Page 435 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 17                       417

             (Alamo Square), it was surrounded by Stuart Timmons’ The Trouble with
             Harry Hay (Alyson) and Kate Dyer’s Gays In Uniform (Alyson). The winner
             was Michael Willhoite’s controversial thirty-page children’s book Daddy’s
             Roommate (Alyson). Unfortunately, Knights Press, while quarreling with
             Sasha Alyson and Tim Barrus, suddenly went out of business for reasons
             ranging from gay heterophobia against Elizabeth Gershman to money to
                In the scenario at the American Booksellers Association (ABA) conven-
             tion in Las Vegas, 1990, Elizabeth Gershman told Mark Hemry and me
             that Sasha Alyson, allegedly, was “leaning on” her who opined to us that
             Sasha Alyson was gouging her for “gay protection money.” I respect Alyson’s
             gaystream reputation as a genius of corporate business and a social saint who
             spent his later years teaching literacy in Laos. So I am recounting only one
             encounter with him, perhaps atypical, which no doubt has several Rashomon
             points of view: Sasha’s, Elizabeth’s, Mark’s, and mine. This incident shows
             no more than the colorful workings of raw capitalism courting art to turn
             it into profitable product. My testimony based on what I observed is mixed
             with allegations told me by other eyewitnesses. The Sasha Alyson of that
             time and place, Elizabeth alleged, asked for money from her, but she indig-
             nantly refused to pay to join his exclusive “LGBT Book Aisle” at the ABA.
             She figured Alyson resented her small press as competition outside his con-
             trol. She claimed she told him in private to go to hell when she perceived he
             became sniffy—so she alleged—that a straight businesswoman was publish-
             ing gay books independently from the gay mainstream, and was refusing to
             take direction from him. So she said.
                In my Impressionist memory from that time where I was already obser-
             vantly writing this memoir of gay history, I can recall the drama of recrimi-
             nations, allegations, and confusions. Sasha Alyson seemed colorful—from
             his gender-ambiguous moniker to his childlike Teddy Bear, apparently
             referencing Lord Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited. Perhaps to dis-
             arm authors suspicious of corporate publishers, he carried that Teddy Bear,
             which Flyte had named “Aloysius,” in the crook of his arm. The Valley Girl
             saying of the day was, “Gag me with a spoon.” The sick Ick of that stuffed
             Teddy signaled Alyson a bit precious at the height of the 1980s-1990s gen-
             der war that attacked fair-minded gay masculine identity of the kind I
             asserted in Drummer and dramatized in Some Dance. If East Coast pub-
             lisher Alyson had known that West Coast publisher Richard Bulger had
             four years earlier already reinvented the Teddy Bear as a homomasculine
             mascot when he founded Bear magazine, he might have tossed his tiny
             Teddy in the toilet.

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