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Pat Rocco photographs and papers

 Collection
Identifier: Coll2007-006

Dates

  • circa 1900-2014
  • Majority of material found within 1970-2000

Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biography

Pat Rocco, an entertainer, photographer, and an activist has appeared on radio and on television; performed, produced and directed for the stage; photographed, produced, and directed motion pictures; participated, organized and documented the struggle for equal rights for gays and lesbians in Southern California and in Hawaii; provided emergency shelter and job training for the homeless, and has been with his partner, David Kirk Ghee (known as David Kirk), since 1972.

Born February 09, 1934, Pasquale Vincent Serrapica lived in Brooklyn until he and his family relocated to California in 1946. As a child Pat loved to entertain his family and friends by singing, as a teenager he was featured twice weekly for two years on a Pasadena radio station, KWKW. After completing high school at home for his unwillingness to renounce his homosexuality, Pat attended colleges and worked at a defense plant in Monrovia, California. While working he meet a local Youth for Christ director, Chuck Leviston; after a second meeting, Pat left college to sing for Youth for Christ. During this time Pat recorded an album of devotion music for Cornerstone Records. In 1954, theatrical programs document his adoption of the stage name, Pat Rocco; in 1966 he officially changed his name. For the remainder of the 1950s Rocco sang on stage in musicals, toured with country with Marge and Gower Champion, and appeared as a member of the "Top Twenty" on the "Tennessee Ernie Ford Show". Also during this period Rocco began to photograph theatrical performances. In June of 1960 he left the stage to become the owner and operator of a motion picture theater in Moorpark, California and later district manager for three motion picture theaters and a skating rink. In 1962, Rocco returned to the stage as managing director and went on to produce and direct several stage shows and musicals until the late 1960s.

In 1967, he answered an advertisement to shoot still photographs of nude male models, Rocco soon realized the potential of this enterprise and began shooting his own motion pictures. Named after an earlier business, Bizarre Production sold photographs and short non-explicit erotic motion pictures by mail-order. The Park Theater near McArthur Park in Los Angeles expressed interest in showing Rocco's motion picture along others of gay interest to the general public. After the success of the first program the Park Theater sought more programs of short motion pictures. Rocco later added Bizarre News Films to his programs, capturing local protests and interviews on film.

His motion pictures attracted an audience of like minded individuals that appreciated the beauty of the human form and Rocco's positive depiction of gay intimacy. In appreciation of his films Dick Winters and others formed The Society of Pat Rocco Enlightened Enthusiasts (SPREE). SPREE met monthly for nine and half years (1968-1978) as a primarily gay male theatrical company and social organization. During this time Bizarre Productions cease to exist as the industry turned to more explicit depictions of sex, however Rocco continued to photograph events and protests in Southern California for a number of gay newspapers.

He became increasing involved in the struggle for equal rights for the gays and lesbians in the community and through the Democratic Party. Rocco campaigned for the resumption of the Christopher Street West (CSW) pride parade, developed and championed the idea of an accompanying festival, and the participation of a float from the gay and lesbian community in the annual Santa Claus Lane Parade in Hollywood. Rocco also organized events to raise money for those arrested at the Mark IV "Slave Auction" and to pay tribute to Councilman Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. He collaborated in organizing and participated in numerous organizations and events in Southern California. As Rocco worked in the community he became aware of the need for emergency housing for gay, lesbian, and transgendered individuals in Los Angeles.

Through the auspices of the United States Mission, Rocco branded his own emergency housing program, Hudson House, that rewarded industry, provided meals, and later job training to those in need. Rocco operated Hudson Houses in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Hawaii.

As of 2015, Rocco and his partner have retired to Hawaii where they continue to be active in the community and in the struggle for equal rights for LGBTQ people.

Extent

84.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

English

Abstract

Photographs, scripts, programs, and related records documenting Pat Rocco's careers in radio, television, and theater; erotic photography; journalism; provider of emergency shelter for the homeless. Rocco was known for his charity, organizational, and collaborative work on behalf of gay and lesbian community in Southern California, primarily Los Angeles, and later in Hawaii. The bulk of the collection documents Rocco's life from 1970 through 1990.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically with the following exceptions, that are arranged alphabetically: the Community Series, the Miscellaneous Photographs by Personal Name Subseries, Miscellaneous Photographs by Subject Subseries, and the Hawaii Photographs Series.

Acquisition Information

The collection consists of a series of donations from Rocco starting in the 1980s through 2014 and the transfer of a Rocco collection from the Lesbian/Gay Archives of San Diego in 1992. Deed of gift dated June 28, 2007.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Michael C. Oliveira, with assistance from Lee McEvoy, Jim D. Deaton, Richard French, Marisela Guzman, and Erinne Wells, 2007.

Title
Finding Aid to the Pat Rocco Photographs and Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Michael C. Oliveira
Date
© 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English
Sponsor
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission in 2007. Processing the accretion to this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources in 2015.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

Contact:
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771