "Paganini" and again he corrected her... "it's page nine!" When they completed their routine, she took a low bow, Uncle Miltie again walked on his ankles as Dagmar came off the stage with the spotlight following her, as she shook hands with the people in the first row... and when she got to me, she kissed me on my cheek. Then Uncle Miltie reassembled the cast, put his fingers in his mouth and whistled, about an hour after they started and house lights went down... and the movie came back on.

I decided to stay for another show, the second time Uncle Miltie and Dagmar had new costumes, but the jokes remained the same. However, the 2nd time, Uncle Miltie came down to the first row... with the spotlight following him as he shook hands with several fans, and when he got to me... he took off his ring to shake hands with me.

I decided to stay for the 3rd show, again I watched the movie and then the orchestra started the drum roll and Uncle Miltie was back with his original costume and the same jokes. About 10 minutes into the act... I heckled Uncle Miltie by saying...That's what you said at the last show... and kept it up a few times more... but this time neither he or Dagmar came down into the audience.

But I decided to stay for the 4th time.

Again, I watched the movie. By that time I knew the stage routine, and also memorized the lines in the movie. As the movie was getting ready to end, an usher came over to my seat and said "UNCLE MILTIE WOULD LIKE TO SEE ME... AND THE GLEAM IN MY EYES LASTED FOR ONLY A SPLIT SECOND BEFORE HE FINISHED HIS SENTENCE... RIGHT OUT OF THE THEATER!" I guest he got even with me for heckling him, by making me sit through the movie the 4th time, before getting me ushered out of the Chicago Theater.

Many years later, in 1974, I heard that Uncle Miltie was having a book signing at the Emporium Department store in San Francisco. So, I got there early... so I could be first in line, again. While waiting for him... I spotted a young lady setting up the booth, and I mentioned the story to her. She brought me up on stage... and when Uncle Miltie arrived... she whispered the story to him. He looked over at me, cupped his hands so the people could not see and he mouthed to me
" YOU S.O.B.!" Then called me over, and signed my book...

To Jerry, My Heckler Love, Milton Berle

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Hello, From this point in time, I will be posting stories behind some of my images, and about the choices I made along the way to getting here! In most cases... I found myself at the right time and place... sometimes I was ahead of my time, and sometime a little late, but in all cases... without regret. I admit... I have succeeded at failure, too.

This month, the Chicago Art Institute is featuring paintings by Edvard Munch... the artist best known for his painting of "SCREAM". A few summer's ago, I was walking down Division Street, near Oak Street Beach on a hot day when I noticed a melting ice cream bar... and took this picture.

ICE SCREAM (c) Jerry Pritikin

It reminded me of Edvard Munch's painting. As I was posting this... it also reminded me about the following story...

Back in the 1980's, I was a freelance photographer and publicist. As a publicist, I tried finding clients that had a service or product... that I would enjoy publicizing. Among them, David Kulman, aka "David the Match-maker" who was a gay matchmaker. He was a real life, New York Jewish "Yenta"! In those days... he worked from 5" x 7" index cards (before computers) and the first openly gay service that advertised in the Yellow Pages, and both S.F. daily papers. I was able to get him in a few Herb Caen's columns, and was the first gay service offered on the KQED-PBS TV station's fund raising auction in the bay area. I placed him on one of the first gay stories "OUT" of San Francisco on CNN, in their first year of operation. I also placed him on the Donahue segment of the ToDay Show. I handled the PR for several gay bars, and the publicity for the San Francisco stage production of the play "Bleacher Bums", that was supposed to be a 6 week run, that ran for over a year and earned me the moniker as the "Bay Area's Resident Cubs Fan". This was years before I evolved into "The Bleacher Preacher".

Like I said... I was always searching for new and unusual clients... and in 1986,
I attended the San Francisco Food Show with that in mind, as well as tasting the treats, too. There were over a hundred exhibits, some with well know names and products... and those new companies exhibiting for the first time... and among those I found a few possibilities. There were a couple guys from Vermont, who were looking for distributors for their ice cream company, and a local lady with a great tasting Kosher Pickle, called "Bubbies of San Francisco"! (Pickles and Ice cream and I wasn't even pregnant) Since I knew nothing about cows and Vermont... I went on to sign "Bubbies" as my client.
I had a lot of fun publicizing her product... and created a new tag line "A LEGEND IN ITS OWN BRINE!" When the Cubs came to town... I sent a jar up to Harry Caray... and he fell in love with them over an open microphone. However, within a short time... she ran out of money and went belly up. And those other guys went on to become BEN & JERRY'S ... the famous Ice Cream makers.

Years later, I discovered Bubbies Kosher Pickles of San Francisco were back in business, and I handled some of their "PR" in Chicago, and they sponsored a few of my gay softball teams in the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association's Senior Cup.

As I was posting this... I received the following email about Ben & Jerry's latest
flavors... I do not know who created the list... or I would give them credit... and hope they don't mind that I'm posted it on my blog-site.

Ben & Jerry created "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama.

Here are the latest flavors in honor of the former President.

For George W. they created "_________".

- Grape Depression

- Abu Grape

- Cluster Fudge

- Nut'n Accomplished

- Iraqi Road

- Chock 'n Awe

- WireTapioca

- Impeach Cobbler

- Guantanmallow

- imPeachmint

- Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfucker... Swirl

- Heck-of-a-Job Brownie!

- Neocon Politan

- The Reese's-cession

- Cookie D'oh!

- The Housing Crunch

- Nougalar Proliferation

- Death by Chocolate... and Torture

- Credit Crunch

- Country Pumpkin

- Chunky Monkey in Chief

- George Bush Doesn't Care About Dark Chocolate

- WMDee-licious

- Chocolate Chimp

- Bloody Sundae

- Caramel Preemptive Stripe

Jerry 2/11/09

Monday, February 9, 2009


For over 30 years, I have earned my stripes as a one man army, fighting for gay and human rights.

Last November, when Focus Film released their movie "Milk", (now up for 8 Academy Awards) the movie has since introduced Harvey Milk, and that era in gay rights history to Millions and millions of people, of all ages, gay and straight here in America, and around the world.

Back in the 1970's, I was a San Francisco freelance photographer, publicist and creator of some timely T-shirts... and outed myself nationally in 1977, when it was not yet fashionable to be openly gay... even in San Francisco!

On this blog, you will find images and stories about events I covered as a photographer, including some depicted in the "MILK" movie. I am proud of my footnotes in gay history... and sometimes... I even made some history myself. My Iconic image of Harvey Milk , on 6/7/77 ... helped changed gay history, and introduced Harvey, nationally via the Associated Press Wire photos out of San Francisco. It was in response to an Anita Bryant's led victory to overturn a gay rights ordinance in Dade County Florida. Years after Harvey was assassinated, Randy Shilts asked to use my image in his book "THE MAYOR OF CASTRO STREET", and I recommended calling a chapter "Orange Tuesday", that he did. Since then, that image has been seen in many books, documentaries and exhibits. The following frame has never been published... and was to be the Poster for an exhibit starting this month at a Chicago gay Library... because of many delays, and artistic differences with their volunteer board-president... I cancelled the exhibit... that was to be called "When Then Was... NOW!" The same name I have chosen for this blog...and in the days and months to come, I will be showing images and memorabilia that were scheduled to be part of the cancelled exhibit...

Jerry Pritikin / Chicago

HARVEY MILK / ORANGE TUESDAY 6/7/77 SAN FRANCISCO (c) Jerry Pritikin / Chicago
ALL of the © JERRY PRITIKIN images on this blog
cannot be reproduced, re-posted elsewhere or published without PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION