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50 Years in 50 Weeks: 1988's Joy Amid Loss

by Jim Provenzano

Bay Area Reporter

Thursday August 5, 2021

Can one page sum up an entire year? The late 1980s, while still in full-on Reaganomics hell, offered bits of resistance and joy amid the continuing oppression, epidemic deaths, and discrimination.

A vibrant advance promo for the annual Men Behind Bars benefit variety show led the Arts & Entertainment section of the February 11, 1988 issue.

Marga Gomez got a full-page spread in the expansive 96-page June 23, 1988 Pride edition of the B.A.R. That entire issue's packed with local and national LGBT coverage, and worth a look.

And who could pass on the sexy, splashy photos and story of the Wet Underwear Contest in the March 17 issue? Originally started at The EndUp, the event sprung a bulge at San Jose's Club St. John, with a $175 cash prize.

But one page to define a year?

I offer up for my additional weekly '50 Years in 50 Weeks' selection, a two-page spread that visualizes an array of nostalgia, hope, and loss: an interview with musician, author and AIDS activist Michael Callen, an AIDS benefit performance of the musical Cats, next to an ad for a live 'strip squad' show at the "all-new" Campus Theatre.

All this in the July 5, 1988 issue.

Enjoy more vintage reading at

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