Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Band of Bikers

Posted by baad lamb
Opening this Thursday night, and on the same West Chelsea block as:
      1.  A Latino Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses -  “Salon del Reino de los Testigos de Jehova")
     2.  A Woman’s Prison that used to be a YMCA (and was built in 1931 originally as a Seaman’s Home – “to improve the morals and standing of young sailors everywhere”)
     3. And perhaps most appropriately, the old leather bar The Spike
is this show of found photographs, discovered and exhibited by gallery co-owner and poet Scott Zieher, titled Band of Bikers.

From the Zieher Smith Gallery website: (go there for more photos)
“With conceptual light cast by issues ranging from anonymity in homosexuality and underground motorcycle chic to vernacular photography’s pop-culture ramifications, a warm and generous spirit of camaraderie pervades this subterranean survey.”
The opening is Thursday, 6 to 9 PM, and besides the exhibition photographs, a book with many of the found photographs, published by Brooklyn’s powerHouse Books will be available for sale.
Sadly, I have to work. Please go to the opening and let us all know what you think; of the gallery, the show, the attendees, the bikes, the mustaches, the 70s.
The show is up from Feb. 25 to March 20. Looks like a Do-Not-Miss.


  1. They don't make men like that any more.

  2. A very nice show - lots of small polaroids and a nice book re-creating the original photo album in which they were pasted. Zieher Smith, who runs the gallery and found the pics, calls them "vernacular photos." They capture a group of men that can no longer exist. A secret brotherhood. Pre-AIDS. A kind of open campy sexuality.

  3. HWill,
    Thank you for the report. I'll get there tomorrow to check it out; would have loved to have gone to the opening.
    I'm fascinated by the questions raised here and wonder if any are answered in the show's publicity or in the book? Are any of the men shown still alive to recount their stories? Did the finder try to track anyone down? Has or will anyone come forward now that show and book are "out". What were the full circumstances of the photo album's discovery? Was album's owner truly anonymous, or perhaps known or related to finder who is protecting identities? And finally, is it possible the entire collection was researched, staged and photographed recently as performance art and this is the resulting document?

  4. I chatted with Zieher - I was the only person at the opening between 7:00 and 7:30 - and he is looking forward to discovering some of the stories of these men as people spot potential old buddies and tell stories and such. I may recognize one of the guys and will try reach out to a friend of a friend to contact him (there used to be a branch of the Scorpions MC in Detroit...). PowerHouse books also published "Casa Susanna," another set of "vernacular photos," about crossdressers in 1960's NJ - another fascinating story - and they were hesitant to "out" any of the participants, but this time, Zieher was very anxious to see who might turn up. You can talk to Zieher, the gallery owner, he found the book. It's absolutely not a performance piece (a la Cheryl Dunye's "Watermelon Woman, which many people thought was based on the search for an actual woman).

  5. Besides this insightful book, there's another book about gay bikers. For an eyewitness written and photographic history of 1960s and 1970s gay bikers and gay leather riders as documented in the legendary "Drummer" magazine, see the book titled "Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer -- A Memoir of the Sex, Art, Salon around Drummer Magazine from the Titanic 1970s to 1999." This book won the gay National Leather Association award for "Best Book of the Year 2009." The trade paperback is available at

    The author has also posted the entire text of this gay leather-biker book as a FREE leather-community service accessible to all at