I’ve been digging through the old newsletters of the SF Jacks (San Francisco’s venerable JO club, most faithfully inspired by the NY Jacks) and I am so delighted by what I find there, though I have read it many times before. It is a fantastic window into the ‘80s and into one of the main taproots of Jacks culture.

One piece of history I find particularly of interest—both in the SF Jacks and the NY Jacks who originated this philosophy—is the focus on JO as proud fetish. There was a very clear directive to prospective members that this trip was not for tourists, but for the repatriated prodigal sons of that rich land. It is spelled out with absolute clarity in the original rules of SF Jacks, based almost verbatim on the original rules of the NY Jacks:

RULES OF THE JACKS

Jerking off is the reason for our club’s being. The San Francisco Jacks is a meeting of men who wish their primary sexual outlet to be J.O. in the company of other likeminded men. For a very significant number of members, jerking off alone and in groups large and small is not their central, but their exclusive sexual activity.

  • We’re looking for recreation, not romance.
  • Checking of street clothes upon arrival is mandatory.
  • One of the hottest aspects of our club is the mutuality of interest that prevails. Proud as we are of our club, it is incumbent on us all to discourage visitors whose interest arises merely out of curiosity.
  • Because of the communal nature of the S. F. Jacks, the use of poppers is discouraged.
  • If a member or guest cannot be fully satisfied by J.O. alone, then the San Francisco Jacks is not the club for him.

“…men who wish their primary sexual outlet to be J.O. in the company of other likeminded men…” is a very strong, very specific statement. It leaves out millions of men who merely “like to jack with a bud” or just “get into ‘bating.” The proscription of “…visitors whose interest (arise) merely out of curiosity…” crystalizes the original core of the Jacks’ reason for being: intense fetishization of mutual masturbation.

That should tell you a few things: The original Jacks felt the need to make a strong statement that was specific and erotically-centered. “You must really want this” was, and still is, the core message. 

And consider the history of that time and place: These rules were written in the San Francisco of 1983. AIDS was a present spectre in the gay community and that period of time was already one of terror and fear-motivated choices. A wave of death was already washing over the greater community. Yes, the original NY Jacks version of the rules was written in 1980, a year before the epidemic had even been heard of, but look at the rules. There is no revision for the times, no mention of “safe sex.”

The spirit of the Jacks was the power of specific lust, a particular sexual taste and a sense of having discovered something extraordinary that had to be shared and evangelized… And protected from dilution. They saw all the relationships, cruising, tricking and hierarchy of sexual acts as a morass of needless complication and confusion. They didn’t judge sex or relationships, many simply felt that for them, it all missed the mark…

They sought and found, through simply jerking off together, a connection of equals (“likeminded men”) and a reconnection to a genuine, personal and primal nature once buried under social ritual and sexual politics.


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