I was doing drag on the weekends when I was working as a prosecutor at Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. It was a very schizophrenic lifestyle. I was considered one of the best trial lawyers in the D.A.’s office. And then I would shift gears on Friday night and go up to San Francisco and do drag shows.
May 19, 1972—the day I graduated from Boalt Hall.
I wasn’t going to attend the ceremony, but I found out the day before that the featured speaker was going to be my favorite professor, Jan Vetter. He’d not only defended me successfully two years earlier when the university tried to throw me out for violation of the dreaded “time, place, and manner” regulations during an antiwar demonstration (translation: I was spotted leading a sing-along of “Yellow Submarine” during a sit-in at Sproul Hall), but had also given me the lowest grade I ever got on a final exam.
It was Berkeley in the 1920s. “The Fighting Swede” was driving through town, feeling even more pugnacious than usual. That’s because he was drunk. The Swede had carved out a reputation as a barroom brawler in the waterfront dives on both sides of the Bay, and he was always more than willing to defend his title—especially when he had a snootful of booze.
So he didn’t feel particularly tractable when a cop pulled him over at Ashby and San Pablo.