Sex on Wheels

Playboy magazine throws a sexual revolution party, and nobody comes

At the Fillmore auditorium, talk turns to rock 'n' roll, and, naturally, drugs and sex. Petersen informs us that Timothy Leary took LSD 100 times before someone introduced him to sex while tripping, and after that Leary was forever changed. "So much for the Harvard education," cracks Petersen.

The broadcast media people get off the bus at an intersection on Geary, leaving only the publicity staff and me. We park at Haight and Masonic for a quick tour of the Upper Haight: Reckless Records was once site of the '60s hippie publication The Oracle. Cybelle's Pizza used to be the original Psychedelic Shop, America's first true head shop. A crowd of rain-soaked street people gathers around us, listening raptly.

Suddenly Phil Matier returns, and Petersen must again face the reporter's Scottish terrier-like wrath. The camera zooms in, and Matier immediately goes on the attack, firing his first question as if he's browbeating a public transit official:

"Jim! Where's the sex?"
A gravelly-voiced bum looks up from his wheelchair and hollers, "Turn around, baby!" rendering the footage useless.

Everyone exchanges nervous smiles. Things could get pretty weird here. We hurry down the street to the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic location, accompanied by the bum, babbling noisily as he wheels along behind us. Petersen talks to Matier about then-Gov. Reagan's crackdown on obscenity, and the free-love aspect of LSD that roared out of the Haight and spread across the world.

"First time I did acid was in 1968!" interrupts the bum. "Fifteen hundred mikes!" He turns to anyone who will catch his eye. "Hey, you wanna hear a joke? How do you know when Deadheads have been stayin' at your house?"

An assistant attempts to quiet the bum. Matier finishes his interview with Petersen and vanishes again. But as we climb back onto the bus, the reporter has become the main topic of discussion.

"He is resistant to this tour," says Petersen.
"It's his producer," offers an assistant.
Our bus pulls out into Haight Street's congested traffic, en route to more sites in the Castro. Outside the tinted window, receding into the distance, is our friendly bum monologuist, parked in the middle of the sidewalk, flipping us the middle finger.

Petersen laughs. "To an outsider, this city has not changed.

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