FRICTION FICTION DILEMMA!
Can we talk? Our gaylife has few enough rituals. We sort of make our lives up as we go along. If I were straight and had just sired a child, I'd pass out cigars. So I'm no straight and I've just sired two books. Have your cigar. Light up and kick back with me. What does a gay author do when his books appear in the "literary" gay bookstores? How is a gay author supposed to feel when the first reviews to come in are good? What can a gay author think when words and thoughts in his writing start showing up on gayspeak and surprise! In the Official Journal of the Society for the Study of Social Problems?
Frankly, I thought I was writing one-handed friction fiction.
I lie, as all gay writers lie, when they say that, non of us write "porno." We all write "erotic literature," say, something like Ulysses. Yeah! Sure! I mean, when straight people ask me what kind of writing I do, I very often say "male adventure writing." No use scaring the horses.
My two books, if I may toot my own horn, are entitled Corporal in Charge of Taking Care of Captain O'Malley and Leather Blues. Now, Captain O'Malley does in fact sound sort of like a war story. (Its not.) Leather Blues is a harder title to explain. Not that either needs an explanation. Fuck 'em all if they can't take the truth. Both books make me feel good and they make my publisher, Gay Sunshine Press of San Francisco, feel even better. Gay writing, like gay publishing, is not a very lucrative business, unless you're selling leather dildoes and titclamps mail-order on the last pages. In fact I figure most gay writers earn about a penny an hour. Obviously, we do it for the love and lust from which our stoke-words arise.
It's precisely words and a couple of concepts that I'd like to clarify claim to right here and now, before no one remembers exactly how we invented ourselves. We Gaymen have always been our best creation.
In the late 70's, I was editor/writer of Drummer for almost two years, drubbing up issues 20 to 30, creating the "Tough Customers" and "Tough Shit" columns, as well as developing concepts like "Daddies," with no more than the promise, based on the then-current film, "In Praise of Older Women," of an upcoming issue featuring Older Men. I wanted Drummer to be distinct from all the other gay rays at the time which featured no one over 20.
In that same period, I asked my friend Robert Mapplethorpe to shoot a NYC fried of mine for the now famous Drummer Dirty-Biker-Cigar cover. That issue featured "Cigar Sarge" and "Cigar Blues" and formally began the new gay fetish with cigars and the men who smoke them.
What won't we gayboys think up next?
Forgive the byzantine detail, but it's important. Pay attention. There's a quiz at the end. I'm a philosophy major, after all, so I'm required to think. Even in the pages of a gay magazine. I also have a doctorate in American Lit. So what? So it looks interesting in the Social Problems Journal where in the bibliography on "The Social Constituents of S&M" Dr. Fritscher comes right after Dr. Freud. What a hoot! That means no more, of course, than our names are listed alphabetically.
Or does it mean that the fraternity of gay writers is beginning to be taken seriously?
That point is that, before everything becomes "public domain," I own a few things. (Every gay writer can say this.) For instance, in the pages of Drummer I redefined S&M as "sensuality and mutuality." On a trip to London, I had asked a man in a bar if he was "top" or "bottom." He said, "You Americans!" He gave me pause to think. "Sensuality and Mutuality" let tops and bottoms be tops and bottoms, while it opens a third category, which I dubbed in the pages of my own magazine MAN2MAN, as "Mutualists."
"MUTUAL RAUNCH FETISHIST desires to lock armpit to asshole with someone man enough to give as good as he gets."
Speaking of MAN2MAN, I first sent up a trial balloon for that magazine in issue 22 or so of Drummer. I hadn't come out to fuck with gays; I had come out fuck with men. By now, many guys agree there's a species difference here. Gay-to-gay sex is fine. I always had a good time. But then it wasn't enough. I wanted a redefinition. I wanted man-to-man sex. Hence the magazine name. (It's subtitle tag line was: "What You're Looking for is Looking for You." That came from my friend Old Reliable whose photos, cassettes and videos are not unknown to savvy readers of the magazine.)
I'll be the first to admit the phrase man-to-man has been around a long time, but it wasn't used in gay publishing. In fact, it was avoided. The effect of MAN2MAN was to push the man-to-man sex concept to the fore. Check out the gay ads. Now you have "Man-to-Man Phone Sex," "Man-to-Man Massage," "Man-to-Man Rent-A-Model," and so on and so on. Even Drummer, which I still dearly love, and whose staff I respect, picked up on MAN2MAN's popularity and produced the tag line "More Man-to-Man Personal Ads Than Any Other Magazine." Imitation is the best form of making a buck, so huzzahs for all the guys who want to do things man-to-man.
The more that concept gets out, the better.
Guys are catching on. We are men who love men. I don't mind saying it. My truck even has a personalized MAN2MAN license plate.
In the exquisitely crafted and insightful Urban Aboriginals, author Geoff Mains picks up on another concept from MAN2MAN: "The First Coming Out," I figured, was in genital sex in one's twenties. "The Second Coming Out," in one's 30s, was into the Sensuality and Mutuality of heavy-duty S&M. Mains' brilliant book, by the way, is a must-read for any man interested to any degree in S&M. This is how concepts grow and enrich those who wish to think about what it is we "gay" writers are really doing.
MAN2MAN spawned another word: homomasculinity. I think it's a valuable coinage, moving as it does away from homosexuality, which seems to focus on sex (read: genitals). Homomasculinity covers the manly kind of queer who has almost everything in common with his straight brother except sexual preference. It emphasizes American men acting like American men, and fuck the fags and feminists. A homomasculinist is a man who feels at home hanging out with straight guys or other homomasculine guys. Recently, at a San Francisco party, a guy mentioned he had tickets to the Super Bowl. Can you imagine that happening five or ten years ago in the history of our man-to-man evolution? Even so, the conversation in the room ground to a halt.
By the way, at that same party, it was interesting to note the Death of the Clone. The once prevalent 28-inch waist of Castro-Thin had disappeared. The guys had achieved the builds of normal males.
That brings me to What's Next?
What I figure from talking and listening in SF and El Lay, "Getting Big" In. Whether it's guys wanting to build bigger muscles or the "Gainers" who hang out with the Girth and Mirth crowd. Whatever the reason, it's there. It's happening. It's a subdivision of what I've dubbed homomuscularity. Bodybuilders like to be big. Bodybuilders like to have sex: With each other, and with men who know how to talk iron-sex. It's not gay sex; it musclesex. In its purest form, homomuscularity is what happens when bodybuilders collide; they pose, arm-for-arm, thigh-for-thigh; eventually it gets down to dick-to-dick. Just like Marines don't think it's gay as long as they do it with another Marine, etc.don't consider it gay to have a jerkoff-poseoff with another bodybuilder.
How do I know this?
I used to own a bodybuilder.
Things like this happen to writers. The bodybuilder had read my stuff. He fixed up a meeting. (It's not only rockstars who have "Groupies.") He followed me home. I kept him. I mean. I "kept" him. Jeez! It was new material to write about.
I make all my lovers sign releases.
Can I take my tongue out of my cheeky cheek now?
©1985 Jack Fritscher