Page 144 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 144

126      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999

               When leatherfolk came out of the closet in the 1960s, it required an
            entrance exam to insure fluency. Sucking and fucking were not enough.
            For the first time, gay men were writing openly about gay men. There was
            a vocabulary and reading list for incoming students.
               In 1968, San Francisco author Bill Carney’s psychological novel, The
            Real Thing, educated beginners in S&M language, codes, rituals, and rela-
            tionships in an elegant way that 1993 MacArthur Genius and leather poet
            Thom Gunn termed “brilliant” because Carney modeled his book on Pierre
            Choderlos de Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons (1782).
               Beginners and Old Hands both, in 1972, immediately bonded with
            Larry Townsend’s leather primer and catechism, The Leatherman’s Handbook,
            the best-seller that educated leatherfolk for thirty years. “Old Hand,” as in
            “I’m an Old Hand who is experienced,” was a perfectly affectionate term to
            show how one generation can gently nurture another with out either being
            en garde. It is very different from the hard new term “Old Guard” which
            implies uptight old leather warhorses demanding new leather dudes genu-
            flect to the old ways.
               In the 1970s, Sam Steward (1909-1993), who was the Drummer author
            Phil Andros, also weighed in to teach beginners about our leather roots in
            his nostalgia for the simpler 1930s and 1940s of sexual outlaws like himself,
            and like Jean Genet (1910-1986) who created a whole new sadomasochis-
            tic language around sex. Identifying some roots of pre-Stonewall leather,
            Sam pined for bygone values and times, all lost, all gone with the winds of
            change, in his Chapters from an Autobiography, page 101:

               [This was] ...long before [1960s and 1970s] leather mania had codi-
               fied and ritualized itself into leather-drag posturings, studied ges-
               tures, codes of dress and behavior that Genet had partially described
               and analyzed earlier in Querelle de Brest.

               Fred Halsted claimed in Drummer to have invented the gay keyword,
            twink, to describe his “twinkie blond” slave, Joey Yale, who was the business
            brains behind Halsted’s ventures in publishing Package magazine and in
            opening his short-lived LA bar called “Halsted’s.” Twink, from the name of
            the “Twinkie” brand cupcake, gained a second gay meaning when assassin
            Dan White plied his “Twinkie Defense,” claiming too much junk food had
            caused him to kill Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.
               As editor-in-chief, I tried to create a Drummer “style guide” for punc-
            tuation, grammar, and spelling, sort of an X-rated version of Strunk and
            White’s Elements of Style, but a bit more descriptive than prescriptive. Is an

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