Duane Cramer's Bay Area

By: Gay.com

Name: Duane Cramer

Profession: Photographer

City: Primarily San Francisco (often in NYC/LA)
Relationship Status: Single and looking
Sexual Orientation: Gay

What are some of the things you love most about San Francisco?
What I appreciate most about San Francisco is the incredible diversity of people. Our city is not only visually spectacular, but the people are generally sophisticated and open to a discovery of new possibilities.

What are some of your least favorite things?
What makes it difficult to live in San Francisco is the fact that one needs to work so much to have resources necessary to truly enjoy all that the city offers. So when not working and really geared up to have a new San Francisco experience, you can not depend on it being a warm and sunny day. Any other day, I appreciate the fog and other aspects of the micro-climates…sometimes, though, I secretly want a little bit more sunshine!

What gym do you like most? Why?
Gyms in San Francisco seem to be yet another place the community gathers to socialize. As a fairly social person, I prefer to satisfy this need in a place other than the gym so I don’t go too often. When I feel the need to exercise, however, I hold a membership at Gold’s Gym located South of Market. It is truly a nice gym with a few interesting people.

What are some great restaurants for a night out with gay friends?
If San Francisco is known around the world for anything, it is our restaurants…it is a “Foodies’ Paradise!” The city has an amazing abundance of top notch chefs and venues to have a meal in (see links below for locations) A few of my favorite places are Citizen Cake, Zuni, and if you want a soul food breakfast -- “J’s Pots of Soul” in Hayes Valley is the place to go! Orson, which is owned by a couple of girlfriends of mine chef Elizabeth Faulkner and her partner Sabrina Riddle opened this restaurant last year which has amazing items on the menu and a great bar in the center of the place. Another one of my new favorites is NOPA. It has quickly become a hot spot in the city and a place I frequent a lot with friends.

DuaneCandid04 What are some great restaurants for a romantic gay date? What about these restaurants appeals to you?
The wonderful part about San Francisco is that any successful restaurant in the city caters to the gay clientele so there is no need to think specifically gay when you want to impress your same-sex date. You can go just about anywhere and everywhere and expect to be well-received and well-fed! Fringale in the South of Market (SOMA), Del Fina in the Mission and, Universal Café- in Potrero Hill are restaurants that are romantic offering intimate, smaller, dimly-lit spaces that are not places to “see and be seen.” This way, you can focus on your date!

What are your favorite gay bars and/or dance clubs? What do you like about them?
Duane Cramer_Self Portrait_v1 It really depends on what mood I am in (smile) but I don’t go out all that much. Some of my long time favorite clubs such as the Pendulum and Universe have closed down in recent years, I guess most people are socializing on-line … or meeting up on the fly via new high tech phones. If I want to dance to live salsa music outdoors on the weekend with a diverse group of people I go to El Rio in the Mission District. A brand new upscale space called TRIGGER just opened in the Castro (which replaced the former DETOUR Bar). This venue offers great music, a mixed clientele of both men and women, straight and gay, multiracial and awesome DJ’s. I think the notion of a gay bar/club, for many of us, is evolving. It seems like the time has come for all of us to be more inclusive…to enjoy life with others who want to enjoy life. This seems more important to me than your race, gender, sexual orientation or economic class. Are you looking to celebrate life? Then, I want to hang out with you…

What are your favorite gay parties or events, if any?
There is a monthly gathering of African American men called “Some Brothas” that is off the hook. The crowd consists of mainly Black professionals who are friendly, professional, attractive and extraordinarily intelligent. We come together as community-minded men looking support one another in our collective and individual pursuits of happiness. Any party where David Harness is spinning, be it Mighty, Fresh, End Up, Club Papi works well for me. A party means people, music and space…whenever and whenever these three elements converge…it becomes my favorite. As far as events – there are quite a few street fairs such as Folsom Street, Polk Street, and a Carnaval that I attend. There is always a party or event to attend in San Francisco.
What is the crowd or scene like at those places?
Welcoming, inclusive, diverse, fun, energetic and high energy.

DuaneCandid2 Where is the best public place for a gay person to make out?
My Loft (LOL)! … I guess that isn’t really a “public” place. Well, I did have a date recently and we made out on the bluffs above Baker Beach sitting on a redwood tree trunk that had toppled over. We had a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. I think you need to spend more time figuring who is the right person with whom to make out, then let the San Francisco Bay Area reveal to you all kinds of places and spaces to indulge with your special friend!

What is the gay community like? Do you consider yourself to be part of any particular "scene"?
The gay community is not one gathering in my mind, but more a whole host of gatherings or communities which are, in total, diverse and vibrant. I am not a staple in any particular scene. I prefer to mix amongst many scenes and experience new people, perspectives and places. San Francisco is one of the best places in the world to do just about anything you can imagine, indoors or outside!

Are you involved with any LGBT community organizations in? Which ones? What do you like about those groups?
I am quite engaged in a number of community organizations. I have served on various Boards of Directors, such as Frameline LGBT Film festival (which is happening now), the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, San Francisco LGBT Community Center and I am a very active volunteer with the Black AIDS Institute (www.blackaids.org).
I also support some of my favorite local charities with my no fee professional photography work. I help with many ad campaigns and promotional print work.
I support them because of the outstanding work that each of them does in their own special way. Helping to form supportive communities and promote them is central to who I am as a person.

DuaneCandid03 What do you think of the annual LGBT pride celebration? Do you usually attend? What are the highlights for you? What do you like least about it?
In the San Francisco, Pride is not a one day event, but a celebration which begins the first weekend in June and culminates with the parade on the last Sunday of the month. I am busy all month with a variety of events. I generally participate in the LGBT film festival that takes up a lot of time, and also ends the last Sunday of the month. But when I think about it, Pride is actually EVERY DAY in San Francisco. Gay people are generally proud to call San Francisco home and others are happy that Gay people are home in San Francisco.

Do you have a particular fashion style? Where do you shop for clothes?
I am as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt as I am in an Armani suit. I am not that much of a shopper. But my favorite places to unleash my inner retail hunger in San Francisco are Wilkes Bashford, Rolo on Market and Barneys. I do appreciate G-Star clothing and Y3 apparel so if any one wants to send me an unsolicited present….feel free!

Proud09_l Where do you go for other forms of entertainment -- live theater, concerts, movies, art exhibits? Are there any local gay performance groups, bands, or artists that you're a fan of?
There are so many museums, theaters, galleries, talented artists and more in the city. I truly would be hard pressed to name any because they all have unique qualities that make them special. I am a member of the Museum of Modern Art and often go to the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) and the DeYoung museums for timely, provocative exhibits.

If you had gay friends visiting from out of town for the first time, what are some "musts" that you'd recommend they see or do?
I would suggest visiting some of the interesting neighborhoods such as the Mission District where I live which has a Latin and artistic flavor about it. Also, places like the Castro, South of Market, Hayes Valley and the Union Square area. The neighborhoods really hold the keys to understanding our rich, diverse, extraordinarily livable city.

What are some recent photography projects that you have been involved in?
This month there are quite a few powerful and moving campaigns that I was involved with from a creative development perspective and then also did the photography. One is the “PROUD” Adoption campaign that features images of LGBT families on Billboards, mass transit and more! www.adoptionsf.com. The campaign just launched this week. Also, I am involved with launching another city with the HIV STOPS WITH US (www.hivstopswithus.org). I am very fortunate to be involved with photography projects that are important to the many facets of the diverse LGBT community. Through my work, I am wanting to offer people safe spaces to examine their thinking and if they wish, change their minds and hearts. It is my mission in life to uplift, educate and entertain people through the gift I have been given!