Page 157 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                137
             ahead of Lou Reed who got “me” right when he wrote his 1972 song,
             “Walk on the Wild Side”: “Jackie is just speeding away — thought she was
             James Dean for a day.” On August 14, 1957, having returned from Man-
             hattan, I wrote an anguished eyewitness beatnik poem about the world,
             Greenwich Village, and James Dean titled, “Cry! The Young Hunters,”
             which is re-printed as background gay juvenilia for “gay roots nostalgia”
             in this series after my Drummer article, “Leather Christmas 1977.”
                I was mad for James Dean, and wrote a feature article about him
             when I turned twenty-one in 1960; but I was a seminarian, and the priest-
             censor told me (cryptically) that my article was inappropriate and that no
             Catholic magazine would publish it.
                For the next twelve months, I practiced what I had learned from the
             book written by James Dean’s roommate, William Bast. Having learned
             to read between the lines, I taught myself how to write between the lines.
                And I succeeded, even though I had to keep the closet door closed.
             My passion for him surfaced in my article, “James Dean: Magnificent
             Failure,” published in the Catholic Preview: The Family Entertainment
             Guide (June 1962). But there was a price. I had to closet my idolatry of
             him and revise the title of the article with the oxymoron angle, “Mag-
             nificent Failure.” In my spin, I had to open with disclaiming sentiments
             that evaporate as the article goes on. As a very young man, my theme was
             identity and cult. As a twenty-year-old I wrote about the legend of Dean
             overtaking the person he was; that was the exact premise I posited thirty
             years later writing my erotic bio about my lover Mapplethorpe when post-
             mortem scandals and fame erased what a sweet person he had been before
             he died too young.
                In truth, James Dean imprinted a generation and me archetypally.
             Fully coming out of my closet during the mid-1960s, I exploded and wrote
             my young leather-biker novel, I Am Curious (Leather) aka Leather Blues
             (1969). I frankly “imaginated” my mise en scene on James Dean and his
             fuck-you attitude. In a weird coincidence signifying nothing, three days
             after I completed the final draft of that manuscript, I was nearly killed
             in a terrible car crash when rammed by a Checker cab that destroyed my
             vehicle with me buckled inside on August 9, 1969, at the same hour the
             Manson Family was murdering movie star Sharon Tate and four others
             including stylist Jay Sebring who designed the hair for the film Spartacus
             and opened the first “salon for men” in San Francisco in 1969. Urban
             legend rumored that the once-married Sebring was gay and into leather
             because of items allegedly found in the trunk of his car parked outside the
             murder house.
                With the headlines the next morning, the culture-shaking Manson
             Family became part of my book, Popular Witchcraft, (1972) which I had

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