Page 244 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
P. 244

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

               This effort, for enervating reasons, gained little momentum. It was the
            Great Dying of 1984-1994. The devastated leather community had no incli-
            nation to aid an ailing commercial business like DeBlase’s private corpora-
            tion, Desmodus, Inc.
               Death unhinged the culture, and despite all the help everyone gave
            everyone, confusion became hysteria. Chuck Arnett, for instance, was one of
            the greatest artists published in the Drummer Salon. He had been a dancer
            on Broadway and was the founder of the Tool Box bar. He was also the man
            who introduced the needle to Folsom Street. On the skids, he seemed very
            like the failing Drummer which his brand-name graffiti art so essentially
            characterized. No one seemed to be there to save him. I remember see-
            ing him very late one night at the Barracks baths where I walked into the
            empty and steamless “Steam Room” and saw him sitting naked on the upper
            wooden bench like a skeletal gaunt ghost of Auschwitz tripping his tits off.
            Arnett died virtually alone and destitute on March 2, 1988. I profiled him in
            Drummer 134 (October 1989) and in Mark Thompson’s book, Leatherfolk:
            Radical Sex, People, Politics and Practice. On March 27, 1990, three months
            after my plea to save Drummer, my friend, the Drummer Salonista, Bob
            Brackett wrote:

               Dear Jack:

                   ...I have some of Chuck Arnett’s ashes in a crystal box along
               with some dirt sent to me by my ex [from] where we first made
               love, and some sand I brought back from Egypt from the base of
               the pyramids. Not something I’ve told many people.
                   I remember near the end when Chuck’s roommates were let-
               ting him die in his own shit and one of his friends called to tell
               me. I went crazy. But I called in every favor I had to get Chuck out
               of there and bumped 50 people to get him into Garden-Sullivan
               [Hospital] the next day. I had doctors ask me how I did it. I don’t
               know and I probably couldn’t do it again. It’s just that Chuck and I
               had a strange love affair, had season’s tickets to the ballet (talk about
               “the odd couple”) and a very special friendship.
                   I’ve never forgotten the couple of times I made it with you.
               Only to go on to dating David Sparrow [my former partner of ten
               years] a few times....What movie am I? [quoting a line repeated
               frequently in Some Dance to Remember]
               —Bob Brackett

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