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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 59
                Up-and-coming American fags-in-training of my generation learned
             the great lesson that even if we started out as sissies, we didn’t have to stay
             sissies just because we liked cock. We might push paper or curl hair at
             work, but afterward we could go to the gym and lift weights till we had
             the kind of bodies we’d always envied. Or we could at least dress like it.
             A more masculine style became the norm throughout the gay subculture.
                Drummer both reflected and promoted this development, and no
             one — except maybe Tom of Finland — did more to cement it in gay-male
             consciousness than Jack Fritscher. His play, Corporal in Charge of Tak-
             ing Care of Captain O’Malley, which first appeared in Drummer 22 and
             Drummer 23 (May and July 1978), hit us with an unforgettable one-two
             punch to the groin and the psyche. In place of the classic polarity of butch
             and femme, or he-man and punk/twink (still visible in early Drummer
             itself in such role models as Fred Halsted and Joey Yale), Corporal in
             Charge gave us butch and super-butch.
                Not even being called a “cunt” (a label the character rejects) can shake
             the Marine Corporal’s sense of himself as a man in love with serving and
             servicing another man like himself — superior precisely because he has
             more of the same qualities present in the man on the bottom.
                In the coming decades, more of the same would become the new para-
             digm for homomasculine sexuality.

             Jack knew what he was doing. It was no accident, or joke, that he added
             the tag, “American Review of Gay Popular Culture” above the masthead
             in Drummer 23. His aim was to reflect changes in gay culture even as they
             were occurring, by reflecting the lives of Drummer’s readers back to them,
             creating a feedback loop that would reinforce the already existing trends
             toward a more masculine style and a more experimental, all-embracing
             sensuality. His much-imitated creation of “Tough Customers” (Drummer
             25, December 1978), in which the readers themselves became the porn
             stars, is only one of the devices he employed to this end.
                Jack’s  landmark  features  reporting  on  such  establishments  as  the
             Mineshaft (Drummer 19), the Catacombs (Drummer 23), the Quarters
             (Drummer 24), and the Academy Training Center (Drummer 145) can
             he viewed in the same light. His super-heated prose and photos fueled
             their legends, yes, but at the same time he demystified them, making
             them seem less distant and inaccessible. He actively challenged readers
             (especially in the Training Center piece) to do what he did, master their
             fears and fulfill their fantasies by checking the facilities out in person. Jack
             had no truck with the conventional porn-mag “Look, but don’t touch”

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