In all the time I worked in the music industry in San Francisco (!967-1980), I was never groped, kissed, patted on the butt or forced upon without explicit permission. And neither were the women singer/songwriters that I managed, two of whom were extraordinarily beautiful.

In the late nineteen sixties and seventies, free love reigned in the music business and among the hippies that moved into San Francisco’s Haight district. It did seem to me, that everyone was shagging everyone, talking about it, celebrating it, in the most outrageous manner possible. And maybe that kept lewd and lascivious behavior, at least in this business, confined to the bedroom.

Magnolia Thunderpussy

After one of my first Fillmore West shows, my boyfriend took me for dessert at Magnolia Thunderpussy’s near Haight and Ashbury. I burst out laughing at the menu of erotic deserts. My boyfriend ordered up a “Pineapple Pussy” (hollowed out pineapple filled with strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, topped with chocolate shavings and a cherry). I ordered up “The Montana Banana,” a salacious version of the banana split: upright peeled banana, two scoops of ice cream, artfully placed at the bottom of the banana, surrounded by a little shredded coconut, and a dollop of whipped cream at the discretely split end of the banana.


Herb Caen, famed San Francisco Chronicle columnist was an ardent fan of Magnlia’s and so were rock bands and hippies. I went there often for Magnolias’s concoctions and her free-wheeling, rambunctious sense of humor.

Margot St. James; Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics

Margot St. James was arguably San Francisco’s most outspoken and famous hooker, I met her when graphic designer David Wills and I were hatching up the magazine Music Works: a Manual for Musicians. Margot had an office next to ours: I knew her then only as a licensed private investigator that gave her access to women imprisoned for sex crimes. She wanted these women to be given equal treatment under the law as their male counterparts, including access to therapists, medicines and doctors.

Margot hired me to be the producer of the first Coyote Hooker’s Masquerade Ball in San Francisco at Longshoreman’s Hall in 1974, just around Halloween. The profits would fund legal fees for the women arrested for sex crimes.


Margot St. James wasn’t pretty in a conventional sense, but she had a vitality and energy that drew people to her causes.

My job was to hire the bands, the sound and light crew, write the press releases, and on the night of the dance, hold a street parade, and make sure no one got out of hand. No big deal, I figured.

Margot thought I could do this because I had just quit working as an artist’s manager for legendary rock ‘n roll concert producer Bill Graham. I struck out of my own to teach busness to musicians and was called a revolutionary by a well-known Bay Area rag. Who would have thought that empowerment for musicians was revolutionary?

But empowerment for hookers and for women jailed for sex crimes—that was much more revolutionary. I had great respect for Margot’s cause, as I did (and still do) for anyone that stuck out their neck for disenfranchised people.

That ball was one wild rockin’ San Francisco event, in a city known for them. It’s theme on all the posters: “Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics.”

It began with me watching the Marin County firemen that Margot talked into helping rig Longshoreman’s Hall, while I helped a bevy of gorgeous hookers assemble mailings and lick stamps.

Just before the ball, there was a pre ‘get-it-up’ fund-raising party with the same bevy of women serving canapés to many of San Francisco’s politicos, rumored to be their clients. Sally Stanford was there—she ran one of the city’s most notorious brothels, and so was Linda Lovelace, the famous porn star.

The dance itself was a huge costume party of San Francisco’s gay men and women, bisexuals, transgenders, queens, and cross dressers. The mayor and police chief came, and the only incident was a lavishly dressed clown with a cane who had climbed on top of one of the speaker stacks and was trying to ‘hook’ the chandelier. I don’t remember how one of my crew talked him safely down.2449034427

I went on to produce the next four ‘balls,’ which became among the largest of Bay Area’s fundraisers—and the wildest. The one I loved the most was the fourth, which took place at what is now called the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. In the entry hall were tables laden with marijuana (illegal then). Inside the ceiling was hung with balloons made of condoms that were donated by manufactuers. Margo rode into the hall on an elephant to announce her candidacy of Presidency of the U.S. I wish I had a copy of the press release I wrote.

Margot raised a lot of money; and she spent in on the causes she espoused,

Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party

“The Dinner Party” was held in 1979 at San Francisco’s Modern Museum of Art. A triangular table was lavishly set with thirty-nine place settings, each celebrating a famous woman of mythology and history, such as Sappho or Joan of Arc.010_the_dinner_party_installation

What was served up was an art installation that drew more people than any other art show up to that time. Each setting had the motif of the era lived in by each woman that was honored.

Other rooms in that installation honored women’s home arts: crochet, lace, china painting, weavings—some of the finest I have ever seen.


The ‘draw’ of that show, however, which had people waiting in line for many blocks and for many months, were Judy Chicago’s fourteen-inch china-painted sculptured plates that were modeled on women’s vaginas.

The Dinner Party has a permanent home at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Musuem, New York.

Stella Resnick

My friend Stella, who lived in San Francisco in the nineteen seventies, was just beginning her career as a clinical psychologist specializing in sexual enrichment in relationships.

When she moved to Los Angeles, she grew a large private practice and wrote two ground-breaking books: The Heart of Desire: Keys to the Pleasures of Love and The Pleasure Zone: Why We Resist Good

Stella and I often talked about those free-wheeling days in San Francisco, often in her outdoor redwood hot tub. I credit her for saying, “We had ten years of free love,”

That was before the tragic aids epidemic that hit so many cities like an out of control freight train.

And perhaps before the lewd behavior of men and sexual harassment of women that has crept into all walks of life and dominates media news.

I applaud the women speaking out. It can’t be easy.


Artist Management: One Long Game of Creative Chutzpah

The first months that I worked as an artist’s manager for Bill Graham at Fillmore Management in 1969 was like attending an anarchist university. There were no structured courses, no schedule, no time clocks and no rules. Not only did I not know what I did not know; I didn’t know how tangled and corrupt some of the knowledge that eventually came my way would be and the toll it would take on me and the artists that I managed.

I was the only woman in management level in a building that encompassed Fillmore Records, Millard (Talent) Agency and Fillmore Management. I looked naïve and was on a lot of levels. Management was a competitive game with shifting team members within the company, a dynamic it took some getting used to. Sometimes learning was about what others didn’t know.

Management of bands at Fillmore Management was a lot more complex than just finding gigs for the bands and acting as surrogate den mother. My job included being the main money boss, chief sales person, contract negotiator, publishing administrator, mediator, press agent and person that hired and fired supplemental personnel, including musicians not central to the core band. I was expected to be conversant and knowledgeable about all the contracts that my bands had or would face.

My first surprise was that I learned it was ‘illegal’ in California (and a few other states) for artist managers to get gigs for their bands. That was the job of booking agents. The only time I saw this to be a real problem was when bands and their managers got crosswise with each other and bands then had an excuse to fire the manager.

It was also illegal for bands to play clubs that weren’t union. Jobs in union clubs were very difficult to come by for Lamb, Victoria or Pamela Polland. They were reserved for major rock bands that would fill the club with drinking customers.

And unless bands had big draws (audiences) outside of town, booking agents only got gigs for them during the three months after their records were released by ‘packaging’ them with more established artists. That was the harshest lesson about working with the Millard Agency. Sometimes members of Millard Agency would throw us a booking bone, often not.

Rock ‘n roll dominated the Fillmore conglomerate that included Santana, Beautiful Day, Elvin Bishop and Cold Blood. Bill Graham would try and book Lamb or Victoria at Fillmore, but more often than not, they would be packaged with name rock bands. When Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young headlined Fillmore West, the bands sequenced at the bottom of the poster were Cold Blood-Joy of Cooking -Lamb. I never asked Bill whether the puns were intended.DownloadedFile-1

Fighting within the company for attention to my bands was ongoing throughout the five years I worked there. it helped prepare me for the same dynamic when by bands had their records released on major labels (next vignette).

Maneuvering in these craggy shoals to make sure that my bands had paying work was chancy.

Creative Chutzpah
Bill Graham was not unaware that I was spending time on his nickel managing Pamela and looking for record deals for her. One day, he summoned me to the front office.

Gruff voice. “Why am I paying you to manage Pamela Polland?”

“First of all, at the time you hired me, I was getting it on for all the acoustic bands in the city. And fulfilling some management capacities for Lamb and Victoria by fiat. What was good for them was equally good for Pamela.” I took a breath.

“And second of all?” He said, more gruffly. His eyes bore right into mine.

“Second, the issue doesn’t seem to be that I’m not doing a stellar job for Lamb and Victoria. What is at issue is that you don’t want to sign Pamela to Fillmore Management. But neither do you want to lose my services on behalf of Lamb or Victoria. So maybe one way to resolve this is to cut a new deal. I’ll give you a small percentage of my management percentage for Pamela, in exchange for the same from Lamb and Victoria. Salary remains the same.”

This deal had come to me in a creative flash. It was a way out for both of us.

The offer came so far out of left field that Bill just stood there for quite a few minutes without saying anything. Then he held out his hand and we shook on it.