Page 181 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 7                        163

             favorite Black Magic things. The Marquis de Sade, the dirty master behind
             Drummer, wrote: “There is a kind of pleasure which comes from sacrilege or
             the profanation of the objects offered to us for worship.” In fact, blasphemy
             was the outer limit of the radical avant garde which scared Embry who
             refused in 1978 to publish my 1967 poem, “Jesus D’Pressed,” to illustrate a
             photograph shot by Rimbaud-influenced blasphemer, Mapplethorpe, who
             was known to say to people, including Embry, “If you don’t like these pho-
             tographs, you’re not as avant garde as you think.”
                Embry dismissed my American pop-culture argument when I pointed
             out that The National Lampoon, months before in June 1977 had queered
             Malcolm Boyd’s book Are You Running with Me, Jesus? publishing the article
             “Are You Cruising with Me, Lord?” Certainly, the Lampoon was a suitable
             measure of changing “community standards.” And if it weren’t, then the
             soft-core blasphemy of Jesus Christ Superstar was.
                The best-selling Superstar album was released in 1970, three years before
             the hit stage musical. Its popular title track, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” played
             incessantly in post-Stonewall gay bars along with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
             poem about Jesus, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” which couldn’t have
             been a more gay anthem if it had been sung by Judy Garland. The Superstar
             plot was Hollywood S&M, but I couldn’t get Embry, the Protestant, to put
             the stripping or whipping photographs from Superstar into Drummer. He
             had no problem with publishing stripping and whipping stills from any
             other movie, including the race-baiting Mandingo, in our monthly “Movie
             Mayhem” pictorial feature.
                In the 1970s, for a gay generation skilled on interpreting the subtext of
             1950s-1960s popular culture, the Superstar signifiers were absolutely clear
             that the gay but troubled lovers were Jesus and Judas. They lived rough with
             bearded workingmen in a hippie commune where Mary Magdalene was the
             “beard” who sang the other songs that Jesus and Judas should have sung to
             each other: “Everything’s Alright” and “Can We Start Again, Please?”
                The gay pop-culture phenomenon of Superstar was such that in LA, I
             witnessed that the outdoor Universal Studios Amphitheater was packed with
             pre-ironic leather gays cheering the live stage musical, Jesus Christ Superstar,
             with the nearly naked Christ crucified high on a cross with all of LA laid out
             below in the night-grid of street lights like a dark and weeping Jerusalem.
             San Francisco gays lined up for the 1973 premiere of the film at the Regency
             1 Theater on Van Ness. In those days before VCRs with their rewind and
             freeze features, the leather custom was to pay one admission and arrive near
             the end of one screening to catch the whipping and crucifixion, and then sit
             through the whole film to watch the whipping and crucifixion again.

               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
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