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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 45
             oriented work) Fritscher seems to regard himself, not as someone who is
             imposing a stereotype, but as a collaborator with his subject. They are
             working together one behind the camera, and one in front of it, to focus
                          ,
             a particular set of qualities and characteristics, and give them their full
             effect. The same can be said of another photograph, which is a full-length
             nude of Val Martin, star of the mid-70s S&M classic, Born to Raise Hell.
             “We’re all motor-driven hacks compared with Robert as a photographer,”
             Fritscher has said, “but at least I’m not going to end up photographing
             lilies and leaves because I’m afraid, as Robert grew to be, of having some-
             body look back at me from the other side of the lens.”
                Many of his photographs, in fact, are true candids, shot in public
             places, where the model or subject’s sexual preference remains deliberately
             indeterminate. Fritscher often shoots on location, from the hip, and on
             the run. “I dare to stalk public events,” he claims, “lying in wait for that
             magic moment when some man in a crowd looks directly at my raised
             camera and focuses on my lens with a “look,” a precise narrowing of the
             eyes, a look of bonding, superiority, surrender, even contempt. Any pas-
             sion will do! Sexual inferences are drawn only because of my attitudes,
             as expressed in the photographs, and because of my gender. If I signed a
             woman’s name to these images they would be regarded very differently.”
             With Fritscher there is in fact no absolutely impermeable barrier between
             reality and erotic fantasy. There are certain kinds of activity which obsess
             him — bodybuilding,  weightlifting,  boxing,  wrestling — because  they
             seem to sum up the essence of masculinity, and also because they allow
             free rein to the kind of male narcissism which attracts him. He is always
             aware that the voyeur, in this case the man with the still camera or the
             video camera, often fulfills the needs of the one who is observed, that the
             transaction, far from being one sided, is fully reciprocal. He feels that
             many of the photographs taken in these circumstances — those of body-
             builders posing in contests or on the boardwalk at Venice Beach are just
             as erotically charged as those which are more overtly sexual. Even more
             charged, he might claim, because the relationship between the one who
             views and the one who is viewed is more complex and ambiguous than it
             is in circumstances where the sexual element is fully spelt out.
                Fritscher admits, however, that the men he stalks in public invari-
             ably carry with them a strong sexual aura — and that this is the very aura
             which he is also trying to project when he photographs models in his
             studio. A case in point is the image of celebrated American bodybuilder
             Chris Duffy wearing a tartan necktie. Here the model, far from being
                       ,
             unaware of the camera, is working in collaboration with the photographer
             to project a particular image of himself. Even here, however, there are
             things the model cannot fully know. From start to finish of a shoot of

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