"Now there's a good-looking Italian," says Patio brunch regular Bob Logg, catching a glimpse from a corner table. He puts down his fork to get a closer look, but quickly changes his mind. Despite a nice build and warm smile, some lingering laugh lines suggest the man has probably hit 30.
"Too old," Logg determines, going back to mopping up the egg yolks on his plate with a piece of toast.
It's a harsh assessment, considering that Logg is 70. But this septuagenarian likes his men young, and he can afford to be picky. A successful real estate speculator who calls himself a "rich, old queen," Logg is used to indulging his tastes. The double parlor in his million-dollar Victorian home is cluttered with 19th-century antiques and artwork. Chandeliers grace every room. Stained glass surrounds the shower. And young, beautiful men share his canopy bed. But like his Renaissance wall clocks and marble Roman garden statues, his men have a price.
Logg lavishes food, clothes, and other gifts on his current boyfriend -- a stunning, grandson-age 23-year-old. He also pays the young man's rent and college tuition bills. Since meeting Logg, the boyfriend doesn't have to work as a waiter anymore.
"The minute I saw him I almost dropped my teeth, he was so gorgeous," Logg says. "I knew I'd be putting him on the payroll."
But the arrangement is not just about paying for sex. Logg and his young boyfriend spend lots of time together outside the bedroom. They dine out, ride bikes in Golden Gate Park, and go for walks holding hands. They are lovers.
In this gay version of keeping a trophy wife, Logg is following a long tradition set by his wealthy straight counterparts, who divorce early and trade in often. Gender aside, the relationships still focus on the youth and status each lover has, but the other wants. They still deal with being seen and getting paid. The older gentlemen have something pretty to wear on their arms, and their young charges make easy livings.
For Logg, the May/December spectacle is no cause for embarrassment. Every Sunday, he takes his boyfriend to the Patio for brunch, where they -- both of them -- are on display. All the turned heads, long stares, and knowing winks are worth every penny.
"You think I eat in the Castro because of the food?" Logg says. "Having a trophy boy is like having a very elegant car. One reason you get one is to show the damn thing off."
There is always a line out the door during weekend brunch at the Patio. It is a popular place to be seen after a night of barhopping; the crowd is more interesting than the menu, and sex is in the air.
"There's a lot of prime beef around: muscle men, pretty boys, S/M guys in leather pants," says waiter Kevin Vu. "I get the impression I'm serving a lot of people who just met the night before. I look at them and feel they either want sex, just had sex, or want more sex."
Into that charged atmosphere, Logg and other sugar daddies bring their young boyfriends, so the elders can prove to the others they are still sexual competitors -- and winners. Vu says he can usually count a half-dozen tables with May/December couples when the restaurant is full, all quite obvious in their intentions to show off.
There are flashing glances of respect between the older men at the tables, checking out each other's newest buy. But not all the glances are favorable. Logg knows there are plenty of gay and straight people who don't approve of his relationship. He doesn't care what they think, dismissing the negative looks and hushed remarks as envy.
"All the queens, and even the straight women, drool over my boyfriend, and I know they're saying, 'What's that old fart doing with that gorgeous creature?' I know they just figure I have enough money to buy whatever I want," Logg says. "Well, I look back at them as if to say, 'Don't you wish you were fucking this?' "
If the Patio works well for the trophy-boy show, the pickup often happens across town in Pacific Heights at the Alta Plaza bar. There, the scene is as much about style as about sex.
"It's probably the most respectable and classiest gay bar in San Francisco, with-out the typical 800 coats of black paint," says bartender Scott Krumtum. "It's a place you'd have no problem taking your mother."
Live jazz music wafts up to a linen-napkin restaurant, situated on a landing that overlooks the bar. The decor is refined elegance: soft lighting, sleek interior design, and wood accents; the bar itself is made of fine cherry. It's a tie-and-sweater crowd, for sure. Lots of gay doctors and lawyers -- and the young men who like them. There's a running joke among the bartenders that sometimes, they should just call it Father/Son Night at the Alta Plaza.
The older men -- the "hunters," the bartenders call them -- gather at the third station of the bar, where it bends toward the door. The "point" offers the best view of the low balcony that runs in front of the bar, where a line of potential trophy boys are arrayed along a railing.
The hunters know a bar like the Alta Plaza is where they will have the best chance to bag a young boyfriend. It's their turf, and it's where they are comfortable. At a sex-driven dance club in SOMA, where everyone is good-looking and under 25, the elderly hunter is out of his element.