Page 333 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 13                       315

                at least, so it seemed to me as I reviewed the internal evidence of
                her attitude and voice in her “straight” biography of the gay artist.
                Seventeen years later, critic Christopher Bram in Eminent Outlaws
                thoroughly documented the “gay panic” typical of the mid-century
                New York literary establishment who trashed gay artists such as
                Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, and Christopher
                Isherwood. Critic Richard Labonte wrote at his site, Books to Watch
                Out  For (, “Of  the  two  biographies  of  Mapplethorpe,
                Fritscher’s was the first and is still the best.”
                    After Mapplethorpe died, March 9, 1989, I championed him in
                Drummer where Paul Taylor, an understanding New York Times art
                critic, noticed  my “Pentimento  for  Mapplethorpe,”  Drummer 133
                (September 1989). Taylor wrote the following letter dated October
                11, 1989:

                    Dear  Mr. Fritscher, I am a former  friend  of Robert
                    Mapplethorpe and an art critic (New York Times and various
                    magazines), and I was pleased and interested to read your
                    article about Robert in Drummer. In fact, I have brought it to
                    the attention of Patricia Morrisroe, a journalist for New York
                    magazine (with no special credentials regarding art) who is
                    writing a biography of our friend for Random House publish-
                    ers. I hope she will be in touch with you if she hasn’t already.
                    ---Yours sincerely, Paul Taylor.

                    A  week before  I received  Taylor’s  letter, Patricia  Morrisroe,
                straight and Catholic, contacted me for an interview for her book
                funded by Random House. With both of us recording, I talked to
                her on the telephone for nearly five hours. Days later, on October
                10, 1989, she wrote me a thank-you note from her Riverside Drive
                address in Manhattan. Quoted briefly from her copyrighted letter,
                she was very sweet: “Dear Jack. Thanks so much...even though I’ve
                interviewed over 120 people at this point, I haven’t spoken to any-
                one who is as articulate on the subject of Mapplethorpe as you are.
                Your piece [in Drummer] was really well-written.” Noting she was
                having a “hard time” building a timeline for Robert because he kept
                no notes, she inquired about his letters to me, saying she would
                appreciate my help, and she signed off: “Thanks for the help you’ve
                already given me. Best, Patricia Morrisroe.”


                    1. My “Pentimento: Mapplethorpe” article was the apogee of
                Drummer magazine assaying a political cause celebre.

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