Page 629 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                609
               Christopher and His Kind colored the way many participants felt about
             the Drummer salon and its kind.
                Sprung from Isherwood via Kander and Ebb, the Weimar musical
             Cabaret dramatized how 1970s San Francisco mirrored 1930s Berlin:
             decadent, dazzling, diverse, doomed.
                Following the exodus of Drummer out of LA by only a few months,
             Robert Opel (the performance artist and Drummer contributor who had
             streaked the 1974 Academy Awards) fled to San Francisco after he was
             arrested by Davis for indecent exposure when Opel protested nude inside
             a courtroom against the censorious legislating away of Los Angeles’ nude
             beaches.
                Opel was murdered in San Francisco on July 8, 1979, 1) only eight
             months after Harvey Milk was assassinated, 2) six weeks after the White
             Night Riot, and 3) only five weeks after Opel appeared in his own per-
             formance art in the wide-open UN Plaza in front of City Hall where he
             had protested the jury’s soft “Twinkie Defense” verdict that had pillowed
             rather than pilloried assassin Dan White.
                At high noon, in the Gay Parade crowds, Opel had costumed himself
             as “Gay Justice,” and, brandishing a gun, he “executed” a fellow actor
             costumed in white as the former policeman-fireman-and-conservative-
             politician “Dan White” who in his own private Fascism had shot both
             Milk and the liberal Mayor George Moscone. I created an entire section
             around Opel’s life and murder in Some Dance to Remember, Reel Three.
                I think Opel’s death less than four years after Pasolini’s fits a pattern,
             especially factoring in the bass-boom archetypal 1936 death of Federico
             Garcia Lorca shot, literally up the ass, by Fascists. The leftist poet Lorca
             was, like Pasolini and Opel, masculine-identified, and evinced the roots
             of his homomasculinity in his “Ode to Walt Whitman.”
                The  rumor  that  Pasolini’s  murderer  was  an  operative  of  darker
             political forces is exactly what I was once told about Opel’s murderer.
             On March 4, 1990 at a San Francisco cocktail party for a hundred men
             in uniform, a man pulled Mark Hemry and me from the gay chatter to
             a dark stairwell, and, because, he said, I had been the editor in chief of
             Drummer he had a story to tell us . . . .
                Let me ask you to sit on the ground in a circle as I tell the sad deaths
             of queens.
                I wrote this  Salo  review because immediately post-Watergate and
             post-Vietnam all of us gays could feel the hate explode in the American
             air; gains we had made after Stonewall were beginning to be attacked by
             the fundamentalist religious right.
                I thought Salo was a convenient pop hook on which I could hang
             some of our gay angst while at the same time I mobilized Drummer  readers

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