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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 135
             me that the gay Mineo’s character was named Plato, and James Dean was
             his Ideal.
                James Dean was masculine; he was blond; he was hot; he was Cali-
             fornia; he was American; he was gay.
                I wanted James Dean. I wanted to be him.
                I never wanted Marlon Brando.
                In ways emblematic of the times, Marlon Brando was James Dean,
             or some said, Dean was Brando: Brando had done a screen test for Rebel
             Without a Cause; both attended the Actor’s Studio; both rode motorcycles;
             both uncloseted a new kind of hyper-masculine sexuality; both became
             icons in gay leather culture.


             By the late 1970s when Drummer was a bestseller on news stands all
             across America, James Dean had grown so iconic in queer memory that
             Bette Midler in The Rose (1979) was desperately seeking out blond men
             who were ghosts of the James Dean poster that hung in her garage. (Still
             obsessed a decade after directing The Rose, Mark Rydell directed the 2001
             bio film, James Dean.) In 1981, a coven of gay divas — Cher, Karen Black,
             Kathy Bates, and Sandy Dennis — all playing disciples of Dean, starred in
             the Robert Altman play and film, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy
             Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). See my review of the erotic archetype of Dean
             in The Rose in the Virtual Drummer, Man2Man Quarterly #1 (October
             1980), page 13.


                Dean and Brando made leather culture and Drummer inevitable.
             The outlaw rebellion common to both Brando’s The Wild One (1953) and
             Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause liberated masculine gay men in the same r/
             evolution as Betty Friedan liberated women with The Feminine Mystique
             (1963) changing sexuality in the 1960s leading to the Stonewall Rebel-
             lion (1969), with a through-line threading Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising
             (1964), and John Rechy’s City of Night (1963) and The Sexual Outlaw
             (1977).
                In Drummer 16 (June 1977), there is an interview with John Rechy
             who in the 1950s as an LA hustler groomed himself after the fashion of
             James Dean who had been a sometime hustler in LA on Santa Monica
             Boulevard and in New York on 42  Street. In his writing, Rechy has such
                                       nd
             high esteem for Dean, I suspect he hung out at Googie’s coffee shop on
             Sunset Strip where Dean was a post-midnight habitue with the insom-
             niac goth crowd that included Vampira, the camp TV hostess of horror
             films. Had Dean lived, and if Hollywood had wanted to film City of

           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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