Jerome Caja Altar
His Go Go nights at Uranus were fabulous ....did anyone see him at Fusion in the wedding dress having it torn off him to Stop Dragging My Heart Around? Hysterical.
I met Jerome - at Club Uranus. My first gig as a go-go dancer. Michael Blue said to me - don't be scared, you will do fine. You will be on stage with another dancer. Jerome usually shreds the tape go-go cage - so just save it for him. I thought - well, that sounds fine. I get up on the stage, in just some black go-go shorts and my Doc Martens and started to dance. No one was particularly interested - until Jerome got on the stage with me - EVIL BEAST THAT SHE IS! That was no go-go cage at all, it was a JEROME WEB of FOREBODING DESIRES! Luckily I survived the encounter, much to many people's amusement. Honestly, I don't think I have ever had such an - INITIATION before and probably never will. After that Jerome was always very good to me. Kind, friendly, a rare sweetheart spirited soul. I am glad Jerome's Art is appreciated by so many people now. Thanks for posting this great photo ( I have not seen this one).
I've told this story many times, but I first met Jerome when we picked each other up on Market street after I'd been in SF less than a week. I was staying with Fluffy on Dore and Folsom. We were smoking a joint and getting acquainted when we both recognized each other from 'zine photos. No sex happened, but we were friends until he died. When he was too sick to leave the house, Marc Geller and I would go visit him with Oreo cookies. Sometimes I still find myself thinking W.W.J.D.?
Adam Klein (bless his ample heart) and the late Thomas Avena once approached me about including my work in a book they were curating. It was to include Jerome, another artist whose name escapes me, and myself. They had applied for funding the project from one or another prestigious competition (at which they were remarkably adept at being awarded) and missed out this one time by a small margin. I believe Adam said that they were next in line or runner up or whatever. No matter. To have been included with Jerome would have been a high point....a real honor!
Mine was after knowing Jerome for who knows how many years at the clubs and Cafe Flore and then one night at the End-up at Club Uranus, after another one of Jerome's epic go go dancing wrestling hybrid evenings looking at each other and just making out.
It was about fucking time!
I loved having Jerome up in my flat after the bars closed on Folsom and playing music for him and watching him hold court in a room full of friends. He loved Hole and with some encouragement he'd speak his mind on various subjects, like children, "I hate them. You can keep them. Keep them far away from me."
Inevitably we'd get stoned and he'd wander about the flat looking in my roommates rooms until one of them said, "Jerome is scaring me." and he'd laugh and continue terrorizing them.
I always loved running into him at Collingwood park and other parks and at the Giraffe on Polk street. He was always ready to chat and would greet you with a friendly deranged smile. Nice to see him on a bus working on his paintings every once in awhile, small ones that would fit in a cigarette box. I could think of about a 100 other fave Jerome memories at least.
My favorite memory of Jerome is too X-rated for FB. Jerome was certainly a one of a kind character who had more courage to live his life on his terms than anyone else I ever met before or after him. I'm so lucky to have known him for the short time I did.
Matt James introduced me to Jerome one night at the Crystal Pistol in Mission. Must have been around 88? After that, Jerome was always nice and made a point to say hi if I ran into him in the Haight or at the End Up when Uranus moved there. I also used to run into him at The Lonestar after it had opened in early 90s, out in the patio. We would have the best conversations! He would go there - drag free - in his little Members Only leather jacket, looking for cock. LOL My favorite memory, though, was one afternoon in the Castro. There was a gallery, on the corner of 19th? One day, I walked by, and it was empty except for Jerome, sitting in the middle on a chair, with lots of his art up on the walls. I went in and we talked for a bit, and he showed off some of his works - I think it was the first time I had seen any of them. I thought of him mostly as a kind of "performance artist" at the time, but after that I thought of him as a painter. I didn't see him much, after that. He died maybe a year or two later? I have thought of him often through the years; a truly striking unique person. Jerome, you are missed!
My favorite memory of Jerome was seeing him atop some hunk's shoulders with a lit lighter held high in his hand during Chastity's "Chick In Chains" show. Jerome was a supportive friend, never one to shy away from telling you what he thought. He had a heart of gold!
Go go dancing at the end up. Club decadence every Friday amazing!
I remember the first time I laid eyes on Jerome, it was Dore Alley St. Fair, and she was dressed as Liza Minnelli with the biggest shoulder bag ever, I'm sure it weighed more than her. At one point she got into an argument with a big muscular leather daddy who picked her up swung her over his shoulder while spinning her around and spanking her. She responded by spanking him back at the same time with her gigantic purse. I was in awe, and I think it's one of my favorite memories of SF in all my years here. I miss that fabulous queen!
I remember my partner Dante driving Jerome up to our cabin in the woods in Trinidad on the back of his motorcycle. When Jerome passed through Eureka he said "What an industrial waste dump!" Ha! It still is. RIP I sure miss him.
I miss Jerome and the culture we had in this City. I can hardly stand to think about it all as it makes me so sad. The magic is being drained off SF and with it the culture.
San Francisco: Twenty years ago today, artist Jerome Caja (1958–1995) died of AIDS in his apartment at the corner of Hayes and Fillmore streets. Noted for his miniature paintings that were at once whimsical and anarchic, Caja also was an innovative drag performer who emphasized tatters, trash and surreal juxtapositions over old-school glamour.
Caja's originality earned him esteem as the patron saint of San Francisco's queer punk scene — and growing recognition from the art world before his career was cut short at the age of 37. His life and art are the subject of a monograph by Thomas Avena and Adam Klein, Jerome: After the Pageant (Bastard Books, 1996), and of a documentary in production from The Jerome Project.
Caja's rambling apartment on Hayes Street served as both his home and his studio, with the entire space decorated in an inimitable queer punk baroque style featuring knick-knacks, found objects and the artist's own work — including a flattened and dessicated road-kill rat painted to form a happy face. The circa 1900 Edwardian where Caja lived and worked still stands in the now gentrifying Western Addition.
Posted by Gerard Koskovich
Jerome Caja, Miss Kitty, & Arturo Galster − 3 Queens who inspire me to make the most out of this life!
In honor of Jerome today as we celebrate being Caja's
What a wonderful dedication to Jerome ... I love this page, and thank you for keeping his legacy alive.
As his cousin, I'd like to share my treasured piece of Jerome's art, made especially with me in mind, of the Virgin Mary all dolled up and ready to party, and holding the baby Jesus, who I always felt did kind of resemble Jerome himself. He used nail polish as his media in this masterpiece, so as someone who always has countless bottles of nail polish on hand, it was quite appropriate that I was the lucky recipient of this fine work of art. My camera doesn't do it justice, but it can appreciated nonetheless.
Miss my favorite cousin so much!
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