Page 624 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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604                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
               I believe that the “Leather Decade of the Titanic 1970s” began on
            November 25, 1970, with the world-shocking suicide of Yukio Mishima
            at age forty-five. The homomasculine author had directed and starred in
            his own internationally acclaimed sadomasochistic film Rite of Love and
            Death (1965) in which he acted out his own future muscular harakiri.
            Moralists rarely condemn Mishima’s film, although both the right-wing
            and the left condemn his politics. Leatherfolk romanticize him for his
            dreamy S&M self-portraits that — while very similar in pose to the Kris
            Studio leather-muscle esthetic — so shaped the work of many gay photog-
            raphers in Drummer including Mapplethorpe.
               It is not fair, and it may be quite sexist on their part, that politically
            correct fundamentalists single out the gay, male-identified auteur Pasolini
            for condemnation when other filmmakers of his era, particularly the won-
            derful women directors (Liliana Cavani, Lina Wertmueller), dealt with
            similar sadomasochistic material for similar political reasons. In addi-
            tion, the French male director Barbet Schroeder made his shocking S&M
            film Maitresse (1976) without being, as Pasolini was, undeniably politi-
            cal. In Spain, Fernando Arrabal, founder of the surreal Panic Movement,
            directed his political and violent S&M film Viva La Muerte (1970) which
            was every bit as brutal as Salo and ran many weekends as the “midnight
            movie” at the St. Mark’s Theater in the East Village. Undisturbed by
            politics, Maitresse with its graphic scenes of pain and mutilation was cast
            with masochists who paid to be in the film and it was, in those pre-
            reality-TV times, a huge hit among S&M afficionados. As mainstream
            as was Maitresse, Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses (1976), often
            referred to as In the Realm of the Censors, was another explicit S&M hit
            wherein sexual transgression through edge-play relieved Fascistic repres-
            sion. When this feature essay was written in 1977, I mentioned some of
            these films as akin to Salo.
               My eyewitness presumption was that  Drummer  readers had seen
            most of these mainstream movies as part of how we lived — and how we
            used gaydar to discover S&M where we could in heterosexual films in
            those days when there was hardly any gay publishing or gay film industry.
               Having  taught  the  history  and  esthetics  of  cinema  at  university
            for ten years before becoming editor of Drummer, I introduced a bit of
            European and Japanese film culture which expressed my intent of grow-
            ing Drummer into International Drummer. (I had been traveling east to
            gay culture in Europe since May 1969, and west to Japan since October
            1975.) On September 14, 1972, I had been immensely impressed when
            the startling Brazilian film, The Case of the Naves Brothers (1967), had its
            quiet little American premiere at the Carnegie Hall Cinema. Director
            Luiz Sergio Person’s black-and-white palette and verite camera made the

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