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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 193
             fell and the knowledge of top and bottom entered the world: reciprocal
             concepts of power and no-power. That’s why “Original Recipe Leather,”
             the  post WWII biker  gangs,  had power-structure names  like  “Hell’s
             Angels” or “Satan’s Slaves.”
                The universal human condition is masochism.
                Ask Aquinas, Boccaccio, Dante, and Milton. Ask Annie Lennox.
             Everybody’s a misbehaving bottom looking for a top: sexual, political,
             theological, whatever. To paraphrase Monty Python’s virtually Shake-
             spearean take on what exactly is the distinguishing power of Topness in
             The Holy Grail: “You can tell the kings from the common people, because
             the kings are the ones not covered in shit.” Even in the world of recre-
             ational sex, bottoms search for tops with their vernacular shit together
             so the top can, in all the coded roles of Master/Coach/Cop/Dad/DI/
             Trainer, work/beat the shit out of the bottom: get the bottom’s shit/act
             together; and basically save/transfigure the bottom (who loves his passive-
             aggressive addiction to bottomness because he gets to be “bad” and exert
             his will on the top) from the graceless impotence of his unworthy self.
                 Leather as a playground perches on the cusp of human psychology.
             Ask De Sade. Ask Masoch. Ask Larry. By the time of the rip-roaring
             counter-culture of the 1960s, the specific word  leather, transcending
             literal meaning as clothing, surfaced from the underground subculture
             redefined to mean a specific psycho-drama sex-style.
                Leather, along with 60s peace, love, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,
             arrived linguistically to name a way of being and becoming, of ritualizing
             and actualizing, of creation and recreation, of politicizing and marketing.
             Participant gonzo journalist, Larry Townsend, as both a psychologist and
             a leatherman, reported the debut as Leather stampeded out of the closet.

             Leather exploded into pop culture with the dark glamour of Hollywood,
             the Hell’s Angels, and Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable fea-
             turing the Velvet Underground with Lou Reed singing, “Shiny Boots
             of Leather.” At the same time, June 26, 1964,  Life magazine, always
             breathlessly “Roman Catholic” about sadomasochism, featured a two-
             page worldwide alert on the Tool Box, not the first, but the first famous
             leather bar.
                Compared to the Bimbeau Limbo of vanilla gay bars, the Leather
             Bar promised masculinity, the kind of masculine identification that has
             always lured homosexual men: straight, or straight-acting. Note that this
             Leather Declaration of Independence in Life was a full five years, almost
             to the day, before Stonewall: June 26, 1964, to June 29, 1969. Ask Abbott.

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