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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 611


                                 American Fascism 3

                    What happened in the 1970s was archetypally repeated in
                1989 when the government, driven by the tobacco-funded Repub-
                lican Senator Jesse Helms, prosecuted and censored the S&M
                gay photography of my bicoastal lover Robert Mapplethorpe. In
                the first years of the 21  century, the same crap has been reeling
                                  st
                out again in the fundamentalist opposition to gay marriage.


                There may be a point here: gay art, such as Salo, is a cautionary
             tale that prompts us to look at the principles we stand for even as we are
             attacked by Fascists of whatever stripe simply because they have to point at
             somebody they say is bad so that nobody will notice that they themselves
             are evil. They need us the way Hitler needed Jews to get his way.
                Pasolini is template of many gays, particularly Catholic gays, who are
             anti-clerical yet profoundly religious. To me, trained as a social-worker
             priest, his film of the life and death of Jesus, The Gospel according to Saint
             Matthew (1964), is a Catholic-Marxist “take” on the gospel, by way of
             Saint Francis. It is equal to Martin Scorsese’s erotic The Last Temptation
             of Christ (1988) and far superior to the fundamentalist S&M Jesus created
             by the right-wing director Mel Gibson in his blood-dripping whip-fest
             The Passion of the Christ (2004).
                On November 3, 1992, The Advocate (Issue 615) published a huge
             black swastika on its red cover headlining its lead article, “The Rise of
             Fascism in America.”
                My  Salo essay, because its subject matter and argument were relevant
             to Robert Mapplethorpe, was re-printed (albeit censored) in my erotic-bio
             memoir Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera, Hastings House,
             New York (1994). Robert Mapplethorpe and I were bicoastal lovers. I
             cast the models in some of his San Francisco and New York photographs,
             including the cover of Drummer 24 (September 1978). I gave Mappletho-
             rpe his first magazine cover (the same Drummer 24) and was the first gay
             magazine editor to print his photographs in America in my special “New
             York art” issue Son of Drummer (September 1978).
                In his book  Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality
             in Twentieth-Century Art, the critic Richard Meyer cited the pioneering
             importance of my feature essay and my photo captions, “Robert Map-
             plethorpe Gallery (Censored),” the first article on Mapplethorpe in the
             gay press, in my special Drummer edition Son of Drummer; see also my
             “Pentimento for Robert Mapplethorpe: Fetishes, Faces, and Flowers of
             Evil,” Drummer 133 (September 1989).

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