Page 82 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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62                                      Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            of his readers’ desires (not necessarily his) for every sort of sweaty raunch,
            from headcheese to snot, not excluding piss, spit, and a below-stairs whiff
            of forbidden scat, and it would seem Drummer gave its readers what at the
            time they wanted, what the French call nostalgia pour la boue, or nostalgia
            for the mud. That phrase can refer either to the dirt of a peasant village or
            the mud-choked gutters of an urban slum, depending on which one you,
            or your ancestors, crawled out of to reach a state of gentility or bourgeois
            comfort that may define liberated gay culture.
               Jack re-incarnated this “nostalgia against the bourgeois” by making
            a fetish of blue-collar men as a class, their masculine way of being, their
            clothing and their pursuits. He glamorized “Tough Customers.” Within
            a forty-year spread in gay history (1930s-1970s), Jack uses this nostalgia
            pour la boue in the same literary way that Christopher Isherwood color-
            izes his own personal slumming with Sally Bowles and Otto Nowak in
            The Berlin Stories. Both insert the outsider authors and their middle-class
            readers into proletarian life in a way most vividly illustrated in Drummer
            by Jack’s other discovery, Old Reliable, who thrilled Drummer readers
            with his extremely authentic  boue  photographs of young, dangerous,
            gay-for-play ex-cons, street hustlers, boxers, and AWOL military who live
            outside gay culture, and stretch the parameter of my axiom, “Safe, Sane,
            and Consensual.” Jack also commissioned, cast, and designed the anti-
            piss-elegant Robert Mapplethorpe photograph de la boue “Authentic Biker
            for Hire” for Drummer 24, the same issue that showcased Old Reliable’s
            photography in the interview, “In Hot Blood: Ex-Cons - We Abuse Fags.”
               Is such nostalgia a bad thing? Not necessarily, and perhaps only
            when it’s in bad faith (indulged in, say, while being hypocritically denied,
            like a homophobic Republican politician arrested for sucking cock in a
            bus station toilet), or taken to a self-destructive excess. In Jack’s case,
            it seems clear that his literary nostalgia for the mud is, in some ways, a
            response to the self-ghettoizing tendencies of an all too “self-conscious”
            American urban faggotry. Countering that gay skintight narcissism, he’s
            nostalgic — romantic even, as the critic Michael Bronski says — for our
            collective memory of the “ideal world of male otherness” outside the gay
            ghetto, a blue-collar Eden of rodeo and motorcycles and soldiery he con-
            jures repeatedly in his Drummer fiction and novels, where men can be
            physically intimate with other men without labeling what they’re doing,
            a world of “best buds,” “partners,” and “teammates” who “stand by” each
            other without question.
               “Good as Gay Lib is,” Jack wrote in his provocative editorial in the
            nostalgia pour la boue issue of Drummer 24, “the total gay lifestyle as it
            has been commercialized means that gay men basically screw around only
            with other gay men. Gone are the pre-Lib days when a gay guy adventured

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