Page 219 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 199
             connected to the premiere leather artist, Rex, who is Tom of Finland’s Evil
                Larry Townsend’s  Leatherman’s Handbook was combination eti-
             quette book and Boy Scout Handbook for the Mineshaft’s epic nights of
             beautiful people where early motorcycle-inspired leather recombinated
             its functional concept as riding gear to include the farthest reaches of
             drug-driven S&M. To time-trip back to the sexual decor at the time of
             publication of The Leatherman’s Handbook, throw onto a video monitor a
             copy of the William Friedkin film, Cruising (1980) which features actual
             leathermen of the 1970s period playing “atmosphere people.” Cruising has
             always been controversial, because it’s like the X-Files of being gay.
             LEATHER, SEX, & GENDER:

             Everything rising out of the closets converged. Larry Townsend, a net-
             worked part of all he met, was well focused. He examined exactly how
             leather was kicking out from all the heretofore closeted places (military,
             prison, industry) where men enjoyed covert masculine contact that was
             very physical, very rough, and often very erotic, but not always sexual,
             and not ever female.
                One can most assuredly agree with my pal Camille Paglia who says
             even homosexual men must observe women; but one can also agree with
             Katharine Hepburn who advised no more than, “Men and women should
             live next door and visit each other once in a while.”
                In 1964, Kenneth Marlowe had written a shocking non-fiction best
             seller titled Mr. Madam. Mr. Marlowe’s virtual Queen’s Handbook rather
             demanded the balance Mr. Townsend introduced in The Leatherman’s
                 Reference to gender of all kinds is suggested only to inform those
             “seeking offense” were no slight is meant, that at the start, in his initial
             field research, and laser-true even on its 25th anniversary, Townsend tar-
             geted a man’s leather Handbook to a demographic of masculine-identi-
             fied men before leather women and female bodybuilders were invented
             in American pop culture. While diverse others have read, enjoyed, and
             learned the basic leather tropes from the Handbook, the author’s specific
             subject is homomasculinity and his operative audience is gay males.
                Over the years, many women as well as many other-than-gay men,
             have quoted Townsend’s man’s Handbook as a leather primer, a clarifica-
             tory introduction into their own legitimate versions of leather culture.
             Hopefully, the diversity of all others who are not gay males — and who
             doesn’t believe in women and female-identified homosexuals writing

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