After Dark Magazine and 1970s painter Mark Mulleian, photo by John David Hough
After Dark Magazine
In it’s 1974 August issue, this prestigious national entertainment monthly magazine, After Dark, dedicated a special tribute focusing on the city of San Francisco, it’s people and it’s pace setters. It brought together 72 personalities in this single, one of a kind, monumental issue, spotlighting luminaries from all areas of journalism and the arts in one of the most memorable issues of it’s day.

This unique 1974 photo of Mark Mulleian, along with two of his early works, were shot by west coast photographer John David Hough for After Dark and was republished through the 70's and 80's in various articles and on the Internet, now fixed in the pantheon of time.

It is easy to look back to this period as a Golden Age of magic and enchantment, an age that saw the dawn and demise of the hippie culture. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, disco and all the outrageous excesses and innovative ideas of that period, including the threat of Nixon’s impeachment and the reality of the end of the Vietnam War. It was also the age of an awakening of the individual and collective consciousness of the gay movement, as well as the Stonewall riots, and the assassination of Harvey Milk. It was the best of times and the worst, but in looking back, it was like a dream that it seemed impossible to think would ever come to an end. After Dark magazine was there to document it all, the good the better and the best, a time capsule of many great names who are no longer with us today. But like all dreams, it too had to come to an end. In 1983, the last issue of After Dark was published, and with this, came the end of an era.
It was at the height of that era, on a warm summer's eve, Janis Joplin suddenly appeared at the Frank Gallery studio, standing motionless, in rapt attention amidst Mulleian's paintings. Studying both paintings and artist, she eventually commented on the mysterious energies within the works and expressed wonder at their technical expression. Ingratiated by her southern-comfort style of silk and ostrich feathers, lavender and magenta streaking through the air, chiffon trails floating behind her, she made her majestic way toward the front of the gallery. She left with a flourish and jaywalked her way through the rush hour traffic of Sutter Street.
It was during this period, when the After Dark publication first appeared, that rock star Elton John, along with his partner John Read, arrived in their limousine at the Frank Gallery and entered Mulleian's exposition, where they viewed the various works and visited with the artist and his manager Leonard Roy Frank. After making his way round the entire exhibit, the rock star returned to the painting that had captured his attention upon first arriving. He stood transfixed before the work. Noticing John’s focused attention, Read asked him which painting he liked best, whereupon the rock star pointed to the piece he’d been studying, thus becoming the owner of Mulleian’s oil entitled The Pilot Jacket. The subject of the painting is an aging 1940s-vintage, brown leather jacket with a fir collar. From within the dark wine-red lining of the jacket, a teary human eye pears out at the observer.
Many other celebrities would follow: Beverely Sills, Carlos Santana, Nate Thurmond, Shirley Temple-Black, William Kunstler, the Three Christy Minstrels, Robert Shields, Herb Caen, Eric Hoffer, Benjamino Bufano, Ray Taliaferro, Tullah Hanley, Vicent Price, Thomas S. Szasz, David Garvey.
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