"Leather David" Original Febe's Statue by Mike Caffee
Friend of this site Jose Guevara is hosting a Valentine’s Party. Guevara curates community history. He also tends bar at the Powerhouse, using the venue as his office and gallery. With a background in conceptual and performance art, he has created a game based on SOMA (South of Market) community history: The South of the Slot Map Project.
Find out more and meet the charming and handsome Mr. Guevara this Sunday: with DJ DAMnation, kinky fun & games, Leather David Look-a-like Contest, South of the Slot Map Project, OFF RAMP Mini-store, free SOMA SAFE whistles and more!
7-10 pm. Sunday, February 13th. At The Powerhouse 1347 Folsom Street San Francisco
A well-sourced rumor has it that Mike Caffee, the artist who created the iconic “Leather David” for Febe’s on Folsom, will be in attendance, and will be a judge of the contest. Art, History, Leather and Erotica in one…substantial package. Yum. Come dressed as “Leather David” or just put on your boots and everyday leathers and come out – for the crowd, the history, the men, the music and the atmosphere.
A bit from historian Gayle Rubin on the background of the famous icon and the not-so-very-famous artist behind it:
“Mike Caffee worked in and did graphic design for many leather businesses. In 1966, he designed the logo for Febe’s and created a statue that came to symbolize the bar.
He modified a small plaster reproduction of Michelangelo’s David, making him into a classic 1960s gay biker: “I broke off the raised left arm and lowered it so his thumb could go in his pants pocket, giving him cruiser body language. The biker uniform was constructed of layers of wet plaster. . . . The folds and details of the clothing were carved, undercutting deeply so that the jacket would hang away from his body, exposing his well-developed chest. The pants were button Levis, worn over the boots, and he sported a bulging crotch you couldn’t miss. . . . Finally I carved a chain and bike run buttons on his [Harley] cap.” (Caffee 1997)
This leather David became one of the best-known symbols of San Francisco leather. The image of the Febe’s David appeared on pins, posters, calendars, and matchbooks. It was known and disseminated around the world. The statue itself was reproduced in several formats. Two-foot-tall plaster casts were made and sold by the hundreds. One of the plaster statues currently resides in a leather bar in Boston, having been transported across the country on the back of a motorcycle. Another leather David graces a leather bar in Melbourne, Australia. One is in a case on the wall of the Paradise Lounge, a rock-and-roll bar that opened on the site once occupied by Febe’s.”
–Gayle Rubin, excerpted from “The Miracle Mile: South of Market and Gay Male Leather, 1962-1997” in Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture (City Lights: 1998)