Page 198 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 198

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

                   any of you got what it takes to reach out to gay men in such
                   a way as to turn them on and in the process—often—make
                   them think.

               Barrus, himself unable to get publication traction because of East
               Coast prejudices and politically correct dogma, assumed a new liter-
               ary identity and began writing under the Navajo name “Nasdijj.” In
               1998, he sent an unsolicited short feature article manuscript titled
               “The Blood Runs Like a River through My Dreams” to Esquire with
               a note saying, “In the entire history of Esquire magazine, you have
               never once published an American Indian writer.” “The Blood Runs”
               essay was published in the June 1999 issue of Esquire and was so
               famously well written it became a finalist for the National Magazine
               Award. Nasdijj wrote two more Nasdijj book memoirs after his first
               one, The Blood Runs Like Rivers Through My Dreams (2000), was
               selected as a “Notable Book of the Year” by The New York Times. The
               other two titles were The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping (2003) and
               Geronimo’s Bones: A Memoir of My Brother and Me (2004).
                   Then in January 2006, investigative journalist Matthew Fleischer
               published an expose in LA Weekly titled “Navahoax” revealing that
               Barrus was “a middle-aged white male writer of gay pornography”
               who—as if it were a bad thing—had “for years, ...written gay leather
               porn and sadomasochistic novels.” When the scandal broke, Esquire
               writer Andrew Chaikivsky contacted me for his deeper query into the
               identity of Tim Barrus whose picture was to be published full page
               next to the article: “Nasdijj: Seven Years Ago, He Was Born in This
                   For that May 2006 Esquire (pages 138-143), Chaikivsky inter-
               viewed and then named me in his article as “one of the founding edi-
               tors of Drummer, a now defunct gay leather magazine where Barrus
               edited and wrote stories in the 1980s.” My goal in responding to the
               empathetic Chaikivsky was to explain Barrus’ sense of frustration
               with publishing as well as his undeniable brilliance in creating iden-
               tities and channeling other personas, a gift which was traditionally
               key to many female authors disguised pseudonymously as male,
               and to many gays who lived double lives to survive and succeed as
               straight authors. Barrus identifies as straight, but he learned plenty
               from the problem-solving stress of living inside gay publishing cul-
               ture where dissembling is an art form almost of the kind perfected
               by drag queens.
                   It did not help Barrus that at the same time, media detectives
               also unmasked the memoir authors JT LeRoy and James Frey who
               had conned Oprah and her book club. Timothy Patrick Barrus’s
               shapeshifter story should one day be scripted and directed as an

              ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
   193   194   195   196   197   198   199   200   201   202   203