Sidney + Company

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An Epitaph for Sidney

The friendship that Sidney Hushour and I shared began in early childhood.  Our parent’s grew up together, married around the same time, worked together, and within the same month, at the same hospital, Sidney and I were born.  We were family.

From a very young age, Sidney was self-empowered and believed in himself when he found himself at odds with the social and religious conforms of our little rural township.  By the time we entered junior high school, we were part of an elite little clique of high-spirited, intellectual and high spirited friends that didn’t fit into the mainstream. He was the life of the party, entertaining everyone with his unconventional surprises.  We made a lot of super 8 movies of our parties and outings.  I remember one movie we shot where Sidney brought out rolls of toilet paper and we wrapped each other from head to toe and made mummy movies.  We yearned for a new society where things made more sense than than the worn-out world of bland conformity in the 50’s and 60’s that was being shoved down our throats.  We always ran up against rules that needed changing and Sidney was in the forefront of influencing that change; he had the courage to stand up to the establishment for what he believed.  I think it was his self-conviction and self-empowerment that impressed and influenced us all.  Everyone in our little circle of friends was drawn to his non-conformist energy as we set out to change the world.  

During high school he was always at odds with the principal for his anti-establishment pranks, for breaking dress code with his clothes and hair, and for speaking his mind.  Our little clique of friends comprised most of the student staff for the school newspaper.  When the principal began to censor our essays, we stood up to our First Amendment rights and left the paper without a writing staff and editor and started our own alternative school paper.  We distributed the new paper just on the other side of the school property line.  Cars would stop on their way in to school and students would line up outside to pick up copies.  We even had our own pro-bono lawyer to tally against legal threats from the principal and as members of the Honors Society”, we had the support of many of our teachers.   

We were all surprised when Sidney decided to go to high school graduation – he had his own ideas about making it a meaningful experience for himself.  The gymnasium was packed with a graduating class of 240.  When Sidney’s name was called, he walked up the stage with a proud stride, confident air, and a beaming smile on his face.  Keeping his cool, he calmly shook the principal’s hand to receive his diploma.  For a moment, you could hear a loud buzz and the principal briefly jolted and lost control in a minor convulsion as Sidney took his diploma.  Then, they both defiantly looked each other in the eye, as if nothing had happened, and moved on to the next name.  Sidney was wearing an electric hand buzzer.  

After high school, Sidney moved out to San Francisco where he became a respected leader in the GLBT and S&M community.  It was at a sexually liberating time and he was surrounded by a world of like-minded people.  He also became involved with a notorious group of crazy geniuses who called themselves The Angels of Light.  They would write theatre productions and happenings which they would produce with wild, flamboyant scenery and costumes at various community venues around San Francisco.  They were such an extremely colorful group of individuals that the Jefferson Airplane would invite them to all their performances.  A couple of the Angels lived at Sidney’s house.  I remember one very thin Angel named Jeremy who wore giant hoop earrings with hair to his waist.  He would always sing his words in a high falsetto voice instead of talking.  His favorite thing to do each day was to go around the house, singing in very high pitch, as he watered the plants with a long-spouted water can.  The Angels of Light were a very unique breed of beings.   

When I moved to San Francisco after art school, I lived at Sidney’s commune for awhile.  This is where I shot the first images in this series of Sidney with the door and in the kitchen. Sidney always believed in me as an artist, was one of my strongest supporters, and was a devoted and enthusiastic muse whenever I wanted to photograph him.

The photographs of Sidney in this gallery, span over a decade.  The last photo (of him in bed), was towards the end of his long battle with HIV.  At that time, I went back out to San Francisco for what was to be our last visit.  Sidney’s house was a well equipped candy shop for any sexual fantasy.  Upon first arriving, I set out to fix myself a cup of tea in the kitchen, but couldn’t find a cup.  In my search for a cup, I opened the dishwasher.  To my unexpected astonishment, there were about forty glistening, clean dildoes and butte plugs – all neatly arranged on the rack.  At that moment, I fully realized I was not in Kansas anymore. In the playroom, there was a trunk of ropes, a trunk of chains, a trunk of handcuffs, uniforms and costumes galore in the closet, firmly anchored sex swings, a full mirror on the ceiling above the bed, a thousand VHS porno tapes and the rancid smell of Crisco in the air.  Aside from their own pleasure, he and friends ran a self-employed business.  He described the business to me as a “community service”.  They would pick up their clients, blind fold them, and bring them to the house; once inside, the blindfold was taken off and the client’s wildest fantasies would be realized; then the client would be blind-folded and returned home.  

Sidney lived his life to the fullest, stood up for his ideals, was always true to himself, and was a force to be reckoned with.  His strong ideals were full of love and compassion.  His motto was to have fun, enjoy life while you can, and never look back. That he did with pride.  He had no regrets and died with grace.  Sidney was an inspirational influence on my life and his spirit lives within me.  He was a shooting star in his own right, and as many of his time, will be remembered in his prime.

Hand-coated Platinum Prints of Sidney's Toys

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    Copyright John Bonath 2019