S.F. Mime Troupe Appeal Party Flyer 1965 Bill Graham Early Collectible

An original San Francisco Mime Troupe Appeal Party handbill, dating from November 6, 1965, advertising an event which was organized by legendary rock impresario Bill Graham. Within months, Graham would start his famous run of shows at the Fillmore Auditorium.

The newly formed Jefferson Airplane appeared at this S.F. Mime Troupe ‘Appeal Party’ in the Howard Street loft of the Calliope warehouse. Graham knew about the Airplane primarily because the loft was the band’s rehearsal space.

It’s amazing to note that while this is considered rock promoter Bill Graham’s first dance-concert production ever, his name is found nowhere on this advertising sheet.

This S.F. Mime Troupe Appeal Party herald was printed with orange, rust-colored ink over white paper.  In Bill Graham’s autobiography, Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out, he says, “We had thousands of them printed up for free.”

Also in the book, Graham informs us that this S.F. Mime Troupe Appeal Party slinger was handed out on street corners, put under automobile windshield wipers, and – of course – posted up around town prior to the show.

On a historical note, in another part of S.F. on this very night, the new Family Dog was throwing their 3rd dance-concert over at Longshoreman’s Hall. So if you’ve happened across a Family Dog Tribute to Ming the Merciless poster or flyer from November 6, 1965, you’d be correct in assuming that many attendees managed to scoot back & forth and attend part of both events the very same evening.

I don’t know if you can see it in the video, but this particular S.F. Mime Troupe Appeal Party appearance sheet was once quarter-folded, but was effectively flattened out in the decades since. It’s possible that it was once folded up and mailed in an envelope.

Notice how all of the poets, musicians, speakers, etc. along the bottom are listed in alphabetical order, with one exception: the Jefferson Airplane and Sam Hanks should be switched.

It’s also interesting to note how the phone number at the very bottom of this San Francisco Mime Troupe Appeal Party poster ends with “1984,” and is even separated that way in print, instead of listed as “GA 11984.”  It’s easy to guess that this was done to refer to the famous George Orwell novel, which had “big brother” looking over your shoulder at every turn. (S.F. Parks commissioners?)

The entire text as it reads on this historic San Francisco Mime Troupe Appeal Party I handbill:

(Big letters at top): S.F. Mime Troupe will hold an ‘Appeal Party’ – 924 Howard Street (between 5th & 6th Streets) – Saturday Night – November 6 [1965, but year not given] – from 8 P.M. till Dawn

Entertainment, Music, Refreshments! Donation: At Least $1.00.  Engagement, Commitment & Fresh Air!

[And then the fine print, which pitches the whole concept]:

R.G. [“Ronnie”] Davis, director of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, was found guilty on November 1 of performing in the public parks without a permit. The four-day trial was pointless because the court did not allow the only relevant issue, freedom of speech and assembly, to be considered.

The trial settled nothing. The Mime Troupe is determined to fight until the parks are returned to their only “owners,” the people of San Francisco.

For this is what it is all about: Who owns the parks? Chairman Walter Haas and his fellow members of the Recreation and Parks Commission? They apparently think so, for they revoked the troupe’s permit on the grounds the Mime Troupe’s commedia dell’arte production of “Il Candelaio” was not in “good taste” or “suitable” for “their” parks. The troupe defied the ban to test a constitutional issue: the commission’s power to interfere with free expression. Then Municipal Judge FitzGerald Ames ruled that the commission’s revocation power was “a matter of law” and not for the jury to decide. Thus the commission’s powers were not allowed to be contested, and Davis was found guilty.

The only legitimate purpose for issuing permits is to schedule events properly – preventing time or place conflicts. The contents of performances is not a matter for the commissioners to judge. And Walter A. Haas’s idea of good taste is NOT a “matter of law”!

There are adequate laws to handle any crime committed in the parks. Was the Mime Troupe accused of being disorderly? No. Of creating a public nuisance? No. Of obscenity? No. It was banned because it did not conform to the commissioners’ standard of “good taste” (whatever that may be). If the commissioners believe the troupe violated any law, then let them charge the troupe with a violation of that law.

WHO OWNS THE PARKS? [The all-caps is their emphasis, not mine.] The people of San Francisco. The parks are very large and there is room for us all – room for any expression of any idea. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly do not stop where Mr. Haas’s good taste begins.

What is the effect of the commission’s action and the court’s failure to confront the issue? Our freedoms are lessened, for when one means of expression is cut off, who knows what will be next? The 20,000 persons who enjoyed the troupe’s free park performances in the past four years will no longer have that opportunity, thanks to the “good taste” of six commissioners.


[And then down below the line]: The following artists will appear at the APPEAL PARTY on behalf of the San Francisco Mime Troupe: Jeanne Brechan, Sandy Bull, The Committee, The Family Dog, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, The Fugs, John Handy Quintet, Jefferson Airplane, Sam Hanks, Jim Smith, Ullett & Hendra & Others Who Care.

[Final line, at very bottom]: For further information, call GA. 1-1984.

This S.F. Mime Troupe Appeal Party leaflet is pretty darn small in size, as opposed to the 8.5 x11 inches that you’d expect it to be.  However, it was reprinted in 1990 – for the 25th anniversary – in a larger, more standard size. And thankfully, the reproductions are clearly identified as such at the bottom.

Like all such collectibles, not that many people saved their S.F. Mime Troupe Appeal Party handout because it had no attractive graphics to speak of, unlike the rest of Bill Graham’s future posters & handbills.

This vintage San Francisco rock-music collectable is educationally dissected by collector Peter Howard (phone 805-540-0020, or, pete@postercentral.com). Pete – yes, I – will pay TOP DOLLAR for the best of early San Francisco Bay Area psychedelic music scene ephemera like this!

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