Page 227 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 8                        209


             in the 1950s worked as HUAC pit bull for the hate-filled Republican Senator
             Joe McCarthy. Through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the Jewish Cohn
             worked as a lawyer for the Italian Mafia and the Roman Catholic Church.
             Tony Kushner dramatized the homophobic queer Cohn, who died of AIDS
             in 1986, in Angels in America.


                                       APPENDIX

                          The Difference Between the Italian Mafia
                                  and the Leather Family


                             Tony Tavarossi and Chuck Renslow

                                            1


                               Star Bartender: Tony Tavarossi
                                      by Jack Fritscher
                         Bay Area Reporter, BARtab, May 2011, page 30

             Born to be a bar star in the Mission District (1933-1981), Tony Tavarossi
             came out at age twelve giving blow jobs under the tables in the curtained
             booths of the South China Café at 4133 18  Street and Castro, next door to
                                                 th
             4127 18  which, sixty-five years later, would become the GLBT Historical
                    th
             Society museum. It was war’s end: 1945. San Francisco surged with carous-
             ing soldiers and sailors. As a rebellious Catholic boy, Tony relished being a
             Sagittarius archer hunting masculine wild things. Cruising waterfront bars
             that would soon be demolished for the new Embarcadero Freeway, teenager
             Tony became a one-man USO, learning a lesson on his knees about enter-
             taining the troops.
                Long before turning 21, he worked bars in the 1950s Tenderloin,
             instinctively absorbing management skills and attracting the attention of
             a Mafia guido who squired him in 1961 to fly to New York to see if the
             rapidly masculinizing “hard” bars might translate to lyrical San Francisco.
             Not “connected” because he was gay, Tony was nevertheless an Italian with
             “backing.” He reckoned that the new bar concept would travel. Popularly
             known for his BDSM games, particularly his role in popularizing fisting,
             his bar ideas were commercial extensions of private sexuality: performance
             stages where players could both lose and find themselves in backroom glo-
             ryholes with slings. So in 1962, age 28, coding his name backwards, he
             became the “owner” of San Francisco’s first dedicated leather bar “Tony’s


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