Remembering Dirk Dirksen, fondly and otherwise

Some obscure San Francisco Punk Rock History:


Someone asked how Ness Aquino managed to turn his Filipino restaurant on Columbus & Broadway — the Mabuhay Gardens — into one of the premiere punk rock clubs of the day.

It turns out this guy Jerry Paulsen — who put out one of the first punk zines in 1976, PSYCLONE — was the guy who originally approached Ness about putting on punk shows at the Mab, and put on the first punk shows there. Then Jerry Paulsen brought in Dirk Dirksen — who had been a small-time promoter and TV producer down in LA (as well as the nephew of United States Senator Everett Dirksen)  — to add some professionalism to the theater production. And the whole thing just took off from there. A wild ride until Dirk finally closed shop 8 years and 7 broken noses later in 1984 (the broken noses were the result of Dirksen’s often abrasive personality).

Weird trivia: In 1968 Dirk Dirksen was the campaign manager of the comedian Pat Paulsen (of the Smothers Brothers) when he was doing his mock “Pat Paulsen for President” campaign. I assume Jerry Paulsen and Pat Paulsen were related, hence their connection to Dirksen.


In 1982 I approached Dirk Dirksen about buying an ad in my TWISTED IMAGE punk tabloid. Dirk said: “Why don’t you put on a benefit show at the On Broadway instead. You get the door and I get a free ad in your paper.” (The On Broadway was the larger venue upstairs from Mabuhay.)

Thus started the bike messenger shows. The Biker Bashes. That went on for years and years after. All because of Dirk. (Dirk made a killing at the show by the way. He got the bar. And all the bike messengers drank like fish. Ha ha.)

But Dirk Dirksen — who prided himself on being an asshole — couldn’t resist zinging me. A couple days before the show I came down to the On Broadway with a big contingent of my bike messenger friends to work out the logistics for the show with Dirk. So we’re all hanging out at the stage talking about this and that. And I was feeling very full of myself in front of my friends. I was this very impressive man, after all, who was putting on this big show at this world-renowned venue.

There was this microphone on a mike stand that happened to be in the middle of the stage. And I couldn’t resist, so for a gag I grabbed the microphone and made a rock star pose. Dirk suddenly shouted at me: “GET YOUR HANDS OFF THAT FUCKING MICROPHONE!! THAT IS NOT A TOY!! THAT IS A VERY EXPENSIVE PIECE OF EQUIPMENT!!”

I took my hand off the mike, and quietly slunk back to my friends, red-faced with embarrassment.

Like who was he kidding? Punk rockers used to regularly bash each other over the heads with those mikes. But that was Dirk. Once a punk always a punk. . . I should have popped him in the nose for the eighth time. Ha ha.

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