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Wed, Jul 26


The Academy SF

Art Show: Celebrating Photographer Jim Wigler of "Drummer" Magazine Fame

One night only! Join us on Wednesday of Dore week for an art showcase, reception, and silent auction celebrating the work of renowned photographer Jim Wigler, including photos taken at The Academy's location in the early 1980s! Images courtesy of the Leather Archives and Museum.

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Art Show: Celebrating Photographer Jim Wigler of "Drummer" Magazine Fame
Art Show: Celebrating Photographer Jim Wigler of "Drummer" Magazine Fame

Time & Location

Jul 26, 2023, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM PDT

The Academy SF, 2166 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA


About the Event

Join us on Wednesday of Dore week for an art showcase, reception, and silent auction celebrating the work of renowned photographer Jim Wigler. The exhibit features images from a photo shoot at The Academy’s location during the early 1980s, plus a selection of Jim’s other work featuring gay men of San Francisco during his storied career.  Come join us for a memorable evening honoring art, heritage, courage, and community. And yes, 'tis the season, so leather attire is welcome!

The proceeds from the auction will benefit two nonprofit organizations who work to preserve and strengthen the communities which Jim’s work featured for decades: the San Francisco Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District, and the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago. Images courtesy of the Leather Archives and Museum


  • Academy Members FREE
  • $10 Non-Members


The Academy is currently accepting new memberships. If you are interested in becoming a Member and enjoying all of the associated perks and benefits, please click here to learn more


Beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and food items are available for purchase. Our menus can be found here


The Club will also be open during regular hours for Members and their guests regardless of event attendance. Regular Club guest policy applies.


The Academy is a safe space for all—in particular members of our LGBTQ+ community. We encourage you to learn more about our safe space principles & policies by clicking here.


We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. The event venue has an accessible entrance and restroom facilities. Please contact us if you have questions or specific requests regarding access.


The evening will include a display and silent auction of signed prints from Jim’s long legacy of working in San Francisco.  The centerpiece of the exhibit, for one night only, will be selections from his “Cigar Studs,” published in Drummer magazine in May 1984. Known affectionately as the “Red Dog Saloon” series, it was shot here in our building just before San Francisco health officials ordered the closure of bathhouses and public sex venues. As noticed in the Bay Area Reporter, October 18, 1984, The Academy was closed that year along with Animals, the Boot Camp, the Club Baths, Jack’s Turkish Baths, the Slot, and more.


Jim Wigler’s story echoes that of thousands of gay men and women who came to the Bay Area seeking freedom and safety. Jim (b. 1944) moved to San Francisco in 1979, after living in New York during the emerging era of gay rights and its vibrant art scene.  In summer 1982, his erotic photographs of model Gunner Robinson were featured in a controversial showing at the Eagle bar. That October, his work debuted on the cover of Drummer magazine (issue 57) when he joined the staff and shot 34 Drummer covers. Drummer editor-in-chief Jack Fritscher wrote, "Jim Wigler helped make Drummer the leading leather publication in the 1980s during the rise of AIDS. His work giving 'face' to AIDS was authentic, powerful, and oh-so-very consoling."

As a member of the recovery community in the 80s, Jim was well aware of the growing toll on life - and he wanted to create a project to humanize the plague in the eyes of the general public, transforming the “others” into “us.”  His work initially focused on a series of portraits of sixty HIV-positive people which debuted at the San Mateo County Fair in 1986 before travelling to Grace Cathedral, Stockholm, and London. By October 1987, it had grown to 101 portraits, including Society of Janus founder Cynthia Slater and disco diva Sylvester in his last portrait sitting. After being displayed in full on the National Mall in Washington DC, his exhibit traveled around the world. Jim also created solo exhibits featuring Vietnam war vets, members of the SFPD, and projects for the Castro Country Club.

But it is Jim’s work in homosmasculine gay erotica, and specifically in the leather culture, that is treasured by his fans and collectors. He caught moments of history in the lives of those who fought hard for community, acceptance, and survival.

In addition to Drummer, Jim created iconic images for publications like Honcho, Bear, and Brush Creek Media magazines, as well as advertising campaigns and assistance in the creation of Blow Buddies in SOMA.  He has remained in San Francisco, retired from his professional work for several years, having created portraits for thousands of individuals who treasure his Gay Gaze. His translucent photo of Coulter Thomas on the cover of Drummer 128 is a perfect match for Robert Mapplethorpe's cover on Drummer 24. In 2022, Jim donated the bulk of his archives to the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago, and also gifted the rights and negatives to the entire “Faces of AIDS” collection to the GLBT Historical Society here in San Francisco for their preservation and sharing.


The world’s first LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District was created by a resolution unanimously passed by the SF Board of Supervisors and signed by the Mayor in 2018. The organization’s vision is to enjoy, commemorate, and protect the contributions of our predecessors, contemporaries, and successors rooted in the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District and its diverse and marginalized peoples. United, we preserve, enhance, and advocate for the continuity and vitality of the Kinky and Queer communities of San Francisco's LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District. Having just celebrated five years, the District continues to work to celebrate and preserve the heritage of the community through events, place-making projects including planned markers and tours, and an entrepreneurial development program. More information can be found at the website:


The Leather Archives & Museum was founded by Chuck Renslow and Tony DeBlase in 1991 to collect and preserve art, artifacts, and history that was being discarded and lost forever. Community members helped build the archives, and that support allows it to continue its mission to make leather, kink, BDSM, and fetish accessible through research, preservation, education, and community engagement. LA&M is located in Chicago and can be visited online at


  • General Admission

    Academy Members FREE (log in to receive your discount automatically)

    +$0.25 service fee
    Sale ended



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