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40                                      Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.

            If I might look back from perhaps thirty-five years, I will always treasure
            one particular adventure Jack twisted my hesitant elbow hard enough to
            convince me I’d be a raging fool to pass up. The occasion was a six-hour
            tour inside San Quentin, broken up into very small groups, with con-
            victs as our extremely friendly and intimate tour guides. Jack, who knew
            everybody, knew someone who knew someone who could get us into
            prison. Included was a basic dinner meal in the main dining hall, convicts,
            guards, guns and all. To even get in to prison, however, we were required
            to release the State of California of all liability for our safety, and we were
            notified that in the event that we were to be taken hostage, we would not
            be bargained for; a thorough strip search was then required before we
            could finally pass through the main gate. What a night to remember! The
            prison system was comparatively peaceful then (and a lot less crowded
            than it has now become), and nothing was hidden from us . . . it was an
            Open House! As we went along, Jack memorized every detail, and with
            his keen eye he directed my own sight to unwelcoming, but overwhelm-
            ing, sights I might have otherwise missed. (Actually, he alerted me to
            quite a number of exceptionally pleasing sights, too, like a convict tongue
            wagging its way through a small hole in a steel door. Jack observed that
            we were like French royals touring the Bastille before the Revolution.) We
            were inside a dream, maybe it was a nightmare, but the cool part was that
            we got instant parole, so we could leave later that same night, smuggling
            out with us thousands of mental pictures, sights, smells, and feelings,
            of heaven and hell, and an ample supply of muscular, sweaty, tattooed,
            temporarily unavailable miscreants, to recall for a long, long time.
               These escapades, and hundreds more, filtered, translated, explained,
            and celebrated, all found their way into Drummer as in Jack’s article about
            our adventure, “Prison Blues.” [Drummer 21 (March 1978)] As much as
            the gay popular culture of the period could be examined, explained or
            codified, it was done in the pages of Drummer. It was in those pages that
            the actual facts of contemporary gay men’s lives, and the sexual truth
            of a sexual time were recorded. Drummer was a journal, a guidebook,
            and an open invitation. Time has shown that the risks Jack took were
            worth taking, as curious subscribers became committed loyalists, rather
            than turning away. Jack could thrust directly to the heart of the hardon,
            and didn’t need to be coaxed, either. Sometimes he pushed the magazine
            defensively ahead of him; other times he stood protectively in front of it,
            but always he wrote for Drummer, and his frequent, unique photographic
            layouts for Drummer filled thought-spaces between his words, right up to
            the very end, in 1999, of Drummer, and yesterday’s millennium. Drum-
            mer was a minute in time for Jack the observer, Jack the teacher, Jack the

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