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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 23
             grew and began to flex its muscle in what Sam Steward, legendary pioneer
             of gay leather writing dubbed “The Drummer Salon.”
                In an instantly symbiotic relationship,  Drummer under Fritscher
             publicized the South of Market leather community that by its nature was
             otherwise evanescent. Mapplethorpe in Manhattan knew the value of the
             SoMa art scene. Seeking entre, he introduced himself to editor Fritscher
             who connected him to nearly every leather person Mapplethorpe met or
             photographed in San Francisco, including poet Thom Gunn; serial-killer
             victim Larry Hunt; Jerry Paderski (face turned away, sitting butt back-
             wards on a toilet bowl in a Tenderloin hotel); and founder of the Janus
             Society, Cynthia Slater. The SoMa demimonde frequented performance
             leather bars like Ron Johnson’s No Name, David Delay’s Ambush, and
             Allan Lowery’s Leatherneck. The crowd surged for two years through
             Robert Opel’s Fey-Way gallery where he was soon murdered. It included
             artists Chuck Arnett, Tom Hinde, and A. Jay/Al Shapiro; photographers
             David Hurles, David Sparrow and Jack Fritscher, and myself and a host
             of others, who all worked together for mutual support of our art, our cre-
             ative ideas, ourselves, because it was fun. We were a leather Bloomsbury
             of masculine-identified male artists. We often lived together at the same
             addresses. We drove each other’s cars and trucks and motorcycles. We
             worked with each other and for each other. We exchanged art work. We
             alerted each other to what hot esoteric foreign films were screening at the
             Strand, the Lumiere, and the Roxie. We picked up our tools and built
             playrooms in our homes and in our bars. We exchanged ideas and partied
             together. And, yes, we sometimes had sex together.
                Drummer was our Vanguard collective diary, our traveling art show,
             our sexual politics, our snapshot album, our unfolding autobiography of
             the way we were. Drummer published Al Shapiro’s graphic novel, Harry
             Chess, and Shapiro painted the murals for the walls of the Leatherneck
             bar on Folsom Street. Jack wrote about the Leatherneck. I photographed
             it. Drummer published his article with my pictures. Men went to that bar,
             went home with a buddy, and acted out what they had read in Drummer,
             and the next month they found themselves reflected in Drummer. In the
             Vanguard, Fritscher wrote about cigars as a fetish, and the next month
             the first cigars appeared in bars. This was our bohemia. It was 1970s San
             Francisco, South of Market.
                Fritscher  also  allowed  his  readers  to  view  this  world  through  his
             friends and fellow travelers. He not only talked the talk; he walked the
             walk. I know. I was there. The night I got my head shaved at the Slot,
             that infamous bathhouse on Folsom Street, he was there. I have photos to
             prove it. He applied dozens of clip-clothes pins to my torso and removed
             them all in a flash of epiphany. It was a rush I passed along again and

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