John William Calcaterra, better known in the South Florida LGBT community as Pompano Bill, died Wednesday. He was 92.
“We have lost an icon of our community. Pompano Bill was one of the kindest, funniest and greatest men you could have ever met in your lifetime,” Terry DeCarlo said.
Pompano Bill was a fixture in the South Florida LGBT nightlife scene for decades. He always had a camera with him.
“I think he has all of our lives on film.... I know he has mine too, he used to give me albums of old pictures for birthdays...,” DeCarlo said on Facebook. “[This is] truly heartbreaking to know we won’t see him again and to hear him yelling at us to put our drinks down before he would take a picture. Loved that man so much!”
Pompano Bill had been ill for the past few months, fighting off a series of maladies, but said former nightclub owner Toni Barone, who was with him Tuesday night, “he was a trooper, a hero, and a star in our community. He is someone very special to all of us.”
Norm Kent, SFGN’s publisher, added, “He was a magical man whose energy and infectious enthusiasm captured our hearts and minds. Scores of tributes will so appropriately follow, expressing love and affection for this remarkable soul. We will try to give life to them all here on the pages of SFGN.”
Below is a brief profile SFGN wrote about Pompano Bill in 2014 when SFGN named him to its annual OUT50 list.
Pompano Bill remembers when he arrived in South Florida.
“There was no animosity,” Bill recalled, describing the attitudes at the time. “I gave people a kiss on the cheek and nobody cared. I gave my straight friends kisses too.”
Bill, whose real name is John William Calcaterra, retired to Broward County after 36 years with IBM. He quickly became a familiar face among the paparazzi.
“I never walk out the door without the camera by my side,” said Bill, who at 88, continues to work the crowds for just the right glamour shot.
Bill’s photos have been published in magazines such as Scoop, Outlook, 411, Buzz and, currently, Hotspots (as well as SFGN).
“When one magazine would end, I’d jump on another,” says Bill, always eager to provide content.
Bill, a native of Norway, Michigan in the state’s upper peninsula, says he owns many pictures of celebrities, preferring to name former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno as his most prized possession.
He fondly recalled shooting the models at Fort Lauderdale Beach’s Club Caribbean during the 1990s.
“There would be 1,500 guys there on Sunday afternoon … almost all with their shirts off,” Bill says.
“That’s when I bought a zoom lens.”
Click here to read a longer profile of Pompano Bill’s life, which appeared in SFGN in 2011.
If you want to pay tribute to Pompano Bill for possible publication please leave a comment below.