Page 656 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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636                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            Castro Street Fair founded by Harvey Milk in August 1974, did not
            become a wildly popular international draw until the dying time of the
            late 1980s brought 100,000 men out into the streets. In the way that
            David Sparrow and I had historicized the CMC Carnival in the 1970s
            with hundreds of photographs and with my reporting in Drummer, Mark
            Hemry and I began shooting our Palm Drive Video documentaries of the
            Folsom Fair in 1984 when the crowds in the street — mostly local leather-
            bar types — were quite small.
               What is interesting to see in our chronicles of these street documen-
            taries is how, as the years go by, the Folsom Street Fair crowd evolves in
            numbers, attitude, and intensity. Every three years, or so, the videos show
            a generational change in the tenor of the homomasculine leather look,
            even though, over-all, the iconic look of a defined muscular man in chaps
            and stripped to the waist wearing a chest harness, his skin tanned like a
            saddle, remains virtually unchanged. The strangest Folsom Street Fair we
            shot was two weeks after 9-11 when restricted air travel shrank the somber
            crowd to only the bravest souls. By 2002, the gay leather crowd was being
            morphed by straights pushing baby strollers while ogling men and women
            being whipped for AIDS charities by Peter Fiske and the 15 Association.
               I mention this to show the documentary value of what an eyewit-
            ness Drummer was in its photographic images: reflexive of real readers in
            the 1970s before video changed Drummer photography into an album of
            video porn stars in the 1980s.
               The sociological value of our video street documentaries, shot not
            helter-skelter, but with a big-game hunter’s disciplined and controlled
            point of view, is that they collect outside in the sunlight the actual faces
            and bodies of men who are usually only seen under the dim red lights
            of leather bars. The value of daylight events like the CMC Carnival and
            street fairs such as Folsom Street Fair and Castro Street Fair is the abil-
            ity to check out, document, and analyze that part of the gay population
            that only comes out at night, exhibitionistically wearing gear and get-
            ups usually only worn at night. The Folsom Street Fair is the libidinous
            gay homomasculine Id parading itself proudly. Mark Hemry and I pro-
            actively capture diverse images ranging from trophy gods to sexy trolls,
            because beauty is in the eye, as well as in the “fast-forward” and “freeze
            frame” of the ultimate beholder cruising the Folsom Fair from his couch.
               Shooting the CMC Carnival and shooting the Folsom Street Fair,
            or any large group of gay men, is a real test of an analytic photographer’s
            steel — and theory. As one photographer among the hundred who filled
            Drummer, may I explain my work regarding what as editor in chief I
            thought Drummer needed. I even asked Mapplethorpe to do the same
            when I cast his Drummer 24 cover. In all my photography, my camera

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