Harry Denton Dies – Remembering The Time The SF Nightclub Czar Sat On Johnny Love’s Lap, Laid On The Street, At Balboa Cafe

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Harry Denton RIP. Harry Denton was San Francisco.

From San Francisco Scene / SF Politics Blog of Zennie62Media

This is from my archetypal Sunday, August 10th 2008, introduction successful my San Francisco Focus and Oakland Focus blogs. I besides speech astir it successful the video I made connected Harry Denton’s passing away. Let maine say, again, that it was a blessing to cognize Harry Denton. He was genuinely a typical of the amusive clip San Francisco Culture was known for. But baked successful that was a antheral who, similar galore successful San Francisco, understood that determination was wealth successful having a large time. Which, connected occasion, meant that Harry could truly stroke disconnected steam and San Francisco loved it. Read on.

The Story goes similar this….

If you’d person told maine that I’d extremity my evening into precise aboriginal greeting trying to person the legendary Harry Denton not to laic down successful the mediate of the intersection of Filmore and Greenwich aft what helium admits was a drunken bender, I’d person said you were nuts.

Well, you weren’t. What I saw was the embodiment of Old San Francisco successful action. Harry Denton’s a throwback to the days of a barroom called “Henry Africa” and Herb Caen and the Three Martini lunch, and Carol Doda. Denton is fun, San Francisco style. But what I present recognize that to mean is simply a benignant of eventual state we don’t spot today. And erstwhile we bash spot it, we conscionable don’t cognize what to do.

Ok. This is what happened.

I decided to sojourn the Balboa Cafe successful San Francisco, truly due to the fact that I’m utilized to the spot and thought that the Olympics would beryllium connected tv and I could ticker the games with a assemblage that whitethorn beryllium yelling “Go USA” oregon thing similar that. But I forgot that it’s Saturday nighttime and the lone clip 1 whitethorn merchandise specified a cheer was successful watching idiosyncratic other cervix successful public.

So erstwhile I arrived, the Balboa — partially owned by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom — was boringly crowded. People successful clicks. Scores of beauteous women. The Olympics were connected TV. Chatter and laughter, but the aforesaid familar din 1 hears connected a Saturday nighttime astatine that place. Nothing special.

Enter Harry Denton.

Harry Denton is simply a existent San Francisco legend. The antheral the San Francisco Chronicle calls 1 of the city’s astir disposable bon vivants, and a promoter and proprietor of respective palmy establishments, from Harry Denton’s Southside Bar which was connected Folsom thoroughfare successful the 80s, to Harry Denton’s Bar and Grill connected Stuart Street, and Harry Denton’s Rouge and Harry Denton’s The Starlight Club atop the St. Francis Hotel. Harry has established himself arsenic a personage agelong ago. He has a database of fans — including maine — and a fierce pursuing of people. I deliberation Harry besides senses that San Francisco’s go a small boring.

So, Harry walks into the Balboa with a mates I’ve ne'er seen before, goes astir to the broadside barroom country and during greeting america each — I’d conscionable seen him astatine the REAF Benefit called “Help Is On The Way” the past Sunday — “I’m truly fucked up.” Harry had a batch to drink, and was blowing disconnected steam aft a reunion of radical associated with the precocious barroom Henry Africa. I was blessed to spot Harry due to the fact that he’s truly a bully idiosyncratic who is ever acceptable with a grin oregon a speedy wit, and he’s got an oculus for the ladies, adjacent though he’s gay, which is large for maine due to the fact that helium points a consecutive bachelor similar maine successful the close direction.

Anyway, I told my person Lance, 1 of the bartenders that each we needed to implicit the ellipse of celebrated San Francisco nighttime crawlers was Johnny Love Metheny . Well, the idiosyncratic I’ve known since 1990 walked successful conscionable 5 little minutes aft I said that. It turned retired that Johnny, Harry, and my person Rick Bailey (the famed California Rugby Star and Founder of The Golden Bear Bar which is present Room 389 connected Grand Avenue successful Oakland who passed distant 2 months ago) were each astatine the Henry Africa reunion, and had got a array outside.

I was invited to articulation them.

We were each extracurricular and Harry was successful uncommon form. He was good alert of his condition, saying “I request to stroke disconnected steam.” He did. Harry made amusive of the batch of america and conscionable successful wide was a full riot, occassionally tossing brew bottles to the ground, which refused to shatter — I’m not making this up — little they ruin the sprit of the proceedings.

At that point, it was wide thing strangely, weirdly magical was happening, astatine slightest to me.

Johnny Love sitting On Harry Denton’s Lap

After a time, not excessively long, it was clip for each to permission the Balboa. We’d went wrong for a spot conscionable earlier closing and past had a devil of a clip getting Harry out, but we did. Then weirdness acceptable in. Johnny walked disconnected with his girlfriend, but without telling Harry oregon Rick helium was going to return. Harry insisted connected waiting for Johnny, but yet realized helium wasn’t coming backmost aft a agelong occurrence of waiting and trying to support Harry from falling.

Since the numbers were reduced to me, and Harry and Rick, I coiled up with the task I assumed which was keeping Harry upright. That was tough. At that constituent Harry decided that helium wanted attention. He said so: “I privation attention”, and proceeded to effort and laic successful the mediate of the intersection of Filmore and Greenwich. I successfully stopped him from the act, and arsenic helium was astir deed by a car — but I did this solo.

In getting Harry backmost to the sidewalk I was livid with the onlookers, galore who had taken clip to speech to him and springiness him pats connected the back, but would lone look astatine Harry alternatively than travel retired and assistance maine with him. At that point, seeing them arsenic portion of the shallow and spineless masses that fto events similar Columbine hap and let radical to beryllium mugged and attacked earlier their eyes, I collectively gave them my finger.

I was pissed.

Getting Harry into a limousine was a chore, and I did not win astatine the time, but past Harry elected to effort a 2nd stint astatine laying down connected the Filmore. Only this clip helium insisted and portion I grabbed his arm, helium fought maine off, and arsenic I talked to him astir however the constabulary whitethorn amusement up (“I don’t care”), Harry laid close down connected Filmore.

My archetypal thought was expressed to Harry “Hey, the constabulary are going to get you.” Harry didn’t care, and definite capable an SF constabulary cruiser pulled up, and arsenic the officers got retired of the car and approached Harry, thing bully happened. Other radical — not portion of the throng I gave my digit to — stepped guardant to assistance maine get Harry up. The numbers of radical — astir 10 — was large capable to person the constabulary to get backmost into their car and proceed connected their way: they did.

Harry stood up and held his arms skyward arsenic if to accidental “I did it” and the assemblage lasting connected the Filmore and Greenwich sidewalk erupted into spontaneous applause. It was surreal.

Finally, the assemblage broke up and erstwhile again I was tasked with having to get Harry into a limo, but this clip I had assistance from guys who utilized to enactment for him and saw him. We got Harry into a limo and connected his mode home.


Harry Denton showed maine and the assemblage what San Francisco was each about: idiosyncratic freedom. Laying down connected the thoroughfare was the eventual enactment of state and fun. Something we utilized to spot successful the City erstwhile radical were little judgemental and accusation was little fragmented.

Don’t get maine wrong, I similar — emotion — New Media, but there’s thing missing successful today’s society. It’s this watered-down P.C. culture, and portion I emotion that it’s little racially insensitive and much divers than successful the past, it’s besides little conscionable plain fun. It’s similar everyone’s disquieted astir doing thing incorrect oregon being accused of doing truthful by idiosyncratic other and surely not consenting to instrumentality complaint of thing oregon instrumentality enactment against an injustice.

Enter Harry Denton.

Harry wanted to person aged fashioned amusive and the radical of the metropolis and adjacent the constabulary parted the mode and fto him. It was glorious.

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