Page 233 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 213
                I witnessed the shameless 1997 Key West Writers conference when
             the President of the Writers association abruptly and indignantly ended
             the conference sending all of us — including the other writers in atten-
             dance, Tony Kushner, Edmund White, David Leavitt, Michael Bron-
             ski, agent Michael Denneny, and that sweet writer whose pseudonym is
             Andrew Holleran — out into the street. The topic was “Literature in the
             Age of AIDS.”
                We were kicked out and given the bum’s rush not so much because
             the banshee Larry Kramer as usual went ballistic and ran screaming down
             the theater aisle and onto the stage, but because the readings and panel
             discussions had started to turn in the tropical heat from “lit’rature” to
             “erotica.” Key West wanted us to talk about “AIDS as a Literary Genre.”
             Instead, steamy, sweaty, promiscuous gay writing and culture got too icky
             to deal with when heretofore literary writers like David Bergman began
             to read their hidden erotica to the audience! And Michael Bronski and
             White confessed to masturbating to memories of sex with dead lovers! It
             was also not pretty when the gay writers turned on straight writer Ann
             Beattie who judged herself, perhaps aptly, saying she could not write about
             people with AIDS because she was not a person with AIDS. A fight broke
             out — “liberal gay New York Jews” versus “conservative straight Florida
             WASPs” — ostensibly over advocacy literature and politics; Sarah Shul-
             man, Frank Rich, Kramer, and Kushner took on the straights and in a
             shocking move the straights closed down the uppity conference.
                As a veteran of the attack on Mapplethorpe, I immediately assessed
             the writers’ smackdown as one more skirmish in the culture war.
                Face it. We’ll always be driven into the streets like hated queers until
             the exclusionary gay literary establishment owns up to the reality that gay
             writing is quintessentially erotic, and therefore legitimate, because eros
             drives human nature — particularly gay human nature — the same way
             that erotica drives new technology: VCRs, DVDs, the Internet.
                So much goes on behind the scenes of porno I could write a backstage
             musical.
                Back in the 70s, I advertised my tutorial services in the pages of
             Drummer with a display ad called “Writer’s Aid.” Having been an associ-
             ate professor teaching university journalism and literature for ten years,
             and needing other writers’ work to fill Drummer, I took on, during those
             first years of gay lib, aspiring writers to tutor them in both creative writing
             and journalism of the erotic kind.
                Two of my writing students were “Jack Prescott” and Anthony F.
             DeBlase. I counseled Prescott to take back to his real name, John Pres-
             ton; and then, as editor of Drummer, I did the final rewrite on his raw
             manuscript, and published, Mr. Benson, from which draft Preston finally

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