Page 288 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
P. 288

268                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
               I had spent the summer and autumn of 1977 reading every word in
            every issue of Drummer, including the quintessential reader survey: the
            classified personals of the “Leather Fraternity.”
               Meeting formally at tables at the Castro Café (one door north of the
            Star Pharmacy at 18  and Castro) and informally at bars and baths on
                            th
            Folsom, I interrogated the South of Market demographic of leathermen
            whom I knew in order to refocus concepts, contents, and on-going edito-
            rial “philosophy.” Besides lots of leather sex, I wanted to represent the
            then self-fashioning trend of virilizing gender that gay liberationists had
            not ever expected was in any closet. I wanted my Drummer to drum up
            the image of the under-served audience of masculine-identified gay males
            whom I personally witnessed marching in booted battalions through the
            streets and bike clubs of New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago,
            London, Amsterdam, and Madrid.
               We were a tribe. We were each and all The Wild One with Scorpio
            Rising. We were James Dean’s Rebel without a Cause. I eyewitnessed the
            action and identity we ritualized after midnight when we all went prowl-
            ing for masters and slaves. The new San Francisco Drummer was my
            chance to give that specific group of men at that specific time a specific
            magazine of specific desires.
               As a writer requiring vocabulary to describe this emerging male iden-
            tity, I probed my six years of high-school and college Latin (six class hours
            a week) and my four years of Greek (four class hours a week). At the tip
            of my pen, the keyword homomasculinity began to form in a drop of cum.
            Or was it blood? Or was it ink? The word evolved out of the way men
            self-fashioned themselves during witnessed acts of public sex and “Walt
            Whitman” comradeship.
               Personal experience in face-to-face S&M sex led me to create a Drum-
            mer editorial policy reflecting on the pages the faces and psyches of its
            readers. Suddenly that summer, Drummer shifted to embrace masculine
            reality as well as leather fantasy. I became a gonzo journalist involved
            in the subject I was investigating: e.g., “Prison Blues” (Drummer  21),
            “Cowboys: Grand National Rodeo” (Drummer 26), and “The Academy
            Training Center” (Drummer 145). I wanted a men’s adventure magazine
            whose pages didn’t sound phony to reader-participants who cruised out
            at night looking for the real thing. That’s why I preferred eyewitness
            photographers like Jim Stewart who was first of all an artist who also was
            a real-time player in leather culture.
               Photographer Jim Stewart and I had been friends since 1973 when
            we both spent time in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I commuted from
            San Francisco to teach for a number of years. He claims the underground
            world of leather opened for him in an epiphany one night when David

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