Page 67 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 47
             to gay photography. With him, there is no absolutely impermeable bar-
             rier between asexual reality and erotic fantasy. There are pictures here
             where there is no specific element of sexual display not even of the rather
             generalized sort which can be found in images of bodybuilders posing
             for the camera. Examples are the power-lifter, a competitor in the Police
             Olympics, or the men in a kilt throwing the hammer. Here the element
             of collaboration with the photographer may be presumed to be missing.
             The image is, in each case, the product of a single, fortunate never-to-be-
             repeated moment. It tells us nothing about the sexuality of the subject,
             but much about the image-maker’s own reactions to the world which
             surrounds him — the things he is attuned to, and is likely to notice and
             record. In “Butch: Hell’s Angels,” for instance, Fritscher makes mascu-
             linity itself a fetish. There are pictures which revel in the ordinary sweat
             of life which is, by some twist of photographic magic, made special and
             extraordinary.  Fritscher’s eye  constantly perceives  the  world  erotically.
             Guided by that eye, his camera picks out the ripe erotic sub-text which
             might otherwise remain unnoticed.
                This, therefore, can be thought of as a book whose images are
             held together by an argument, or rather by a whole series of arguments,
             expressed through images rather than through words, about the nature
             of masculinity, and of male sexuality, within the wider framework of
             American society. It is, for example, about the way in which men pres-
             ent themselves sexually to the camera when they know they are being
             observed. Over the years, a whole series of conventions have been created,
             which are used when women present themselves in this fashion. The ten-
             dency in gay male photography has often been to adapt these for use with
             the male body — hence innumerable versions of the Playgirl male nude,
             languorous and passively provocative. Fritscher knows that this pictorial
             grammar runs contrary to his purposes. He knows, too, that poses and
             pictorial conventions taken over from Greco-Roman statuary, beloved by
             quite a number of photographers working in this field, have a distancing
             effect, when what he wants to give is the closeness of the male, the scent
             and presence of masculinity, like a hunter stumbling upon a tiger in its
             jungle lair. There are photographs here which go well beyond the bound-
             aries of established conventions of male eroticism — frames captured from
             the flux of time, single never-to-be-repeated moments: a boxer taking a
             punch, a young father who drove his car off the road, a biker bloodied
             in a skid. Again, such photos tell us nothing about the sexuality of the
             subject, but much about the image-maker, especially when placed within
             this particular context. It is Fritscher’s overall vision which makes them
             erotically charged.

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