Page 126 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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106                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
                   Tony Tavarossi was a native San Franciscan who came out at
               the age of twelve under the tables in the curtained booths of the
               South China Café at 18  and Castro streets. He was a “walking
                                  th
               oral historian” who in his own personal history set in motion a
               “domino effect” in gay liberation history:
               1.  Tony Tavarossi  founded San Francisco’s first bike bar or
                   leather bar, the Why Not? (1960), where
               2.  he was  himself  arrested  for  propositioning an undercover
                   cop, thus closing the Why Not? in a raid that was a rehearsal
                   for
               3.  the police raid on the Tay-Bush Inn (1961) which emboldened
               4.  Chuck Arnett to hire Tony Tavarossi in opening the legendary
                   Tool Box bar (1961) which, as a symbol of masculine mutiny,
                   fortified the gay resolve to
               5.  found the Tavern Guild (1962) to protect gay citizens from
                   harassment by the San Francisco Police Department.
                   Tony Tavarossi told me explicitly that the Compton’s Cafeteria
               scene in 1966 was a riot led by a mixed crowd of Levi’s-wearing
               leathermen, straight-trade hustlers (many of them ex-GI’s from
               World War II and Korea), and tough drag queens.


                   What  gay-ghetto  journalists  forget  is  that  all  three
               groups — aged forty and younger at that time — were men born in
               the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s. Underneath the butch boys
               sausaged into Levi’s 501s and the drag queens swimming laps in
               Chanel Number 5, the Compton’s Cafeteria crowd were seasoned
               combat veterans of three then recent wars: World War II, Korea,
               and Vietnam.


                   As Tony Tavarossi said, it is a truism of the bar business, as it
               was true of Compton’s Cafeteria as a late-night hang-out, that for
               the most part, drag queens and male hustlers follow the money.
               They have a vested interest in hanging out where the boys are,
               where the men are, because that’s where the wallets are.
                   Journalists love “appearance and reality” the way historians
               love a “good story.”
                   In And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts — and I knew and
               worked with Randy Shilts — so loved the “hook” of Patient Zero
               that he tilted the HIV truth, not into a lie, but into the legend that, I
               think, immorally demonized the fun-loving flight attendant Gaetan
               Dugas into some kind of Typhoid Mary. In short, Shilts succumbed
               to a storyteller’s temptation: he narrowed down the huge AIDS
               story in the same way journalists simplify and dramatize the
               seventeen-year-old drag Sylvia Rivera as the “hook” at the anony-
               mous Stonewall Rebellion.
          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
               HOW TO LEGALLY QUOTE FROM THIS BOOK
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