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44                                      Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            reflects may, regrettably, exist, but ought not to be represented. Failure
            to represent such things will eventually, so current doctrine has it, lead to
            the abolition of what is deplored. There is a sad irony in the fact that the
            “gay” world, the realm of the queer or homosexual, has no sooner achieved
            recognition and to a certain extent legitimate status, than it begins to
            designate forbidden areas within its own territory. Fritscher’s images may
            be all the more threatening to a certain type of gay puritan because we
            immediately understand that to him they are familiar territory, not things
            encountered for the first time and recorded chiefly because they seem
            bizarre and startling. The late Robert Mapplethorpe once said that there
            was nothing shown in his own photographs that he hadn’t done him-
            self. Fritscher can say the same, though with a subtly different nuance. A
            reminder of this is the more relevant because Fritscher and Mapplethorpe
            were once so closely linked personally, not only as friends but as lovers,
            protagonists in a stormy bicoastal affair conducted just at the noir moment
            when Mapplethorpe was rising to the first peak of his reputation. It was
            Fritscher who commissioned Mapplethorpe to produce his first magazine
            cover, and who at the same time introduced him to the West Coast leather
            scene. This cover was done in 1977 for the San Francisco-based leather
            magazine Drummer, which Fritscher was then editing. Fritscher not only
            drew the design for it, but provided the model, Elliot Siegal, who then
            became a frequent model for Mapplethorpe.
               Knowing this, one might look at Fritscher’s photographs expecting
            to find some trace of Mapplethorpe’s influence, though his own early
            photographic images were published when he was just eighteen, twenty
            years before he and Mapplethorpe encountered one another. In fact their
            approach is very different. Mapplethorpe’s most typical photographs
            are calculated, coolly staged, Deco artifacts where the subjects become
            objects, deprived of nearly all personality, frozen by the icy stare of the
            lens. Fritscher’s work is, by contrast, informal, candid, a product of the
            desire to seize and fix some epiphany, some magic moment, rather than
            to construct a particular pattern which already pre-exists in the photog-
            rapher’s imagination. Some images are the result of Fritscher’s involve-
            ment with gay magazines and with video. These portray men who one
            time or another have been gay icons, and often show them at their most
            overtly sexual. Thus, there is a fine series of nudes of Donnie Russo, the
            ultra-macho star of a whole series of recent erotic videos, among them
            four made by Fritscher himself in collaboration with his partner Mark
            Hemry. Russo has a sexual electricity. Fritscher speaks of Russo’s “pria-
            pism” — which accounts for his impacting still photographs as well as
            video. Photographing this phenomenon (the kind of fully independent
            personality Mapplethorpe usually seems to have avoided in his sexually

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