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Jay Allen Sanford and the Reader

Before Gaslamp, San Diego drive-in theaters, Pacific Comics, girlfriend as felon, Mission Hills Halloween house, bootleg confessions, Jolar Cinema, haircut phobia

This photo of Persephone L. sitting on a grave stone was found after her death. Through most of her life she indulged a fascination with horror stories and all things Halloween.
This photo of Persephone L. sitting on a grave stone was found after her death. Through most of her life she indulged a fascination with horror stories and all things Halloween.

How Sanford came to the Reader:

I was still in the comic book publishing biz (Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics, Carnal Comics) when I spotted the notice in a 1994 Reader offering $500 for local music features.

It occurred to me that the paper might be interested in my stories of sneaking into local concert venues from the late 70s through the eighties, mostly when I was underemployed but sometimes even after I bought a ticket, just for the thrill of getting past the gatekeepers.

I wrote up what was basically a tutorial rather than a confessional, resulting in me being unwelcome at several of the venues I wrote about when the article was published the following year (1-19-95).

This was a minor problem when I first began contributing weekly articles to the music section, but launching the Overhead in San Diego comic in 1996 seemed to smooth things over, at least with places featured in the strip over the next 20-plus years. Around 2000, I began writing occasional cover features, many of them autobiographical.

Sanford's most viewed stories he wrote for the Reader:

  • Before it was the Gaslamp

  • One day, he's a lauded real-estate visionary being handed the key to the city by Mayor Frank Curran. Then, he's battling city officials as they appropriate his downtown properties in the name of some barely imaginable civic Xanadu being dubbed "the Gaslamp Quarter." He entertained the rich and famous in his Hotel San Diego suite full of priceless memorabilia and was romantically linked to actress Rose Marie, though he was actually a closeted homosexual and co-owner of California's notorious Pussycat chain of porn. (June 21, 2007)
Cabrillo Theatre. "We screened The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the Cabrillo the week it was released in 1973. The house was packed for all but the earliest and latest showings."
  • Confessions of a bootlegger

  • The CDs I sell on eBay contain archival performances and are leftover inventory from overseas record labels which were forced out of business years ago...they are not bootlegs." This raised more questions -- if the CDs aren't bootlegs ("archival performances"?), why were the import labels "forced out of business"? And why were some CDs auctioning at $50, $60, even $80 or more? (July 5, 2007)
  • Field of screens

  • The first drive-in theater I snuck into in San Diego was also the first one built here, the Midway, on the northwest corner of Mission Bay Drive and Sports Arena Boulevard. It was December 1979, and I was already camping out for concert tix in the nearby arena parking lot (Frank Zappa, well worth the cold 'n' cramps). (July 6, 2006)
Rancho Drive-In, at the corner of Euclid and Federal, featured a mural on the back of the Rancho's green screen tower which depicted a Mexican village, cacti, and a campesino with his ox cart. The ox's head moved up and down.
  • Two men and their comic books

  • Bill and Steve Schanes opened their first Pacific Comics retail store on Cass Street in P.B. in 1974, when Steve was 20 years old and Bill 16. "We started as a mail-order company, selling to consumers via ads in the Comics Buyer's Guide," says Bill. "Later on, we took out full-page ads inside Marvel comics." (Aug. 19, 2004)
  • Behind the fire at Mission Hills' ultimate Halloween house

  • Over the course of 25 years of handwritten correspondence with my pen pal Persephone, none had ever been returned. Imagine my confusion when my last letter reappeared a couple of weeks later, unopened and defaced with an orange sticker offering 14 possible explanations. My confusion turned to alarm on noting the box checked “deceased.” (Oct. 18, 2017)
  • When your love is locked up

  • During the two days that the jury deliberated, the rest of the world seemed on freeze-frame, and I spoke with no one besides Dee's mom. We spent the time on uncomfortable wooden benches outside the doors to Department 17. Through the Vista Courthouse windows, we could see the TV news trucks raising transmitters and the makeup flunkies prettying up local newscasters, who never failed to grandstand for the final moments of a high-profile murder trial. (Feb. 10, 2005)
Valley State Prison at Chowchilla. The prison staff told Dee that Valley State Prison was where she and other recently convicted "lifers" would likely spend their entire incarceration.
  • One Weird Gig

  • In '84, about to become jobless, I grabbed the Yellow Pages and circled every “bookstore” listing within moped-riding distance of my North Park apartment. Hand-delivering my unimpressive resume took me to a round, one-story building at 6321 University Avenue, where a sign out front informed that Jolar Cinema was a bookstore of the adult variety. ( Aug. 2, 2007)

Hey, man, nice ponytail - What Pee Wee Herman and Lana De Rey have to do with my hair

The last time I had an actual haircut was March 1983, when I was so new to North Park that I accidentally booked myself by phone to get my ponytail whacked at a nearby African-American salon. I had just returned to San Diego to take a job with the city’s first Subway sandwich operation, after managing a couple of Subways in Connecticut, where the chain started. My California bosses didn’t want their new guy looking like he played cowbell with Blue Oyster Cult, so I blindly booked the hair appointment out of the yellow pages.

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This photo of Persephone L. sitting on a grave stone was found after her death. Through most of her life she indulged a fascination with horror stories and all things Halloween.
This photo of Persephone L. sitting on a grave stone was found after her death. Through most of her life she indulged a fascination with horror stories and all things Halloween.

How Sanford came to the Reader:

I was still in the comic book publishing biz (Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics, Carnal Comics) when I spotted the notice in a 1994 Reader offering $500 for local music features.

It occurred to me that the paper might be interested in my stories of sneaking into local concert venues from the late 70s through the eighties, mostly when I was underemployed but sometimes even after I bought a ticket, just for the thrill of getting past the gatekeepers.

I wrote up what was basically a tutorial rather than a confessional, resulting in me being unwelcome at several of the venues I wrote about when the article was published the following year (1-19-95).

This was a minor problem when I first began contributing weekly articles to the music section, but launching the Overhead in San Diego comic in 1996 seemed to smooth things over, at least with places featured in the strip over the next 20-plus years. Around 2000, I began writing occasional cover features, many of them autobiographical.

Sanford's most viewed stories he wrote for the Reader:

  • Before it was the Gaslamp

  • One day, he's a lauded real-estate visionary being handed the key to the city by Mayor Frank Curran. Then, he's battling city officials as they appropriate his downtown properties in the name of some barely imaginable civic Xanadu being dubbed "the Gaslamp Quarter." He entertained the rich and famous in his Hotel San Diego suite full of priceless memorabilia and was romantically linked to actress Rose Marie, though he was actually a closeted homosexual and co-owner of California's notorious Pussycat chain of porn. (June 21, 2007)
Cabrillo Theatre. "We screened The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the Cabrillo the week it was released in 1973. The house was packed for all but the earliest and latest showings."
  • Confessions of a bootlegger

  • The CDs I sell on eBay contain archival performances and are leftover inventory from overseas record labels which were forced out of business years ago...they are not bootlegs." This raised more questions -- if the CDs aren't bootlegs ("archival performances"?), why were the import labels "forced out of business"? And why were some CDs auctioning at $50, $60, even $80 or more? (July 5, 2007)
  • Field of screens

  • The first drive-in theater I snuck into in San Diego was also the first one built here, the Midway, on the northwest corner of Mission Bay Drive and Sports Arena Boulevard. It was December 1979, and I was already camping out for concert tix in the nearby arena parking lot (Frank Zappa, well worth the cold 'n' cramps). (July 6, 2006)
Rancho Drive-In, at the corner of Euclid and Federal, featured a mural on the back of the Rancho's green screen tower which depicted a Mexican village, cacti, and a campesino with his ox cart. The ox's head moved up and down.
  • Two men and their comic books

  • Bill and Steve Schanes opened their first Pacific Comics retail store on Cass Street in P.B. in 1974, when Steve was 20 years old and Bill 16. "We started as a mail-order company, selling to consumers via ads in the Comics Buyer's Guide," says Bill. "Later on, we took out full-page ads inside Marvel comics." (Aug. 19, 2004)
  • Behind the fire at Mission Hills' ultimate Halloween house

  • Over the course of 25 years of handwritten correspondence with my pen pal Persephone, none had ever been returned. Imagine my confusion when my last letter reappeared a couple of weeks later, unopened and defaced with an orange sticker offering 14 possible explanations. My confusion turned to alarm on noting the box checked “deceased.” (Oct. 18, 2017)
  • When your love is locked up

  • During the two days that the jury deliberated, the rest of the world seemed on freeze-frame, and I spoke with no one besides Dee's mom. We spent the time on uncomfortable wooden benches outside the doors to Department 17. Through the Vista Courthouse windows, we could see the TV news trucks raising transmitters and the makeup flunkies prettying up local newscasters, who never failed to grandstand for the final moments of a high-profile murder trial. (Feb. 10, 2005)
Valley State Prison at Chowchilla. The prison staff told Dee that Valley State Prison was where she and other recently convicted "lifers" would likely spend their entire incarceration.
  • One Weird Gig

  • In '84, about to become jobless, I grabbed the Yellow Pages and circled every “bookstore” listing within moped-riding distance of my North Park apartment. Hand-delivering my unimpressive resume took me to a round, one-story building at 6321 University Avenue, where a sign out front informed that Jolar Cinema was a bookstore of the adult variety. ( Aug. 2, 2007)

Hey, man, nice ponytail - What Pee Wee Herman and Lana De Rey have to do with my hair

The last time I had an actual haircut was March 1983, when I was so new to North Park that I accidentally booked myself by phone to get my ponytail whacked at a nearby African-American salon. I had just returned to San Diego to take a job with the city’s first Subway sandwich operation, after managing a couple of Subways in Connecticut, where the chain started. My California bosses didn’t want their new guy looking like he played cowbell with Blue Oyster Cult, so I blindly booked the hair appointment out of the yellow pages.

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