Page 412 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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392                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.

            “Jack Fritscher, University
            Professor,” May 1968, pho-
            tographed during the writing
            of  I Am Curious (Leather)
            aka  Leather Blues. Auto-
            photograph by Jack Fritscher.
            ©Jack Fritscher

               Like a vocation inside a voca-
            tion, coming out to oneself in spe-
            cific homomasculinity is the same
            epiphany as coming out to oneself in
            generic homosexuality.
               When Jack Fritscher’s charac-
            ter Ryan O’Hara wrote his contro-
            versial Masculinist Manifesto which
            was so pivotal to considerations of
            “body fascism in GLBT culture” in
            Some Dance to Remember: A Memoir
            Novel of San Francisco 1970-1982,
            he was a fictive dramatization of
            the leather identity movement of
            the twentieth-century in which
            men self-fashioned masculinity as legitimately as feminists self-fashioned their identities.
               Homosexuality is a primordial Old Religion more ancient and wise than Druidism,
            Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Among its sects, homomasculinity is perhaps the most
            unexpected “click” on the Kinsey Six scale. Always present and almost invisible, it existed
            for millennia before its recent outings in Adolph Brand’s 1896 magazine Der Eigene, Wil-
            liam Carney’s 1968 epistolary novel The Real Thing, Jack Fritscher’s 1969 novel I Am
            Curious (Leather), Larry Townsend’s 1972 Leatherman’s Handbook, and the 1975 debut of
            the leather-identity magazine Drummer.
               In the 1960s, Fritscher was a practicing eyewitness in porno bookstores on the legend-
            ary 42  Street in New York. When he was twenty-six in 1965, three years before he wrote I
            Am Curious (Leather), he found the one-issue booklet, Leather!, compiled by Avery Willard
            for the pioneering homomasculine Guild Press, Washington, D.C. Willard was also the
            8mm filmmaker who created the classic 1960s film, Leather Narcissus, starring New York
            leather icon Fernando.
               Avery Willard’s editorial essay, “Men of Leather,” was the first American “Masculine
            Manifesto” of Leather Identity, and was an essential influence on Fritscher exploring the
            frontier of his own homomasculinity personally and in Drummer. In 1965, Avery Willard’s
            “Men of Leather” was as important to the leather subculture as Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay
            “Notes on ‘Camp’” was important to gay culture.
               Avery’s leather-defining essay was precisely the kind of enthusiastic identity-fiction
            and nonfiction Fritscher went on to write for Drummer (1977-1999).

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