Page 143 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 5                        125


             21. KEYWORDS OF S&M & HOMO-LEXICOLOGY: THE NEED
             TO CREATE LEATHER VOCABULARY IN ORDER TO WRITE
             ABOUT THE NEW WAYS TO HAVE SEX

             Gay vocabulary is more than Polari or S&M code. Drummer tried to formu-
             late its own “Leather Style Guide” of gay vocabulary because gay people, and
             their subset of leatherfolk, speak a second language that is always changing
             because of previously unheard-of ways to have sex, and to talk and write
             about sex. Jeanne Barney updated leather readers with the latest linguistics
             and semiotics in “The ABC’s of S&M,” but the feature alarmed the LAPD
             who were challenged by continuously evolving new gay code words (like
             boy and slave) and hanky codes that seemed like gang colors (Drummer 1,
             page 31).
                When Drummer staff were not skirmishing with each other, it is inter-
             esting to see them reporting the new keywords of leather culture in order
             to write about uncloseted topics never before named by the love that dare
             not speak even its own name. Barney had learned the “sex alphabet” at
             The Advocate whose “Pink Section” personal classifieds was  written in
             gay shorthand: GWM seeks CBT, TT, WS, FF, & VA. (Decoded, that
             means “Gay White Male seeks Cock and Ball Torture, Tit Torture, Water
             Sports, Fist Fucking, and Verbal Abuse.) In Drummer 1, she composed a
             leather dictionary, “The ABC’s of S&M Sex.” Crossing Alfred Kinsey and
             Margaret Mead, pop-culturist Barney interviewed players in the scene and
             sorted the new semiotics. She told me, “I did not make this shit up as I
             went along.”
                At the Stonewall dawn of leather culture, the character of kinky folk
             changed.
                Out of silent closets came the need for new codes. There was the colorful
             semaphore of the hanky code. There was a mini-civil war over the meaning
             of wearing keys, hankies, and chains worn on the left or right. There was
             debate over the significance of “dressing” left or right: that is, the “meaning”
             of displaying one’s cock and balls tucked down the left leg or right through
             tight Levi’s. For a long while at the dawn of leather when distinctive signals
             for top and bottom needed invention and negotiation, left meant one thing
             on the East Coast and the reverse on the West Coast.
                In Barney’s “ABC’s of S&M Sex,” at that time “TT” meant “toilet train-
             ing.” Soon it meant “tit torture” as in CBTT which was shorthand for “cock-
             ball-and-tit  torture.”  Seventeen  issues  later,  “The  Official  Handkerchief
             Color Code” was sorted by Gary Barnhill, and published in Drummer 18
             (August 1977), page 80.


               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-14-2017
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