Page 217 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 197
             with a laser-straight masculinity that became archetypal totem and fetish
             for leathermen.
                At the rear of the Gold Coast, leather pioneers, Bob Maddox and
             his lover Target Model Frank Goley, created Chicago’s first leather shop,
             Male Hide Leathers. Few neo-leather historians remember that Illinois,
             where I grew up, was the first state to legalize homosexuality in 1961.
             Two years earlier, the Gold Coast leather bar had opened its doors. Thus
             freed up, Chicago leather society, inspired by photographer Renslow’s
             Kris standard of masculinity, led the charge of the Leather Liberation
                Renslow’s Chicago crew was as pivotal to the creation of the Ameri-
             can leather archetype as was the early cartooning of the fine artist Tom
             of Finland, who was introduced to the United States by Bob Mizer via his
             LA-based Physique Pictorial magazine in 1957.
                Bob Mizer with his Athletic Model Guild (AMG Studios 1945-1989)
             presented a rough-trade hustler version of straight tough young men that
             predated Renslow, matched the police-harassed Bruce of LA (without
             whom there’d be no Bruce Weber/Calvin Klein images), and inspired
             in 1970, out of the Guild Press, the genius photographer David “Old
             Reliable” Hurles with his S&M-tweaked delinquents. Associated with
             Chicago leather, centered at that time at Renslow’s “Black Castle” house
             was the macho ballet star Dom Orejudos who was the leather S&M art-
             ist aka Etienne/Stephen, as well as the cop-lover, writer Sam Steward
             aka Phil Andros aka Phil Sparrow who had taught Chicago’s ink-maven
             Cliff Raven how to tattoo leathermen. The “Leather List” questionnaire,
             circulating through the players in Chicago leather, was filled out and
             mailed to Los Angeles — that is, to Larry Townsend who collected them
             up, collated, tabulated, and made hay out of them.
                 In New York, photographer Jim French aka the artist Luger aka Rip
             Colt, co-founder of Colt Studio’s Leather-Lite Look, in the late 60s split to
             the muscle beaches of California. His Colt partner, Lou Thomas, stayed
             with the New York Leather-Serious Look in developing his classic Tar-
             get Studio and the Anvil Leather Bar with leathermen Frank Olson and
             super-top, the legendary Don Morrison, my longtime pal (1969-1975),
             who tutored and tortured only the creme de leather. Early on, I had the
             good fortune to model for Target and spent five years associating with
             Lou Thomas and his “take” on leather, before becoming bicoastal lover of
             Robert Mapplethorpe who in the early 1970s was collaging photographs
             of leathermen into high concept art that bloomed up and out of the gay
             ghetto and brought leather into the art world’s mainstream. Manhat-
             tan “straight” magazine artist-illustrator, Steve Masters, imaginating
               muscular leathermen in painterly drawings killed himself when his wife

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