Born on October 15, 1937, Clark Phillip Polak grew up in a Jewish middle-class family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After dropping out of Pennsylvania State University, Polak became a businessman and owner of Frankford Personnel and Northeast Advertising Service.
An active and outspoken member of the Philadelphia gay community, Polak joined the homophile group, Janus Society, in 1962, and was elected the organization's president in 1963. As Janus Society's president, he was largely responsible for building the Society's reputation as more politically aggressive, publicly visible and sexually liberated than other homophile groups of that period. In addition, he created, published and edited the Society's monthly magazine, Drum, one of the most widely circulated LGBT magazines in the 1960s.
Outside of the Janus Society, Polak continued to own publishing and book service businesses, which produced and distributed pornographic materials. Because of his businesses and his contentious personality, Polak often had confrontations with local law enforcement and subsequently moved to California after being arrested on federal obscenity charges in 1969. He relocated to Los Angeles where he became a real estate investor and art collector, and he continued to be activist in the gay community. In Southern California, he helped to establish the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Gay Rights Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
By the late 1970s, Polak developed problems with hustlers, drugs and money. He committed suicide in September 1980.
Source: Stein, Marc. "Polak, Clark." Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History in America. 3 vols. Marc Stein, Ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons: Thomson Gale, 2003. 388-389.